NoiseTrade goes offline after 15 years – possibly forever

Photo credit: NoiseTrade

One of the first pioneers of direct sales to fans seems to have disappeared after 15 years. The NoiseTrade platform no longer exists.

Founded in April 2008 in Nashville, Tennessee, the platform allowed users to upload original music and books without DRM for download. The only information required to download from the user is an email address and a zip code. noise trading was formed by Derek Webb and some of the artists he knew after being one of the first major label artists to give away his digital album. Over 80,000 copies of the album were downloaded and Webb used the mailing addresses collected to help him plan booked shows.

Artists using NoiseTrade can upload music with a free account, so anyone can download a ZIP file of the MP3s and album art. The site also provided an easy way to track artists’ social media presence and give them tips for their work. Broadly speaking, other models like Bandcamp have superseded NoiseTrade – which pioneered direct-to-fan sales.

The platform was acquired by PledgeMusic in 2016 but sold to Paste Media Group. In 2019 the site was merged with Paste’s site and sometime that year all available downloads were removed from the site. In its heyday, NoiseTrade enabled 1.3 million users to download and stream hundreds of thousands of songs and books. It gave these artists and writers a direct connection to their fans.

NoiseTrade got caught up in the PledgeMusic scandal after it was revealed that PledgeMusic was withholding payments from dozens of artists who had crowdfunded through the platform. PledgeMusic blamed a change in payment platforms, but many of these artists never received the salary they were entitled to. Former PledgeMusic employees claim the company did not hold any money in the artist’s account, instead using funds for ongoing operations to grow the company.