Musetic.com aims to create a community-curated home for all
A new social media site based in Chattanooga is offering a place for creators of all types to share their art.
Since launching Jan. 7 of this year, Musetic has registered just under 200 users, ahead of its goals but still a modest number when all artists in all genres are the target audience. But the quality—and geography—of its creators is already surprising.
A quick click-tour found a painter in Southern California who makes geometric patterns and ethereal landscapes that change throughout the day because they are made with light-reactive paint (Shayla Maddox); an illustrator in France (LoicP) who posts spot illustrations and comic pages; a musician (Chris Williams) videotaped using audio loops to layer tracks he creates using classical violin, beat boxing and singing; Hollie Chastain of Chattanooga, with an eerie collage-drawing of a guy with interesting tats, face plunged into a clear stream as if he’s examining the rocks on the bottom; and Jamie Barks in Cleveland, Tennessee, whose images range from a folksy, ark-ish boat (the most popular image posted to date) to ethereal forests of trees painted with coffee.
“Musetic is definitely a social site, but its heart is a lot bigger than that,” says co-founder Dave Connis, a 24-year old writer and musician. “Its heart is in community and giving creators a place to call home.”
The seed that became Musetic was planted when Connis found out the hard way that Reddit does not allow people to post self-created works. After getting his hand slapped for linking to his own work on the site, he wondered: if this kind of thing isn’t allowed on Reddit, where would it be allowed? The answer, he found, was pretty much “nowhere.”
What Connis wanted was a place where artists of all types could submit their work, curated by the community through upvoting and commenting. Instead, he found plenty of sites that were homes to creators of one type of art (like Noisetrade for music), or gargantuan repositories for everything, including art among all the lolcats and WTF stuff (YouTube and Imgur, for example), or arts blogs with curatorial gatekeepers (like BoredPanda, Laughing Squid, Colossal).
“I was honestly surprised,” he says. “Surely I cannot have been the first person to think of this. But I’ve done a lot of research looking for something like Musetic. I haven’t found anything.”
Connis brought in co-founder Josh Chandler, age 26, to do the site development. Musetic is the first startup for each of them.
Here’s how it works. Only original artworks created by the person posting are allowed. Cute kids and cat videos, take a hike. Anyone can register to comment and upvote, but only creators can post.
“Yesterday on the front page, we had an electric guitar maker, photography, music and videos,” he says. “It was a conglomeration of a lot of really cool art. That’s why we exist—for everyone to have a chance to go viral and to be community of people that are engaging with each other, talking about what other people are making. The community is a big part of it, too.”
Every creator who signs up to post is vetted but not really screened. Perhaps because he is committed to Musetic being community curated, Connis underscores the idea that he does not want to be a gatekeeper.
“We’re just making sure people signing up have legitimate works, not just stick figures,” he says. “We haven’t turned anyone down yet,” although some deemed not safe for work have been turned away temporarily, until filters are in place.
He is reaching out to any identifiable arts group he can find in Chattanooga and beyond. New York, Chicago and San Francisco are frequent targets.
“Art is art, but it really becomes art when it’s shared,” he says. “People don’t make art for it to sit in a room. People make art to share. We want to be a place where that happens.”
Musetic is currently self-funded. Eventually, Connis plans to introduce ways to monetize the site, perhaps offering banner ads on category pages and hosting to artists—all posts on Musetic now link to pieces hosted elsewhere—and seeking investors.
For now, he is concentrating on building a diverse community, reaching out intensively to one artistic category per week, including animators, filmmakers, dancers, artists and writers.
“I want to make sure we’re not getting heavy handed on one specific creator group,” he says. “I’d like to see all sorts of people in Musetic. We’re reaching out to different groups of creators equally.”