Edited (and Opinion) by Sid Yadav.
The phenomenon of MySpace has brought indie musicians the kind of audience they’ve always needed. With a number of indie bands forming and gaining popularity, the question of how they’ll be able to actually make money out of their music has been raised. Three services — Jamendo, SellABand, and Project Opus — stand out of the crowd as services that could change the music industry and give indie artists a platform to sell their music.
Luxembourg based Jamendo (Jam – Crescendo) is a designed to allow musicians reach their audience in a new way. Artists can use the Jamendo service to distribute their music under the Creative Commons license for nearly no cost. Users can review bands and make donations directly on the site. Jamendo has wisely embraced BitTorrent technology as a means of distributing albums to users. The site is also beta testing a revenue sharing scheme which allows artists to take 50% of advertising revenue from the site based on page hits.
Project Opus, based in Vancouver, Canada, is a service working to promote local bands and build an online community out of their fanbases. Project Opus sorts music by region and is searchable by genre. Artists on Opus can sell their music or have the option of making it available for free distribution. They’ve also developed what they call ‘Players‘ which offers a Pandora-like service, helping enthusiasts to reach out to more of the kind of music they like.
SellABand is a service I absolutely love, which includes an interesting twist that truly could revolutionize the way music is created including production and distribution. Basically, the site allows bands to upload 3 songs that fans can listen to and rank on the site. If users enjoy the music, they can become “believers” and can buy “parts” of the band. Each part costs a user $10. When bands reach $50,000 in user funding, that money is used to produce a professional album for the artist. What makes this idea so compelling is the way believers are compensated if the artists reaches the $50,000. If a user bought 1 part ($10) they are given a CD after it has been produced, and if they bought more parts, they share in advertising revenue. This is a win-win situation for artists and music lovers — in a way, a stock market for indie music artists — but instead of buying a CD, fans can actually invest in bands they really enjoy, and get something out of it.
The whole point of services like these is to offer incentives to convert listeners into fans, who in turn are the ones that buy the music they love and let their artists know that they support them. While indie music in general isn’t up to the point where artists could earn the kind of sums regular ‘signed’ artists do, I think it has the potential to get to the point, with the help of such service, they at least get what they deserve.