Before The Data - Who we are, our story, and how we want to bring music discovery to Web3

Who are we?

A collective of music fanatics with a shared belief in the need for human-led music discovery and curation, especially in the current data-driven landscape. Broadly, we aim to bridge the gap between all the amazing undiscovered music out there and the average listener, making the best new music accessible to everyone.

The Team:

Chad Hillard

Cole Ryan

  • Co-Founder, Editor, Creative Director Before The Data
  • VP of A&R Dreams Never Die Records
  • Follow: Twitter & IG

Ben Frigeri

  • Senior Writer, Before The Data
  • Artist Manager, A&R
  • Follow: Twitter & IG

Luke Stacey

  • Writer, Before The Data
  • A&R, Elektra Records
  • Artist manager
  • Follow: Twitter & IG

Kiddest Sinke

  • Writer, Before The Data
  • Associate Editor, All Things Go
  • Musician
  • Follow: Twitter & IG

Our Story

Our story begins in 1999 when the birth of Napster began democratizing music discovery, providing anyone with a computer the opportunity to sift through an endless number of songs from all over the world. Prior to this controversial piracy explosion, music discovery was a cumbersome, expensive endeavour, inaccessible to most.

As we started to realize just how much amazing music was sitting quietly on the internet, these early years ignited our passion to share unheard gems with as many people as possible.

In 2007, after nearly a decade of purely recreational music discovery, we started a blog called Hillydilly, originally intended as nothing more than an efficient means of sharing music with close friends.

As Hillydilly gained momentum, its ethos and purpose became clear: to share music on a song-by-song basis, solely based on each individual track’s quality—and nothing else. Regardless of whether a song came from an undiscovered talent or a superstar, we assessed everything equally, with as little bias as possible. We were determined to be the most reliable source for music discovery and curation, untouched by nepotism, politics, or monetary gain.

During Hillydilly’s 14 year run, we were lucky enough to discover and help break some enormously influential artists (Billie Eilish, LANY, Lorde, healy + many more), earning us our reputation as a trusted source of music discovery and curation—something that we are immensely proud of.

The Future

When Hillydilly shut down in May of 2020, we started Before The Data, which allowed us to shift our focus towards shining a light on the need for human-led curation in a music business climate that heavily prioritizes data and algorithms.

While data and algorithms have their extremely useful place in music, we believe that human curation is still essential for a healthy climate. We’re here to provide that service for those who share the same ethos.

At the time of this post, no A.I. (to our knowledge) can discover great artists and songs without a human finding it first. Thus is the purpose of Before The Data: finding and sharing great songs, while supporting the humans who discover them.

Before The Data + Web3

From our perspective, we’ve seen the beginning of a sort of renaissance in the arts and technology world, occurring alongside the recent movement towards decentralization and community ownership in what’s being labeled the latest iteration of the internet: Web3.

As the tech evolves and becomes widely adopted, we’re anticipating a major shift where artists, curators, and fans will participate in building valuable communities around things they love and find sustainability within.

We’re devoted to leading the charge on discovering, supporting, and onboarding new artists into this web3 ecosystem, nurturing a human-focused music discovery community that shares in the upside of the resulting cultural capital.

Be it through music NFTs, community fundraising, or any other innovative platforms that we expect to emerge in the web3 space, we intend to help create a more equitable landscape not only for brand-new artists to find their footing and audience, but also for passionate, music-loving humans to share the great music they find.

Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Spotify, TikTok, Discord & Twitch.

Special acknowledgement to our current contributors & additional team members Stephen Pollock, Lucas Martinez & Shane Friedman.


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