Recording Industry Update

This Wired article from Wednesday points to an interesting case: a record label that enables sharing, lets you try before you buy, and splits the proceeds of sales 50/50 with artists from the get go. This label, Magnatune, has about 50 signed artists. Also interesting is that the artists retain rights to the songs; they can record them elsewhere, etc. The contractual rights are under a Creative Commons limited-rights license. Interesting business model — it looks to me like Magnatune’s value added to the consumer is in the flexible share/buy model and in serving as some quality screen; this model is apparently appealing to enough artists that Magnatune can be selective:

Magnatune receives submissions from 200 artists a week and signs about 15 a month. Buckman considers this choosiness a selling point — an assurance that someone is separating the wheat from the chaff.

He is also betting that Magnatune’s rebellious attitude will resonate with an audience alienated by the big labels’ tactics.

Us, alienated by the big labels? NOOOOOO, you’re kidding!

Speaking of being alienated by the big labels, RIAA Radar is an invaluable tool if you want to know in advance whether or not the music label that releases your fave tunes is a member of the Recording Evil Empire. If you search on a particular artist’s name, it will list all of the known recordings, the label, and tell you whether or not it’s safe to buy. There’s even a handy click-box through to Amazon.

Unfortunately the label that puts out most of what I want to buy right now, Blue Note, is a RIAA member. That’s too bad, because I’ve got more Kurt Elling, Stefon Harris, and Patricia Barber all record with Blue Note. Deep sigh … well, at least I can see Kurt Elling and Patricia Barber live frequently at home (gloat gloat).

Lots of compilations and electronica/techno/trance/ambient stuff is non-RIAA, so that’s where I’ll get my listening pleasure.

And I was going to ask for Elvis Costello’s new album and a bunch of Mozart for Christmas, but Deutsche Grammaphon is a member of the Evil Empire too.

RIAA Radar is a great tool, but it’s making me very sad right now.