DINING WITH JAY Z, Beyoncé, and Kanye West* 

Fork everything

Make things, together

Today, USV announced its investment in Splice—a network to help music producers create better music together.

Splice streamlines the fragmented process of creating and sharing music, freeing musicians to spend their time and energy on the creative process. Splice simplifies music creation by bringing all of the steps into one, frictionless digital home.

For a very long time, creators have believed that entertainment was a zero-sum game. And it was. If you were watching NBC on television, it was impossible to also watch ABC simultaneously. Thus, a belief that when one artist succeeds, another artist loses.

Lucky for us, this changed with the advent of the internet. When you look at the number of creators, especially in music production, the market is expanding. As creators gain access to cheaper tools, discover easier financing options, and instantly distribute their work across the world, we’ve seen more projects started and more success stories realized. So much so, it’s a positive-sum game.

Production networks lower barriers and open the talent pool for more people to create.

On most creative frontiers, we’ve seen networks form at the financing layer (Kickstarter) and distribution layer (SoundCloud, VHX, Tumblr, Etsy), but the communities at the production layer are still untapped. The democratization of financing and distribution yield more access to existing creators; production networks lower barriers and open the talent pool for more people to create.

Given the Splice news, I’ll stick with a music analogy. The tools to create music have gotten cheaper—every Mac comes with GarageBand and you can even make great music on your phone. With these technological advances, the creation process itself hasn’t changed: a piece of work still finds a stopping point, and it’s still passed along to be completed by a specialist. It just chugs down the assembly line, being updated one person at a time.

The fact is that the creative process is ripe for innovation, and we’re just getting started.

Now that we have access to higher bandwidth, which makes storing large files is easy, we’ve all been trained by Dropbox & Google Drive to share information and collaborate. And if you spend any time lurking in creative communities, you’ll notice that producers have been hacking solutions together without the aid of engineers. In music-production forums, for instance, we’ve seen producers develop a Dropbox-powered sharing network along with a private torrent community to share and collaborate on tracks.

Additionally, Github has proven that a community on top of a version control system not only works—but it provides productivity and social efficiency. (Social efficiency being the open-source movement.) On Github, engineers “fork” projects from other engineers to contribute and remix their work, providing a framework to solve problems and build on-top of each other. It’s useful for creators who need help, those who have a mental block, and for others who just want to learn how something’s done. Lucky for us, the engineers who grew up with Github are now turning to new industries, and the same efficiencies apply.

The fact is that the creative process is ripe for innovation, and we’re just getting started. Thanks to a realization that creativity is positive-sum, the advent of remix culture, and creators who are willing to help each other, both fans and producers can now witness the process of making things.

Splice is just the first step in a series of other producer-networks that will challenge our creative process outside of the engineering-driven Github. Other entrants to this include HelpMeWrite, a community for writers to get started, Medium, a network to edit drafts (so meta), and Blend, a Dropbox-based community for music producers.

All that being said, we can expect more “forking” as we Github-ify existing processes, increasing connections and promoting creativity.

I don’t know about you, but it all sounds delicious to me.

*Also, the picture above is from Kanye & JAY Z’s documentary for Watch the Throne—just a reminder of the goodness that occurs when great people work together.