David Byrne On SpiralFrog

From davidbyrne.com…

9.7.06: The Empire Fights Back
A new music download site has made deals with two of the largest music catalogues in the world ? potentially, then, they could become a challenge to iTunes. But the model is way different.

From The Guardian UK:

The deal follows SpiralFrog’s agreement with Universal Music Group announced last week and means the site can offer users free legal downloads from artists such as James Blunt, Kelly Clarkson and this week’s Mercury Prize winners, Arctic Monkeys.

While iTunes charges for music ? 79p a track in Britain ? on SpiralFrog users will have to watch a short advert before they can download a song free.

As far as artists are concerned, it is understood they will get royalties based on how many times songs are downloaded, with the money coming from SpiralFrog’s advertising revenue.

All well and good if you want stuff these major labels have signed and approved of ? to me it implies that if you?re not an artist with one of these majors then you might have trouble getting your track available on these sites in the first place, and even then, if your stuff isn?t hot, the advertiser who is paying you will eventually balk at funding fringe stuff that doesn?t draw (the right) consumers to their products. The advertiser holds the purse strings, and will naturally pull the other strings too, despite what they may claim, so this model puts the control of what music is available back in the hands of the majors and their corporate cronies.

Not that iTunes is fair and balanced, either. I don?t know the details, but I have heard that they are like record stores of yore ? doling out position (visibility) to a very very limited number of artists. No surprise there ? there is limited space. I?ve also heard that true indie artists get inferior treatment ? lower royalty rates (or higher entry costs), less attention, and sometimes they are refused entry outright. Who?s manning the velvet rope here? What happened to that Long Tail where everything is available?

Read the rest of David’s post here.

Tags: David Byrne