CASH Music

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CASH Music
FoundedNovember 25, 2008 (2008-11-25)
FounderKristin Hersh, Donita Sparks, Jesse von Doom
FocusSustainable independent music
Area served
MethodOpen source, education
Key people
Jesse von Doom, Maggie Vail (co-executive directors)

CASH Music (Coalition of Artists and Stakeholders) is a non-profit organization based out of Portland, Oregon founded by Kristin Hersh of Throwing Muses, Donita Sparks of L7, and Jesse von Doom. The organization is run by co-executive directors Jesse von Doom and Maggie Vail. CASH Music takes an open source approach to music production and distribution, and works directly with musicians and labels to help design the tools they build.


CASH Music evolved from a discussion about the sustainability of the music industry between musicians Kristin Hersh, Donita Sparks, and their managers Billy O'Connell and Bob Fagan.[1] Von Doom became involved shortly thereafter. Meanwhile, Portland-based record label Kill Rock Stars had reached out to von Doom, who operated a small web development studio, Dutchmoney, to build a new label website. Von Doom went "above and beyond" and created promotional tools that allowed then KRS VP Vail to "keep tabs on which music writers logged into the site and how many times they listened to the tunes".[2] Vail, who was impressed with the tools and supported the CASH Music's mandate joined its board of directors in 2007. She became its co-executive director, alongside von Doom, in 2011.

Platform and Other Code[edit]

The CASH Music platform is a free collection of tools for artists and labels to sell, share, and promote music directly to their fans. It is entirely open source, with all code available for viewing or forking at GitHub.[3]

The platform currently enables digital purchases, download code generation and redemption, email collection, secure downloads, tour dates, member areas, and social feeds.

While many of the platform's features operate independently, it was also designed to be compatible with third-party resources, such as MailChimp, Google Drive, and PayPal through APIs. The idea is to "integrate seamlessly with as many relevant Web services as possible".[4]

Artists currently using the CASH Music platform include Brendan Benson, Calexico, Deerhoof, Explosions in the Sky, 50 Foot Wave, Health., Iron & Wine, Kina Grannis, Learning Music, Lushlife, No Age, Portugal. The Man, The Raincoats, Ray LaMontagne, The Swell Season, The Thermals, Xiu Xiu, Zoë Keating, Zola Jesus.

Participating labels include Mom + Pop Music, FatCat Records, Kill Rock Stars, Nat Geo Music, Sacred Bones Records, Saddle Creek Records, Sub Pop, and Temporary Residence Limited.


cashmusic.js is a lightweight JavaScript library that handles CASH Music embeds available through the platform, provides video lightboxing compatible with YouTube and Vimeo, and simple audio players.

The library is distributed under a simplified BSD license, which imposes nominal restrictions on its redistribution. The library was designed to not interfere with jQuery or similar libraries, and relies on no external dependencies besides SoundManager 2 for audio playback.[5]


Central to CASH Music's mandate is a focus on learning. They are currently developing an educational curriculum geared towards empowering artists by equipping them with both resources and technical skills. The non-profit hosted two summits in Portland, OR, in summer 2013, and is hosting its next summit in Los Angeles in November 2013.

I.R.S. Scrutiny and 501(c)3 Status[edit]

Von Doom sought 501(c)(3) status for CASH Music in February 2009, only to have his application denied by the IRS in June 2012. His rejection letter was signed by Lois Lerner, the embattled former Director of the IRS Exempt Organizations division, who was placed on administrative leave after it was revealed that the IRS had targeted political groups applying for tax-exempt status based on keywords contained in their names and suspected political allegations. While initial speculation pointed to Super PACs being targeted based on conservative keywords, a New York Times article that ran on June 5, 2013, revealed that IRS scrutiny extended beyond the political. The term open source is a keyword that is now known to have flagged CASH Music for further investigation, as "the IRS feared that such groups were really moneymaking enterprises".[6]

Despite being denied 501(c)(3) status, CASH Music continues to operate as a non-profit on the state level (Oregon) and will continue to seek federal non-profit status.


Current members:

Former members:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Endsley, Rikki (February 20, 2012). "How to Kickstart an Open Source Music Revolution with CASH Music".
  2. ^ Ehrlich, Brenna (March 7, 2012). "Kickstarter-Funded CASH Music Turns Drummers Into Devs". MTV Hive.
  3. ^ "CASH Music". GitHub. Retrieved 2017-02-12.
  4. ^ Titlow, John Paul (February 29, 2012). "WordPress For Musicians: CASH Music Wants to Open Source the Industry". ReadWrite.
  5. ^ "cashmusic.js".
  6. ^ Weisman, Jonathan (June 5, 2013). "I.R.S. Scrutiny Went Beyond the Political". The New York Times.

External links[edit]

Press coverage[edit]