Tag Archives: we are hunted

When Old Is New Again: From Cassettes To Multicolored Vinyl

This post is syndicated from Yahoo! Music Stop the Presses!

Monetizing music ain’t what it used to be. In an age where digital music files are easily ripped, downloaded and distributed, the urge to pay for that great new album has steadfastly declined.

Alongside torrents, mixtapes, and social websites like Hype Machine, Exfm and We Are Hunted, streaming services like Rdio, Rhapsody, MOG and Spotify make music discovery easy.  It’s been reported that with an annual growth rate of nearly 95%, subscribers to cloud-based music services will exceed 161 million in 2016.

This makes it easier for an artist to share their work with the masses  – but how can the same artist pay the bills with the concept of free?

When it comes to the actual making money part, bands have no choice but to get creative. And many are doing just that – by inventing new channels and resurrecting familiar ones.

The indie-rock band Radiohead is perhaps the ultimate example of exploring new distribution opportunities in the 21st century. In 2007, they incorporated a “pay what you want” model for the album In Rainbows.

For their recent release The King Of Limbs, the band decided to offer up several options.  The album will come in two digital formats – either 320 kbps MP3s ($9) – or CD-quality, uncompressed WAV files ($14). For the super fan, the third and pricier option is a newspaper album ($48 + $53). It offers  MP3s or WAVs along with vinyl, CD, several large sheets of artwork, 625 tiny pieces of artwork and a full-color piece of degradable plastic to hold it all together.

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A Rant on Accessibility, Part 2: Gimme Gimme

Music Technology is  slowly changing. It’s adopting to consumer needs by giving music fans access to music anytime, almost anywhere, from anyplace.

New models like Rdio and Spotify allow us to search and listen for pretty much anything as long as there’s a solid network connection + computer or smart phone.  We can easily create playlists and share them with friends. We can discover new music and in the case of Spotify, collaborate on dynamic playlists and create artist or decade-centric radio stations.

Old models like Rhapsody work like a storefront while granting us access to music in exchange for a monthly subscription fee. This model, although advanced at the time, still doesn’t allow us to see other users’ playlists or collaborate in an interactive way.

MOG is a strong contender in the marriage of content with editorial. With a firehose of musical content coming at us constantly, it’s nice to have direction from tastemakers to learn about what’s worth checking out.

Most notably, portability has become a reality with the development of apps for the smart phone. On the open-source Android platform, music specific apps like iMusic and Chompin make listening to music on the go a breeze – and are possibly the cleverest of the new breed.

Both apps aggregate music from blogs rather than hosting the content locally.

iMusic snags it’s musical database from what users are already listening to, similar to how Last.fm agreggates possibly one of the largest collections of music metadata on the internet simply by leveraging the data provided by its users.

By aggregating music from blogs, both services eschew potential legalities of making music available that hasn’t been officially released to the marketplace yet. It also broadens search.

Crawling blogs makes the odds of finding the exact track one is looking for – a b-side, remix, or live version – much greater.

This is particularly important because music fans take pride in discovering something new and/or exclusive. We invest our time in these sites. It’s disappointing when we can’t get access to music we know is out there. We can’t play DJ, or personalize playlists on your site as much as we’d like to.

What iMusic and Chompin are doing is brilliant, not only because it makes the user experience better – but it’s also indicative of a newer and perhaps broader way of purchasing music.

Labels are still hesitant to leave content in the hands of consumers. Sure, we download illegal promos, search for torrents of leaked albums, and unflinchingly pass along un-licensed mixtapes. But in truth this isn’t a bad thing.

Here’s why: music fans do it feverishly. They do it with a passion. They chomp at the proverbial bit for these leaks.

We want to be tastemakers. We’re eager to be the first to tell our friends about something new. And when we like it, we’re telling everyone we know.  Hyperdistribution, anyone? Even according to the old business model, this remains the single best way to acquire a superfan.

If a record has stickiness, it can be released into the wild and it WILL be noticed.

It might not be picked up on the traditional charts but you’ll see it on Hype Machine. It’ll appear on We Are Hunted. You’ll see friends dedicate singles to one another and watch viral videos over and over again. Let these users decide what they like. Give them access to everything, and keep an eye on the numbers. If the music is good and the marketing power behind the band is smart enough – the revenue will follow.

The concept of music ownership is affected by the aforementioned technologies anyway. Why would I want to tend to my un-wieldy music collection when I can queue up a playlist in the cloud?

To be clear, ownership is not going away. It’s simply changing.

If I can listen to a full, lo-fi version of a amazing record on repeat – for free – I’ll gladly shell out my hard-earned moolah for hi-res WAV files.

I’ll buy a ticket to the show when the band comes to town. If I’m in love with a particular record (which tends to happen every week with die-hard music fanatics), I’ll see them again and again. I’ll be inclined to purchase vinyl or limited-edition items like prints and other merch.

Make music more accessible – and let the fans decide.

If it’s good enough, they’ll tell their friends. And buy concert tickets. And a hi-res copy of the album.  And subscribe to the fan club.

And so on, and so on.

related:

A Rant on Accessibility, Part 1

Musings: Crafting Mixtapes in a Digital Age

Mining Moof

Moof.com is one service of many that’s a step closer to granting us an all-access portal to our iTunes music collections from off-site.

A simple .xml export/import from iTunes allows Moof to quickly assess your library, referencing all tracks and playlists located there.

Moof currently pulls content from YouTube. Often, it pulls live versions of songs rather than the original, making it fun to watch video playback while adding a new dimension to the casual listening experience.

The site brings closer the idea of having access to our music collection anywhere, from any device of choice (almost – when am I gonna get access from my car stereo receiver, anyway?). A huge bonus is the ability to share songs and playlists with others.

Some sites like Drowned in Sound and We Are Hunted already do this on cloud-based music streaming service Spotify.

It will be interesting to see if Moof – or a related site – will eventually partner with content providers to enable full-on access to everything in my iTunes library whether it be live versions, remixes, rarities, or originals.

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