Stay the Hell Away from Viberate


Remember my satirical article about a shady-ass promoter selling bands fake currency to help them with promotion? Turns out that in the dystopian novel that is 2017, it isn’t so satirical. Meet tech bros Viberate, mappers of the global live music industry, deliverers of more transparency, increasers of payment discipline, and enablers of under-the-radar band exposure. Or, more succinctly, Silicon Valley’s answer to the traditional promoters’ pay-to-play schemes and other middle-man scalping in the music industry.

Viberate came to my attention thanks to an advertisement article they paid shameless shills disguised as metal bloggers MetalSucks to run. In that article, the author (likely a Viberate communications manager puppeting MetalSucks) notes Viberate’s goal:

Their goal is to develop a comprehensive marketplace where musicians will be able to get paid in cryptocurrencies, and give event organizers a set of tools to find and book performers in an easier way. The platform is already up and running, currently listing more than 130,000 profiles of various musicians from all over the globe.

Oh joy, another cryptocurrency! Just what the dangerously unstable market, whose bubble is surely going to burst soon due to rampant speculation and predatory futures investment, not to mention the wave of fraudulent initial coin offerings under investigation from the powers that be, needs! And before you Ron Paul-batting neckbeards chime in with “Huehuehue is the money in your wallet real?”, let me retort. Yes. Yes it is. It’s backed by Federal regulations, international trade, and one big-ass military. I can drive down to the sketchy Mexican joint in Jordan Lake and buy myself a big-ass serving of chorizo with the fiat currency in my wallet, and you cannot with your bitcoins because you are a jive sucker.

So, Viberate is a tech company’s wet dream trading in Monopoly money and music. But what exactly are they asking you to do?

“We are rolling out a mechanism which will allow our contributors to receive a reward for helping us grow,” said Vasja Veber, COO and cofounder. This means that everybody that either expands their database, keeps it up to date or helps grow the community and promote the service will get paid in VIB tokens.

Well that’s not very helpful. Let’s take a look at Viberate’s participation section to gather some more clues, Scooby. According to the source, here’s what you, the mark, can do to “work in music.”

  1. Make new entries, suggest profile changes or add ticket links.
  2. Share the unique referral link with your friends or invite them to join the platform via email.
  3. Connect your social accounts and share the news.

Sounds like unpaid promotional work to me. What’s that? You do get paid? In VIB tokens? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

So the tech start-up uses gullible stans for cheap free labor. But what benefit do bands get for buying into the program? That answer is a bit harder to find. There’s a white paper (tech bros and business folks like Michael Stelzner love white papers because they’re structurally designed to convince you that you need some new product) available on the site, but I found this external ICO analysis page a bit more useful.

Viberate is a platform that joins the entire live music ecosystem under one roof. Currently it acts as IMDB for live music, where profiles are ranked according to their online popularity. It is built and curated by the Viberate user community. Our end game is to disrupt the music industry as we know it – by becoming the biggest global talent marketplace.

Essentially, Viberate seeks to cut out the shady flesh-and-blood promoters and management and replace them with objective, unfeeling blockchains. It’s an idea that sounds good on (white) paper, but then you remember that Bandcamp exists and that metal thrives from a DIY structure. Eliminating the potential scalping that shadows a massive corporation like Ticketmaster doesn’t matter much when you aren’t playing stadiums, and this platform’s own ambition to curate a list of hand-picked venues certainly opens ticket sales to the unpredictable nature of hacking and speculation. Plus, blockchains aren’t going to put gas in your farty van, so who’s really going to benefit from this?

Oh. That makes sense. Venture capitalists and millionaires. Sound familiar?

So where does that leave us? Promotion on a click-farm supported platform that no one with any sort of industry cache will use. Plus fancy flowcharts!

If that doesn’t look like it actually says anything, that’s because it doesn’t. Look, I’m a professional researcher at an academic institution. I am a master of saying absolutely nothing in 500+ words. That right there, and all of the other marketing buzzwords upchucked across Viberate’s unnecessarily convoluted website, is just cynical, focus group-calibrated drivel meant to convey sophistication and know-how.

So what is Viberate, really? By all appearances, a scam music platform meant to funnel money away from those already extorting eager young artists toward investors eager to extort young artists and fans both by coercing young people into doing free marketing work that rewards already huge bands with a totally made up currency. Oh, and it has a store!

“We believe anyone interested should be able to participate in shaping the future of the music industry,” Veber explained. It is worth noting that the music industry – already a huge one – is poised for additional growth in the coming years. That is another reason why Viberate is confident of the potential of their business. “And we urge people interested in music to join us and become a part of the movement.”

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