Introducing Mirlo

Silhouette of a blackbird resting on a telephone wire, with five wires above and one below the wire the bird is standing on.
Photo by Dea Andreea / Unsplash

Happy new year, friends! This time last year, I was visiting Chile, not yet aware that the trip was just the beginning of a wild ride that 2023 would turn out to be. I'm grateful to be on the other side of the abdominal surgery that I underwent in May, with a clean bill of health and a few new practices in place to help keep things that way! Recovery has taken much longer than I wanted it to, of course—including a return to the ER in June for what turned out to be the world's most expensive case of strep throat. Since November, though, I've returned to trombone playing and am very excited about what this year has in store.

Since the surgery, I've obviously been slowed down along the path towards releasing Somewhere Else!!!! But the path has also taken a couple of interesting turns along the way—starting with the news that Ampled, where I was posting monthly status updates and receiving financial support from some of you for most of 2022, would close this month. Recognizing that this would mean that I'd need to find a new home for the project—and that I didn't really jive with any of the viable alternatives—I started talking with a friend who had put a good deal of effort into building the code for Resonate, a cooperative streaming platform that has also fallen on hard times of late. He invited some friends into the conversations, which laid the ground for an informal discussion group about the vicissitudes of the current digital music ecosystem we call Fun Music Place.

From there, we started dreaming up what a viable next step could be to keep the flame alive for cooperative music distribution platforms, especially given Ampled's wind-down. We started to share some of these thoughts on the internet and in our Discord server, with a few other enthusiastic folks joining in to contribute to the conversations and the open-source code. We decided to name the project Mirlo, the Spanish word for blackbird—now that Elon Musk has killed Twitter, we figured that bird-themed branding was up for grabs. Plus, blackbirds do genuinely sound nice.

In November, the project started taking off in earnest when Bandcamp—perhaps the only digital music distribution platform that wasn't actively ripping off independent musicians—was sold for the second time in as many years. As the alarm bells for the platform's inevitable enshittification began sounding non-stop, word got out on Twitter and Mastodon about our humble efforts and many more folks began to chime in. This lit a bit of a fire under our butts to get some initial pieces figured out, like where to incorporate as a business and set up a bank account. We now have a working platform with over two dozen albums already uploaded to the site!

Not coincidentally, this meant that I now had somewhere to migrate to, just as Ampled was closing its doors. This month, I uploaded Peñaflor, an original composition of mine from last year's recording session, to test out the platform—the track features Nicolás Vera on guitar, Pablo Menares on bass, and Rodrigo Recabarren on drums:

Please do poke around on the site and check out the other music on there! This project is in the very early stages, so there are still some wonky bits and bugs, so let me know if you run into anything strange while you browse.

It's been thrilling to see this launch and step more fully into the online music world again for the first time in years—I hope that you join me on this journey in the year ahead. (Deep cut: anyone remember this post from over a decade ago in the old blogging days?) And if you're not ready to open up another tab, you can have a listen to Peñaflor here, too: