Online music services and payolaApril 23, 2009
Book editors Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden, who are involved in educating would-be authors about scammers who who would defraud them by posing as reputable publishers (rather than as the vanity presses they are), frequently quote Yog’s Law: Money should always flow towards the author. The music industry variant seems to have historically been, “Money flows towards the artists, but not if we can help it.”
But that’s no longer true, it seems. Recently, two streaming music services instituted pay-for-play schemes: $30 on Jango, and $200 on last.fm, buys you 1000 plays of your music, slotted between songs by the established artists of your choice. There’s a great overview article here.
I’m all for doing things differently in the brave new world of online distribution for artists, and part of that is thinking of new ways to get your music out to listeners who might like it. But I am fundamentally wary of any business model that puts the best interests of the company (in this case, making money from selling music slots) in opposition to the the best interests of the user (hearing music they like), rather than aligned with them. Maybe I’ve just been hanging around with Paul Lamere too much, but it seems like a more sustainable model would be to get the music recommendation part right first, and try to monetize it afterwards.
I’d be interested in knowing what others think about this. Please share your thoughts!