Music subscription service eMusic has always puzzled me. While it was the first site to offer DRM-free downloads, I never downloaded enough music to justify paying even the lowest subscription rate. The fact that it makes you navigate a long sign-up screen and enter a credit card number before showing you the song selection and other features of the site--even if you just want a free trial--drives me nuts. But despite my skepticism, the site has some big fans among voracious consumers of indie music.
Best Buy may be known for selling the latest in technology, but it seems the retailer hasn't forgotten about people who still love the old-school way of getting their music.
Recently I remembered that big-box retailer Best Buy had an exclusive on last year's long-awaited Guns 'n' Roses release, "Chinese Democracy," and that the release included vinyl. And I read last month that the chain is running a pilot program to stock vinyl in 100 stores. (Eight whole square feet!)
But until a friend pointed me to the site today, I had no idea that you … Read more
Last week, producer Danger Mouse (best known as half of Gnarls Barkley) finally released his new album, a collaboration with noise-pop artist Sparklehorse called "The Long Dark Night of the Soul." The catch: because of an ongoing legal battle with record label EMI, the "album" isn't an album at all, but rather a blank CD-R with artwork created by movie producer David Lynch. If you're interested in supporting the cause, you can order the CD-R with a poster ($10) or full book of artwork ($50) here.
But how do you get the music? NPR … Read more
Wilco on Wednesday began streaming its new album, "Wilco (The Album)," in its entirety from its Web site. The band began circulating the record about a month ago, and anticipated that the album would be leaked on file-sharing networks. As soon as it appeared via P2P, the band offered it up as a free stream, reasoning that hardcore fans would pre-order the new album regardless, and showing confidence that fence-sitters would find it engaging enough to buy it as well, or at least be aware that the band will probably be bringing its (amazing) live show to town … Read more
Talk about a race to the bottom: a week after I pondered which digital music distribution service was cheapest, WaTunes made the question irrelevant by offering digital distribution for free. That's right--for no money down and no cut of the royalties, WaTunes promises to distribute your digital downloads to iTunes, Amazon's MP3 store, Rhapsody, eMusic, and Rhapsody.
So how does the company expect to make money? The answer became clear this week when WaTunes launched its premium-priced service, WaTunes VIP. For $29.95 a year, artists and labels will get distribution to more stores (including the Zune Marketplace), … Read more
Free, on-demand streaming music is a rising tide: since the start of 2009, I've covered relatively new services like Spotify and Just Hear It, and there are plenty of established players like MySpace Music, Imeem, and Grooveshark.
Instead of trying to stop the tide, Sony Music has wisely embraced it: starting today, the company will introduce streaming music players on the Web sites of its most popular artists, including popsters like Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, and Jacko himself. It makes perfect business sense: instead of letting some third party like Imeem sell advertisements against high-demand music, Sony can sell … Read more
Last year, I wrote about EMI's new Web portal, and speculated that the record company might use it as an aggregator site for EMI artists. Indeed, that's one feature of the site, but there's actually some other interesting stuff on there as well, including a discovery engine that lets you enter a popular artist and then finds EMI artists that sound similar. But my favorite aspect of the site is the "feedback community"--let's call it an online market research group--called SoundCheck.
I signed up a couple weeks ago, and about once a week … Read more
Enter a song title or artist's name, and Just Hear It returns a list of possible matches--including not only audio tracks, but also YouTube videos. (Songerize didn't offer choices, but started playing what it thought was the best match, and it didn't have any video content.)
In my tests so far, Just Hear It has always delivered the song I was looking for somewhere in the … Read more
If you're not familiar with the company, Sonicbids caters to independent musicians, giving them a quick way to create an online press kit, which they can then submit to venues and concert promoters to get shows. The MySpace plug-in enables artists to incorporate their MySpace info--including that critical measure of online popularity, the number of MySpace friends they have--directly into their online press kit, where promoters and bookers can see it.
This struck me because it's the second time in a week … Read more
Like I did last year, I'd like to encourage and implore music fans to celebrate the second* annual Record Store Day by visiting your local record store and buying something. You might have to step away from your computer and leave your house, but people used to do this all the time and, trust me, it can be fun.
This year, dozens of high-profile artists have joined the cause by offering exclusives, including new tracks by Modest Mouse, a bunch of 10-inch vinyl releases from Radiohead, a six-pack of 7-inch singles from the Jesus Lizard, T-shirts from Death Cab … Read more