by Nicole Seitz
Last December I interviewed senior music industry student Matt Alonso about his Kickstarter for Cortex which successfully raised $5,500. It may sound cheesy, but what once was an idea has now become a reality for Alonso after nine months of dealing with the ups and downs of the industry and working four jobs to make sure his dream would come true.
The platform of Cortex is a way for musicians to connect with their fans, according to Alonso. Currently the website thecortexmusic.com can be used for fans to download their favorite artists’ music for free. Artists that are registered with Cortex currently include current Blue Hawk Records artists Littlebear and The Ramparts Rebel and some Monmouth alumni bands like The Bunks, Flammable Animals, and Grin & Bear. Some local bands, such as Bounders and The Black Sox Scandal, are featured on the website as well.
The website had its first soft launch in mid-September 2016. Artists pay a single payment of $50 to start connecting with their fans and making money off their music. Although this is only the beginning, Alonso has a lot in store for Cortex. Within the next year Alonso wants to “go towards streaming music for these artists’ and get them paid more than Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music combined.”
We have seen artists like Beyoncé and Taylor Swift take a stand against the music streaming sites that only seek to take money from artists. Alonso’s goal is to “put the music industry back in the hands of the artists.”
He explained that current CEO’s of these streaming sites have a formula they use to calculate how much money goes to the artist and how much goes to them and Alonso blatantly stated “I made up my own formula and it’s better.”
His whole platform revolves around making sure the artist get paid fairly and can connect with their fans. Alonso recently celebrated his first two cents of revenue, and although that may not be much to most of us, it meant the world to him and the future of Cortex.
His focus is on the artist themselves. “If [Cortex] helps at least one other person, I’ll be grateful,” Alonso stated. He is a huge music lover himself and sees the dwindling appreciation for the art of music. “Music is a beautiful thing that is taken for granted,” Alonso believes.
Alonso’s goal is to raise awareness of this lost art by starting locally. Many of the artists that represent Cortex right now are Monmouth County bands, and Alonso hopes that by being a part of Cortex they can grow. Alonso said, “Every band that anyone has ever loved was once a local band.” He urged people to support their local artists by listening to your local music scene.
Joe Rapolla, Chair and specialist professor of the Music and Theatre Arts department, has had Alonso as a student and says “This is exactly the kind of creative initiative we love to see our students take. I applaud Matt’s entrepreneurial efforts with Cortex. I’ve told him, like we tell all of our students, that we are here to support them if they have an idea that they’d like to pursue…whether while here at Monmouth, or beyond.”
Rapolla continued “I am constantly making the point that the business world isn’t just looking for workers to come in to be told what to do, but rather innovators that ask how they can add value, and contribute to a solution.”
Dave DePaola, a senior music industry student, commented, “Matt is such a great dude and has such a love and passion for music. He’s doing something that the industry should have been doing for years and he’s doing it all to help promote the art of music and get artists’ the appreciation they deserve. I wish him all the luck through out this whole journey.”
The future of Cortex will provide artists an option to pay a little more and register to be Premium Artists. This premium feature will allow artists to see the demographics of who is listening to their music and where these fans are.
This feature will allow the musicians to get to the fans that are listening and make more connections with them. Alonso described how there is a huge disconnect between artists and fans and this feature can hopefully break down those walls.
The passion and enthusiasm Alonso has for this project and for music in general is evident. He has big plans for the future and hopes to change the world of the music industry. If you’re interested in checking out the website go to thecortexmusic.com and sign up to be a fan and become a part of a music revolution.