The Music Industry: Trendy Shiznit, Can Your Business Model Work?

Posted 1/12/2009 by coelder in Labels: , , , , ,
My good friend and fellow ArtStar writer, Mike, and I have an ongoing discussions about the music industry: where it's been, where it's going, and how the heck musicians are going to make money over the next 5 years. Between limewire, where you truly steal artistic capital, and Bopaboo where you buy and sell "used" digital music like used minutes from Alltel or a used couch from Craig's List, there is a wide range of ways to fill your iPod for fractions of a dollar per song. As a note, Bopaboo is currently undergoing beta testing and legal/public scrutiny, but still indicates that it will launch.

Now, as the indie records move from the bottom line of hard copy album sales to single track digital sales and making money from small venue shows, how do the record companies and small bands capture the market with the millions of songs to chose from on iTunes? Labels like Quote Unquote have gone on the proverbial honor system; where you can legally download full artist albums and do the old fashioned "love offering" based on your support for great-yet-struggling musicians. They suggest $5 donations for some albums, $10 for new releases and for others there's just a donate button. All goes to the artists, all is well. Bob Lefsetz and other gurus in the music industry continually comment on the future of the music business. As they acknowledge that sites like Myspace and Hypemusic have revolutionized the spread of "indie" bands from blog posts to the world pop scene in what seems like seconds, the next way to make money is limitless.

That leads me to the new rage. Maybe rage is an exaggeration. How about... Trendy Shiznit. Trendy Shiznit is a good thing. Popcuts, which launched in August, creates an mp3 market that essentially gives you dividends for buying a single mp3. As the artist sells more of that song, you get money back. The site is not that new but... this Shiznit is still around and seems to be thriving. As I've been working on the still-subpar ArtStar Myspace account (friend us yo!), I've run into a stream of artists that advertise and post their songs on Popcuts.

The beauty of this business model is that it pushes people to promote music, good or no. Let's say you buy a track that at best is a B- and gets tiring after 15 listens; then the only way to get your money back would be through tactfully pestering your friends or writing C+ blog articles to get them to buy the same mediocre track from the site. You leave with an mp3 and the possibility of getting a free credit... but... on the off chance that you hit on a rare gem, you are able to spread the word and help a band rise from the "Popcuts" scene." For that band, it may mean just a bit more.

Now the cosumer has a connection to the artist. You actually know that they are selling x amount of songs. When you see the song that you bought on a D- blog post (likely mine) and notice that they offer a link to download the mp3 for free, you see how it feels to lose your potential dividends. Mr. Blogger McBlogsalot is taking away revenue from you. Would you say something?

For this reason, I offer an experiment. ArtStar will download 10 songs from Popcuts per month. Five (5) of the songs will be by reader choice. The first 5 people that email a track (1 track per person) to ArtStar will get the track they requested posted on ArtStar.

Start recommending.


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