Monday, July 14, 2008

Beg, Borrow, Barter, Buy...?

I'm still pretty much a CD guy. I like having a physical CD of an album, complete with lyrics and liner notes. But as someone who keeps an eye on the Internet, culture, and new technologies, I'm incredibly interested in newer, more relevant forms of content delivery.

We've been thru the much maligned file sharing/peer-to-peer thing with Napster (both old and new), Frostwire, Limewire, Kazaa, on down to newer, more conventional online retailers, such as iTunes and the like. But really, is there a need for a middle man? While many artists have lamented the theft of their music online (and I fully understand and appreciate their arguments) I've long believed that file-sharing, for the most part, can help artists.

But some artists and digital denizens have come up with an interesting business model that takes care of distribution, offers people music inexpesively (or free!) and, in the long run, works for the artist. While there are a number of websites out there following the same business model, one that bears watching is And the man behind the concept knows what he's talking about. Two years ago Derek Webb decided to offer his CD as a free download (pre-Radiohead.) Take what you want, pay what you like...even if its nothing. For his part, Webb collected your email address, and as it says on the NoiseTrade site:

In three month's time Webb gave away over 80,000 full downloads of his record and collected valuable information for as many new fans. In addition, Derek has since seen many sold out shows and increased merchandise and record sales, including a curious spike in sales of the very record that was given for free.
Blows many of the arguments against free-downloads out of the water, eh? Now Webb and his partners are offering that service to an ever-growing roster of other indie artists, including Sixpence None the Richer, Katie Herzig, and Micah Dalton. Offer your album on NoiseTrade and give listeners the chance to download the music by either paying whatever they want...or by telling 3 of their friends about the site. Great marketing tool, and while this may not be the next big thing in music distribution, its a model I REALLY like.
And it's a great model for newer local artists. I haven't heard of a large majority of the artists on the site, but you better believe I'm going to be downloading their albums and sampling them. Some I will like, and others....not so much. But among them will be artists, with no publicity machine, no label, and little audience outside of their home region....and they'll have found a new fan in me, and many others who sample their music as well.
Check it out. Get some new music for your MP3 player, and support these musicians. I'll be interested in seeing how this model of distribution works, both for the artists and the consumers...and how it evolves in the near future.
Any other interesting distribution models out there we should be aware of?

1 comment:

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