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Ideas for a Recording Industry Alternative? 497

icewalker asks: "There has been a lot of news (here, here, and here) lately about music, copy protection, and other related issues. What I find interesting is that there are literally thousands of free bands out there that are more than worthy of listening too. Free as in they have not sold their souls (not to mention music rights) away to the devils of the music industry. But how does one get to listen to these pioneers of music? The solution could be sites like (until the mp3 royalties are forced). But what people want is a locals only site that streams, guess what, the music from free local bands only. Not just for your community but local bands from all over the US (and the world). We need a site that collects these bands and we need a streamer that plays them. No CARP royalty problems since these bands are unsigned and own the music themselves. Make it so that the artists can hopefully sell their own CD's or single songs from the same site. Anyway, mix and bake at multiple bit rates and you have a solution to the copy protected CD (I haven't bought one yet from an Indie Band). The big guys go down because they can't compete with free, better than great music on the web with a low cost distribution. So, where is this utopia? Oh! And dump the necessary registration required to listen (are you listening"
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Ideas for a Recording Industry Alternative?

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  • mylocalbands (Score:5, Informative)

    by silicongodcom ( 241132 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:37PM (#4645627) [] is trying to do this.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I think the original poster is looking for a good site that publicizes small indie and/or unpublished bands who expressly give their permission to have their stuff streamed.

      Checking, I couldn't find a link to a stream.

      I have to say, a streaming high-bandwidth ogg/mp3 stream is something I'm really looking for as an alternative to the shit playing on the big stations. I've been listening to a lot of college radio stations online that fulfill this purpose, but I'd like to see a bank of "free" and open music. is nice for grabbing music to burn on CDs for long trips and stuff, but their registration system is a pain in the ass and pretty much makes them too much of a hassle to bother with regularly.

      The other thing, which has been said, but I think could be further talked about, is that a good portion of unsigned bands SUCK. What may be needed is some kind of moderation system to promote good unsigned bands, in order to minimize the signal to crap ratio for the casual listener.

      Also, it would be cool to have a GPL-type license for releasing music that insures the music will always be free. (Does such a thing exist?) That way, good bands that do turn to the dark side will not snatch their music out of the hands of the fans that helped get them to the enviable position of being fucked by the recording industry.
      • The bandwidth consumption and streaming costs would be very high. How would it be funded if the music was GPL-type liscensed? It is a wonderful ideal but I can't figure out how it would work.
        • by dbrutus ( 71639 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @07:42PM (#4646646) Homepage
          The only way to fund bandwidth is to create coupon clipper sites. That is, put up a fund for a particular purpose and when the fund's principal is generating enough interest, fund bandwidth from that interest. Let's say a T-1 costs $500. That's $6000/year in interest income. At a reasonable assumption of 6% interest, that would make the originating fund need to be $100,000.

          I would see this as putting in a one time payment of maybe $20 for a share in a non-profit corporation devoted to establishing permanent free bandwidth services. The majority of votes would determine whose 'free' service would see the light of day first. This would only take you approx. 50,000 participants to get your first free service. That seems difficult but not impossible. Surely there are more than 50,000 people who want to ensure that there is no RIAA hegemony? But beyond that, money that is donated before reaching 50k will accumulate interest and reduce the ultimate number of members needed.

          Then again, with bandwidth prices likely to be on a long-term slide, as time goes on, the same money is likely to give greater and greater bandwidth.
        • by killthiskid ( 197397 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @07:43PM (#4646653) Homepage Journal

          I'm with you. It seems that this type of site would have major bandwith costs. How would they recover such costs... let's review:

          What I find interesting is that there are literally thousands of free bands out there that are more than worthy of listening too. Free as in they have not sold their souls (not to mention music rights) away to the devils of the music industry.

          I'll take this to mean 'free' as in will allow their music to be distributed for free.

          But how does one get to listen to these pioneers of music? The solution could be sites like (until the mp3 royalties are forced).

          Easy: Ogg Vorbis

          But what people want is a locals only site that streams, guess what, the music from free local bands only. Not just for your community but local bands from all over the US (and the world).

          Does this seem contradictory to anyone else? Only want local bands, but want all bands? I guess I can see something like an system. If you like this band, you might also like... but then we get into the expense issue again.

          We need a site that collects these bands and we need a streamer that plays them.

          Onced again, Ogg Vorbis

          No CARP royalty problems since these bands are unsigned and own the music themselves. Make it so that the artists can hopefully sell their own CD's or single songs from the same site.

          In this, I might see a solution, that solution being charging some sort of a percent of sales. It would then be in the sites interest to promote the most selling bands in the most selling areas. But isn't this a variant of the RIAA group?

          Anyway, mix and bake at multiple bit rates and you have a solution to the copy protected CD (I haven't bought one yet from an Indie Band). The big guys go down because they can't compete with free, better than great music on the web with a low cost distribution.

          I have a problem with this... the music isn't free! It costs in terms of time, bandwith, advertising, and a whole host of other issues. It -might- be free to then end user to download, but it is definitely not free.

          So, where is this utopia? Oh! And dump the necessary registration required to listen (are you listening"

          Ok, allowing some one to browse a site with no reg. I'm in, that's easy enough to do.

    • by cosmosis ( 221542 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @06:04PM (#4645868) Homepage
      This could be a change for file-sharing developers to enhance existing p2p networks, by not only integrating p2p radio, but also links to these bands websites. The end result would be a p2p file sharing network, decentralized streaming radio, and a fully integrated system for people to pay, read "tip" the artists they enjoy listening too.

      Planet P [] - Liberation through technology.
      • by br0ck ( 237309 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @07:05PM (#4646410)
        Now Rolling Stone is behind P2P and Internet radio according to this full page ad [] that they ran in the NYT yesterday in support of P2P. They may be just fishing for new readersip, but it is still an entertaining read. The full text of ad is available in PDF format [], or as follows:

        A big fat thanks to record execs

        Thank you for fighting the good fight against Internet MP3 file-swapping. Because of you, millions of kids will stop wasting time listening to new music and seeking out new bands. No more spreading the word to complete strangers about your artists. No more harmful exposure to thousands of bands via Internet radio either. With any luck they won't talk about music at all. You probably knew you'd make millions by embracing the technology. After all, the kids swapping were like ten times more likely to buy CD's, making your cause all the more admirable. It must have cost a bundle in future revenu, but don't worry - computers are just a fad anyway, and the Internet is just plain stupid. -Rolling Stone
      • decentralized streaming radio

        I've had just this very idea. It goes like this:

        The FCC actually allows low-powered FM broadcasts for amateur radio stations. Why not create a streaming standard that would allow P2P leveraging? For example, if I had a radio stream and an open standard for broadcasting that stream, complete with time-synchronization, then it wouldn't be too difficult to allow thousands of amateur-radio broadcasters to blanket an area, or an entire country, with that broadcast.

        But wait - there's more...

        Because a song only needs to be downloaded once and stored, there is no need for massive bandwidth once some good variety has been witnessed by a paticular broadcaster. At that point, the broadcast node only needs to worry about anticipating new music (obvious a continuous process) but perhaps a CD or DVD based distribution could be accomodated for those with slow connections (or broadband providers that don't like this on their network).

        So there you have it. Obviously, the 'distribution' is a bit crippled but this would be ideal for a low-budget station. Perhaps there could be a standard bootable CD ISO available for a day's rotation... That hardware in the closet is starting to look better and better, eh?
  • What a great idea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by grahamX0r ( 621117 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:37PM (#4645631)
    If only there weren't as many bad indie bands as their are bad mainstream bands.
  • one song at a time (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Cowdog ( 154277 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:39PM (#4645648) Journal
    Any system that allows consumers to purchase songs one song at a time (at a low one-song price), rather than as expensive packages (like CDs) that contain unwanted songs at a high price, will go a long way toward helping small artists get recognition.
  • Who pays the bills? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tiedyejeremy ( 559815 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:39PM (#4645649) Homepage Journal
    Sadly it comes back to a question of who pays for these web resources?

    Do the artists have to sign some contract to help support the service provided to them?

    Isn't this where the music industry started?

    • Here's my idea of a sensible contract:

      "You grant us the non-exclusive right to sell your songs over the internet or on CDs at the rate of $X per song, of which you get Y%. This contract may be cancelled by either party at any time by giving 90 days notice."
      • "You grant us the non-exclusive right to sell your songs over the internet or on CDs at the rate of $X per song, of which you get Y%. This contract may be cancelled by either party at any time by giving 90 days notice."

        That gives all of the control to the artist, who could jump record companies at any time, despite the "90 days notice" thing.

        A necessary qualifier would be "You agree not to compete with us in any markets that we are actively pursuing."

        Plus, it'd be a good idea if albums give a mass-product discount, allowing the artist to make and sell songs that don't have pop appeal, but satisfy their creativity. Locking songs to albums isn't good, but making the album useless isn't either.

    • Well but it wasn't that long ago when recording studios started at a few million, and pressing records wasn't doable in garages, and distribution meant shipping physical objects around the country...and the labels actually had something to offer. Consider the cost now of a decent garage studio that generates decent CD quality and/or MP3 and a server and some bandwidth. Big difference. Its a tech-induced reverse economy of scale. This is why I don't fear their content distribution lock on music today. It can't last. There is nothing backing it up. If they bring nothing to the party, eventually they won't be invited back.
  • Sign me up (Score:3, Funny)

    by Washizu ( 220337 ) <[bengarvey] [at] []> on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:40PM (#4645663) Homepage
    Sign me up to be a "local band from all over the US (and the world)."

  • Anti PC campaigns (Score:3, Interesting)

    by heroine ( 1220 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:41PM (#4645664) Homepage
    Campaigns against general purpose PC's are the best way to control intellectual property. You can instead sell a device that only plays what you allow it to play, which no-one can hack into. Then you allow the device to download from certain sites on the internet, store music in a popular format like OGG, and put in so many features that the user is perfectly happy to give up the ability to play illegal copies in lieu of the features.
    • by outZider ( 165286 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:43PM (#4645676) Homepage
      "popular format like OGG".

      Kinda like a mainstream desktop operating system like Linux?
      • well, yes... compared to some obscure (proprietary) format which you must have 'their' player to use.

        compared to that, ogg is quite popular, and getting more popular all the time
      • by Trogre ( 513942 )
        Kinda like a mainstream desktop operating system like Linux?

        You get the picture.

        Shortly Linux/ogg will be one of the few platforms on which you will be able to play 'free' music.

        Good luck trying to play an 'untrusted' mp3 on a palladium-enabled windows computer.

    • Campaigns against general purpose MV's (motor vehicles) are the best way to control roadway property. You can instead sell a device that only goes to the places you allow, which no one can steer to another place. Then you allow the device to download new destinations from certain sites on the internet, store those sites in a format like MSWord .Doc format, and put in so many features that the user is perfectly happy to go only where they are told.

      -- Until someone hacks the destination server and sends tons of "happy" people flying off the 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) into the sea.
  • With a business model like this, you could find revenue from several different sources. Especially when starting out, who would want to advertise on a web site, or a streaming site where "unpopular" artists are played? Perhaps to start out, one would charge a small fee from the artists themselves to help with the upkeep of the connection and the servers.

    Beyond that, as the site becomes more popular, replace it with streaming advertisements, advertisements on the site, and keep a minimal fee for the artists (consider it an investment fee - we'll play you, but there is no guarantee the listeners, or the DJs will like you).

    Could this be the new radio?
  • SomeSongs (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Spittoon ( 64395 )

    Good stuff, cheap. Er, free. Click the "Top Songs" link on the right-hand side to see the songs that have the highest rating. Or any number of other options. It's a cool site, ad-free, for the love of music.

    There are a bunch of other sites for finding interesting songs, if you have time to listen to a lot of stuff. They aren't "official", they're all amateur, but they're lovingly crafted with your entertainment in mind. There are links to a bunch of them on

    Maybe a slashdotter or two will find somebody new whose music speaks to them.
  • sounds nice, but... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tps12 ( 105590 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:43PM (#4645682) Homepage Journal
    I had to smile as I read this, because it sounded exactly like I did a few years ago. I decided to try and "discover" some obscure bands that were better than the tripe being played on the radio.

    It's the conventional wisdom that we hear so much and that we'd all like to believe--mainstream, big-label music sucks, and all the interesting stuff is being done by small, independent artists--but the fact is that it just isn't true. Independent artists tend to be extremely lo-fi, very unpolished, and more often than not, just plain unoriginal. You definitely can't dance to it. Yes, a lot of mainstream music is shit. But that doesn't mean that everything else is worth hearing. There is a small handful of independent artists who have created enough of a following to find success without losing their artistic integrity, but 99% of them are just the folks who couldn't cut it. The music just isn't there.

    Fortunately, we do have big-label artists worth hearing. Eminem is always perceptive and interesting, and Tori Amos is dependably good. Most big music stores let you listen to CDs before you buy, so just head over to the New Releases and poke around until you find that happy medium: a big-name, mainstream musician that you like.
    • by fishbowl ( 7759 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:50PM (#4645743)
      You saying you can dance to Tori Amos?

      That's something I'd love to see.

    • by innerFire ( 1016 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:54PM (#4645785) Homepage

      Independent artists tend to be extremely lo-fi, very unpolished, and more often than not, just plain unoriginal.

      Meshuggah, Throwing Muses/Kristin Hersh, King Crimson, Ornette Coleman, Ani Difranco, Dead Kennedys...

      • Which part... (Score:3, Informative)

        by tswinzig ( 210999 )
        ... of "tend to be" don't you understand?

        He didn't say they ALL fit that bill, just most. I tend to agree. There are some diamonds out there, though.

        One of my favorite independent bands that really deserves to be picked up is Virgos []. They rock, they sound like a well-financed band, yet they have a unique sound, mostly thanks to the lead singer -- Brett Hestla (touring bassist for Creed, and producer of many CD's).

        I'm trying to think of what I would compare them to, but I can't really come up with a good comparison... check 'em out.
      • King Crimson? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by tkrotchko ( 124118 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @07:27PM (#4646557) Homepage
        They were very much a big label act when they came out in '69 with "In the Court of the Crimson King" on A&M Records (I think). Greg Palmer and Peter Fripp hit the big time with this album. Ian McDonald and Sinfield seemed to become minor celebrities.

        Without the big label, you wouldn't heard of these guys.

        But back then, the labels were a little more open to experiment with their acts. Nowadays, the artists tend to be polished and corporate. The acts don't seem to *grow*. They're hip this year and then they disappear.

        Maybe that's the problem. It seems back then, an artist didn't have to go platinum every time they put out a record. Today, poor old Brittany's 2nd album didn't do as well as the first (how could it?), and now she's washed up before she's old enough to drink.

        Personally, I blame MTV, but I don't think most people know what that means anymore.
    • If you want the quality without going to the mainstream, you'd be best sticking to some of the leading lights of the indie scene. Bands such as Built to Spill, Modest Mouse, Belle and Sebastian, Bright Eyes, The Faint, Flaming Lips, Interpol.. the list goes on. These bands all produce quality, innovative music on an independant budget and belong to independant labels.

      There are a few diamonds in the rough of obscurity, but around 75% of the time, those bands are obscure because they're rubbish. The indie scene is built on word of mouth - if a band is good, they get a buzz. If nobody's talking about a certain band, most of the time they're either too new or just plain unremarkable.
    • The agency problem (Score:5, Insightful)

      by czarneki ( 622927 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @06:01PM (#4645837)
      One of the functions that big media companies serve is to act as the consumers' agents in discovering good talented artists for them. In theory it's more efficient for consumers to pay the media companies a fee so that consumers do not need to spend the time, energy, money required to discover talent themselves (same theory with book publishers). Very few people can afford to sift through all those indie bands to find the few gems in all that trash. I think that's what you are getting at here.

      Of course media companies, as agents, try to extract as much rent as possible from their principals -- the consumers. They try to shape our tastes to easily, cheaply copied versions of artists they know consumers already like. They try to extract as much as possible out of their existing set of artists and invest as little as possible in discovering new talent. This is just the typical kind of agency cost you have in any principal-agent relationship.

      If the market were properly competitive, with a sufficient number of media companies all competing hard with each other for the attention/money of the consumers, then we'd have an optimal balance of filtering and discovering done by the media companies, and consumers would have good, reasonably priced music from interesting artists satisfying all kinds of tastes without having to invest in discovery for themselves. The problem is that I think we have a few media companies that are too large, so that the agency problem is a big deal. The media companies can afford to shirk and persist in being complacent and feed us recycled garbage over and over again simply because there are so few of them and they dominate distribution.

      If we really want to solve the problem, a site offering lots of free indie music will not do the job. We need to find agents as alternatives to the media companies who can perform this filtering function and discover good talent for the consumers who can't afford to do the search themselves. That requires a trust relationship to be built up between the agents and the consumers (so we'll respect their choices), and a pay structure to provide incentive, and sufficient competition to keep the agents honest. I think that's a much harder problem and one that may not be solved by technological means alone.

      • by richieb ( 3277 )
        One of the functions that big media companies serve is to act as the consumers' agents in discovering good talented artists for them. In theory it's more efficient for consumers to pay the media companies a fee so that consumers do not need to spend the time, energy, money required to discover talent themselves

        But what about some colaborative filtering , P2P system? Imagine hooking it up with Gnutella so that you can not only download music, but add in your ratings.

        Then groups of people with simlar taste find the good stuff they all like.

        This sort of happens with your friends, and via USENET groups. I'm much more likely to listen to a recomendation of a fellow news group reader, than a commercial. Of course the stuff I listen to(jazz guitar for example) is hardly ever heard on the radio or MTV....

        • by renard ( 94190 )
          But what about some collaborative filtering P2P system? Imagine hooking it up with Gnutella so that you can not only download music, but add in your ratings.

          This idea is right on, imho. Gnutella and its progeny [] need to do a lot more to enable collaborative filtering and ratings - of media and nodes, as well as groups and producers.

          P2P could be so much more than efficient ''pr0n & britney'' distribution... more even than the ''universal digital library'' that first Napster and now Kazaa have promised... but it has to get much smarter before that will happen. I feel like Freenet [], by tackling the much more difficult problem of anonymous p2p, has been confronting these issues for longer, and by implementing such "smarter network" features may gain a leg up on the competition (and the last shall be first)... I don't know why the commercial Gnutella folks [] aren't setting the pace in this area (instead of bulking up on, no kidding, their chat and music capabilities), but really, they're not.


      • (Score:3, Interesting)

        by raehl ( 609729 )
        What if you had a streamed version of a song that people could listen to and rate, coupled with a hi-fi version people could buy?

        Track songs based on ratings and sales. Your agent is the market - if a buncha people are buying a song, (or at least listening through the whole thing and rating it well) it must be good.

        That's the real inefficiency in the record company - they invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in developing "talent", then see if the market agrees. Problem is the market rarely agrees, so the few successes have to support the numerous failures. You pay $18 for a good CD because of the 100's of crappy CDs sitting next to it that no one is buying.

        And yes, I did just fork over my $9 to GoDaddy for the domain name. ;)
    • by nate1138 ( 325593 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @06:04PM (#4645869)
      I think you are kind of missing the point. The person who posted this didn't say that they were looking for higher quality music. They said they were looking for independent music. Big difference. I for one am willing to take the time to ferret out the 2% of local bands that are worth a shit and listen to them. They certainly can't be any less original than the Nirvana ripoffs and Britney clones that the labels flood the airwaves with. And as far as listening before you buy, that's what is for, or just trek down to your localally owned shop. If they don't suck they will have plenty of local/regional bands to check out. Speaking of good local bands, if you live in the Southeast, check out The Avery Ellis Exhibits []. Very cool stuff and completely label free.

    • by startled ( 144833 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @06:55PM (#4646330)
      What you say might sound convincing if I didn't hear hundreds of new, quality, original songs by lots of small-time bands every month.

      I listen to a couple good college stations in my area (college stations vary, of course-- some are horrible): KFJC 89.7 and KZSU 90.1 in the Bay Area. The DJs are passionate about the music they listen to, and most of them tend to play really, really good music that you'll never hear on a mainstream station.

      Can't dance to it? Bullshit-- local DJs come down and spin all sorts of supremely danceable tracks several times a week. Extremely lo-fi? Unpolished? Hardly-- lots of these bands have been around for a while, and use some pretty solid studios to record in. This isn't the straight-ahead indie garage rock your pappy used to listen to.

      The truth of the matter is that mainstream radio today is so narrow, there's a huge range of artists that don't get any major play (and many not on major labels) that have talent, experience, and dedication. In addition to the totally indie artists, there's all the other great music that doesn't get much play here-- international stuff, old stuff, etc.. Since those types don't get any mainstream radio play, the owners might be willing to allow free webcast of it just to get interest back. Hell, when's the last time you heard your local station playing Sun Ra?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:43PM (#4645685)
    But what people want is a locals only site that streams, guess what, the music from free local bands only. Not just for your community but local bands from all over the US (and the world).

    You can't have it both ways. Local bands, or somewhere else's local band? Every band is local somewhere.

    At any rate, had for years - and I presume they still have - charts and artist lists sorted by region, so that you can just listen to "local" bands. They already tried exactly what you're talking about.

    We need a site that collects these bands and we need a streamer that plays them. No CARP royalty problems since these bands are unsigned and own the music themselves. Make it so that the artists can hopefully sell their own CD's or single songs from the same site.

    Um, for years. Have you even looked at it?

    The big guys go down because they can't compete with free, better than great music on the web with a low cost distribution. So, where is this utopia?

    Um, did you cut and paste that from's prospectus from a few years back? It's all been said (and done) before. And look where it got them, and their share price.

    Oh! And dump the necessary registration required to listen (are you listening

    Sheesh, just make up a fake email address and you're done in 10 seconds.

    I'm sorry, but I fail to see how this ill-informed "idea" made it to slashdot.

  • Epitonic (Score:3, Informative)

    by Over_and_Done ( 536751 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:43PM (#4645687)
    Epitonic [] does this, they are free, have a portable music box that you can listen to from anywhere and lots of streaming stations that cater to any musical taste. And, most of the stuff is indie, as the big artists are probably not even allowed to use the service even if they wanted to.
  •! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Spaceman40 ( 565797 ) <(gro.mca) (ta) (sknilb)> on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:44PM (#4645689) Homepage Journal
    This utopia exists.

    It is called besonic [].

    It has been online for over two or three years (previously known as Riffage), and has a gigantic list of music online for free, as well as albums available for download from thousands (believe me, there are a lot) of bands from all over the world.

    The great part about besonic is that just to be an Artist is free (you can post your own music completely free, charge euros - 'cause that's their currency - for albums, everything.) - the only thing that costs is the albums (that can also be sent in cd form to your home address) and a full artist service, with a custom web site and everything.

    Can't believe nobody's heard of it here. Then again, I'm big on music and recording and everything...

    • MyAss (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wytcld ( 179112 )
      Any site that has a tab called MySonic or MyAnythingelse sure won't get MyTime or MyBusiness.
  • by gpinzone ( 531794 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:44PM (#4645695) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, sounds great. You just left one part out. Who's gonna pay for all this? The bandwidth alone is going to be astronomical.

    There were a bunch of dot-bombs with this idea, and they all burned through their funding without ever having a hope of turning a profit.

    How am I going to know if I like a band's music enough to buy the whole CD? I gotta download the songs and listen them to a while before I'm gonna be willing to plunk down my hard earned cash and buy their product. If they're gonna give their music away, they just need to use the existing P2P networks, not create a new one.
  • by Paradox !-) ( 51314 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:45PM (#4645699) Homepage
    You could even do the site in a Slashdot format, with music being modded up and down by people with evaluated credit to do so.

    If you had the kind of preference tracking software that Amazon uses, (people who listen to this band often listen to that band too, suggest I listen to that band when I listen to this band) you could probably quickly weed the crummy from the cool.

    You could host the servers in Sealand (see

    And I think there is a LOT more good independent music out there than people realize. I recently was turned onto MuchMusic by a friend of mine and heard no less than four cool bands I had never heard of before within the first hour of listening.

    Evan !-)
  • by Monkelectric ( 546685 ) <> on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:45PM (#4645700) used to be a panacea for artists ... they used to mail me things like tote bags and cds to "remind" me to post more songs. Then somewhere along the line, started thinking of their artists as their customers. should have been helping me sell my music to other people, instead they were busy sending me emails about Nsync and Brittany Spears. You also were able to get royalty monies from if your songs were downloaded often. Now you have to pay 20$ a month to be eligible for royalties (and in fact, to be eligible for any level of service from them) - which basically means small artists are subsiding the royalty payments of well known artists, especially as the royalty rates are in the fraction of a cent range.
  • As I remarked before, a couple of years ago Courtney Love gave a speech [] outlining what it would be needed to break the evil music cartel:
    Somewhere along the way, record companies figured out that it's a lot more profitable to control the distribution system than it is to nurture artists. And since the companies didn't have any real competition, artists had no other place to go. Record companies controlled the promotion and marketing; only they had the ability to get lots of radio play, and get records into all the big chain store. That power put them above both the artists and the audience. They own the plantation.

    What is needed is a new distribution system that even a midly sucessful artist can create. Courtney Love cried out for VCs to step in and create it. So far no takers, but there is money to be made for the artist and for the distributor; and there is a lot to be gained from the consumer standpoint as well: lower prices and greater selection.

    It would not take too much money to set-up a great website where you can buy tracks for a dollar or two; it would take more money to provide indie bands with a recording studio and the experienced people for mastering, mixing, etc. but you could make money off the indie band recordings and you could rent studio time for other purposes.

    The only trouble is getting enough artists to come your way. I'm sure if any of the VCs out there paid Courtney a call, we could very well be on our way to a new distribution system.

  • IUMA (Score:5, Informative)

    by dirvish ( 574948 ) <dirvish&foundnews,com> on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:46PM (#4645711) Homepage Journal
    IUMA [] is really great. Some of the artists are still pretty rough but there are some real gems in there. They have a great selection and info about the bands. Independent music is the way to go. These are cutting edge artists that will shape what will be mainstream in the future.

    One cool thing is that I have been able to use music from IUMA soundtracks in my own video projects [] without worrying that someone will get pissed and sue me.
    • I second the mention of IUMA. It is one of the few websites that has been on the internet "Since the Beginning" (tm)... I even remember when they used the MP1 and MP2 formats prior to the creation of MP3 (no joke!)...
    • Re:IUMA (Score:3, Funny)

      by dubiousmike ( 558126 )
      One cool thing is that I have been able to use music from IUMA soundtracks in my own video projects [] without worrying that someone will get pissed and sue me.


      this is an outrage. someone ought to create an organization for recording artists to watch out for their rights. this group would charge a fee to buy the artisit's music, passing it on after removing their fee. they could make sure that artist's music wasnt used in an improper manner, like making copies for your friends or on an unsecured device for that matter...

      hey...wait a sec...


  • by rsmah ( 518909 ) <rmah@pob o x . c o m~> on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:47PM (#4645713)
    But what people want is a locals only site that streams, guess what, the music from free local bands only.

    That's just too damn funny. Two points: One, you are suffering from intellectural myopia. Just because that's what YOU want doesn't mean that's "what people want". If people wanted local bands they would go to their shows and buy their records more.

    Point two, just how would a free (my assumption) site that streamed "local" music to the global masses pay for all the hardware, bandwidth, software, etc. necessary to do so effectively? Some possible answers are:

    Advertising? The primary target advertisers would be media firms who would obviouslly not want to help such an effort. Kil that idea.

    Share of CD sales? When a band gets popular, guess what, they'll jump to a major label with a semi-reasonable contract (reasonable because the band has already proven they can sell albums). Thus we're starved of revenues again.

    Share of promo item sales? Potentially lucritive, but you've got to deal with a whole raft of fullfilment and billing problems. In short, costs will rise dramatically and you need a real company to do this.

    Donations? Bwhahahaha

    Finally, you do know this was exactly's dream, don't you?


  • The big advantage with a band getting signed by a Big 5 label is that get's the band radio airplay. And the radio is what tells us what's good or not (even though there's a lot of not-so-good stuff on mainstream radio, theres a bunch more horrible stuff out there in inde land, mixed in with a small amount of good). So you've got the issue of investing a lot of time to find stuff you like when dealing with the non mainstream.

    Another issue that small bands face is the psycological effect of "what everyone's listening to". You take a particular song, and tell the average listener it's from a backyard/garage band. They won't like it near as much as if they hear it from a radio dj, promoting it as being from the "hottest new group". Same song, two different reactions.

  • back in the day (a whopping 5 years ago) my hometown had quite a few bands, one could even call it a small scene. No label, major or indie, wanted a bunch of punks from the suburbs of philly on their label. so the kids recorded thier own stuff, created record distros for themselves and other likeminded kids, and went to town. they didnt blow up, but they were heard. I don't think the exposition of new bands can be done with a business model, it takes time and perseverence from the musicians to promote themselves. the internet just helps them accomplish this, rather than it being the only method of release
  • to live shows by real local bands?

    You can find the most wonderful music, plus you can normally buy a tape or cd from the band directly and completely cut out the middle man......
  • Return of the DJ's (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Quill_28 ( 553921 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:50PM (#4645741) Journal
    Its seems nowadays that DJ's have to be entertaining to be popular. Since they all seem to play the same music(within the genre).
    What I would like to see is DJ's picking there own music, and gaining an audience because folks liked their choice in music.
    For instance, I really like country story songs(don't laugh), but I have a hard time finding them. If there was a DJ was on between 11:00 - 2:00 who played these types of songs(old and brand new) I would be encouraged to listen or tape, otherwise I only listen to the radio in the car.
    This would give small bands/singers a chance to be heard and people wouldn't have to work so hard to find them. Also the record companies would lose power(I think). It seems it would be a win-win for consumers, bands, and possibly radio stations. Which means it probably won't happen.
    What do ya think?
  • by cyber_rigger ( 527103 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:51PM (#4645752) Homepage Journal
    Sell collector's stuff, concerts, hand autographed CDs, etc.

    Be creative. Brand the bands name. Sell the name not the music. Kids pay for what they think is cool fashion.
  • My company makes Emergent Music [], whose purpose is to address this problem...
  • Is that most indie bands haven't signed recording contracts because they haven't been offered recording contracts. As soon as the RIAA comes knocking, they're eager to sign up. This causes problems for any service that tries to deal exclusively with unsigned material.

    What was once free of RIAA taint becomes tainted the minute the contract is signed. The RIAA specifically signs bands and buys labels for the express purpose of making it obnoxiously hard to not deal with the RIAA.
  • your answer (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:51PM (#4645757) Homepage
    it's not a radio stream per-se...

    but sucks... is purely inde bands. and is my only source for music anymore.. (bought 20 CD's from their artists this past 4 months, compared to the 2 uncle tupleo RIAA cd's I bought during that time frame...)

  • Hmm, [] is owned by Vivendi Universal []. I wonder if this is in their best interest.
  • by RobotRunAmok ( 595286 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:53PM (#4645773)
    Or worse yet, "Fan-Fic."

    Actually, while I appreciate all the nobility and elegance inherent in the "Bring the Music to the People" movement, I've got, like, zero interest in hearing the local bands from Podunk. When they're good enough to get booked in and play the clubs in NYC and LA, they'll have my attention.

    A recording industry contract was certainly no guarantee of quality, but I do want to see the bar raised a little higher than a band's mere capacity to digitize a song and get it onto a website.

    Or, if all this local music DOES get on the web, maybe there's an opening for some kind of meta-filter site that will keep me from having to sift my way through the latest from NeedleDick & the Buttfuckers in search of a musical nugget worth my time.

    Sorry. You actively collect music for over 30 years, you get a little cynical...
  • by foqn1bo ( 519064 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:54PM (#4645776)

    I've been working on an initiative to devise an alternative to the traditional means of promoting music and other media. It's been partially inspired by GNU and various other software licenses. The general point to it would be that I, as an artist, maintain the copyright and composer rights to the material while freely licensing the (re)packaging and (re)distribution to anyone who wishes to market and sell it. This license would have no restrictions, other than the fact that a company/individual could not claim legal rights over the work, or change its content in any perceptable way. It may sound rediculous, but I think something like this would have a number of benefits to the artist:

    (1)The most difficult part of being an independent artist is promotion, and this could theoretically take care of itself
    (2)You could still sell the work yourself, on your own terms, even if a major label had decided to run with it(not much to lose, since there are no contracts in this paradigm). You could always offer a lower price than those in, say, the Wherehouse, which would still net you more profit than the royalties afforded you in a RIAA contract.

    Essentially this would allow an artist the increased potential to be marketed and recognized at a national or international level without giving up any of the rights and control over work. And all parties involved could still make a substantial amount of money.

    You guys tell me what is? (Peoples is Peoples. Is singing, is dancing)
  • They were acquired [] last year by Vivende Universal, a very large media company. Don't expect them to go rocking the record industry's boat.

    There have even been allegations [] of dropping popular artists on behalf of its parent company.
  • by bovilexics ( 572096 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:54PM (#4645779) Homepage

    This is a concept that I have seen used in at least on area of music, synthpop, of which I am a big fan. There is a label company out there called A Different Drum [ ] that deals specifically with synthpop (electronica, etc.) bands and helps to promote that type of music.

    Here is some information off of their web site about who they are?


      A Different Drum is a business with several functions. First, it is an online synthpop music store where fans of the genre can find more of the music they love from the independent and import markets. Second, it is a synthpop music label that gathers talented bands from around the world to support their efforts in creating and releasing more of their quality music in the market. Third, A Different Drum is a wholesale distributor which sells synthpop music to other stores and that has ongoing trade with similar distributors and stores overseas.

      All these functions of A Different Drum combine to create a single, strong home for synthpop in America and a support for synthetic pop artists and fans everywhere.

    While this company doesn't offer streaming it has the benefit of joining many artists from a single style of music and gives them quite a bit of exposure from one common place. This also allows the label to produce remix and sample albums from those looking to get an overview of a bunch of the artists on a single album.

    I have bought many albums from this company and have received both competitve prices and great customer service. This has also been a successful way to circumvent the larger record companies and that is a big plus as well - kinda necessary anyhow since the big companies don't support the type of music I prefer.

    typical disclaimer - no I am not in any way affiliated with this company, just a happy customer

  • How do I find bands? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by EccentricAnomaly ( 451326 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:54PM (#4645781) Homepage has a lot of bands in various levels of quality. How do I find one that I like? Sure CowboyNeal could make a site with his picks, but what if I don't like his kind of music.

    I think the problem of matching a band with an audience that likes their music is the key problem for internet music distribution to solve. If a band that 99% of the people on the net hate can reach the 1% of people that likes their music, they can still be a success. And this 1% of people will be very happy to finally find a band that they like.

    So far my strategy for find music that I like is to find a local band that I like, then do a google search for any positive reviews for the band I already like... then I look and I see what else the reviewer recommends and go try their music out. This has let me find a few great bands that will probably never get played on the radio: (Breech [], OO-Soul [], and Powder []) This works, but it takes a long time to find new music.

    I'd love to have a site where I can easily find more bands and buy their mp3's to download directly into my iTunes. And maybe even have their shows added to my iCal. (I wish my .Mac subscription would give me a service like this).

  • I seem to recall that Napster tried something like this when they were trying to prove that their software was more general-purpose than trading copyrighted files. They didn't have too much success with that business model. I don't think any centralized scheme would work without a revenue stream that relied on selling bits.
  • How about a co-op record label that is owned and operated by the artists, who retain rights to their work, collect and distribute their own royalties, manage their own management team, are independent of the RIAA, and allow people/customers to do what they want with the purchased music. This would make the RIAA and the record labels it represents irrelevant. Yes?
  • Ah, the utopia expressed in that old Coke commercial rears its head here.

    Free as in they have not sold their souls (not to mention music rights) away to the devils of the music industry.

    It seems those "devils" have made rich people of a number of musicians. If those musicians aren't trying to change the system, why are you? Translation: it can't be that bad if the old hands (Stones, Petty, that folk chick that had an article in USA Today, heck, even McCartney) haven't risen up and thrown off the shackles of the master's contract. I'm quite sure that as onerous as the contracts may be, not a single one says "for life".
  • ...who have made success (in money sense too) only by having their music downloadable. I think the music industry will follow, when they realize it's still the same business undependant of the media used to deliver the goods. (some) music will never be free, it's still a profession - but restricting the used media, size and price of the product is the thing that we should work on. So, maybe next time when you see your favorite artist offering something over internet you should actually buy it and not just talk. (I myself am a dinosaur and like fiddling with LPs and CDs - having a concrete item is part of the music for me :)
  • To blockquoth the article:
    So, where is this utopia? Oh! And dump the necessary registration required to listen (are you listening"

    Sorry, but that's the most retarded thing I've ever heard. Is supposed to be a non-profit org?
    They are berely keeping afloat. Great, lets give away the bandwidth, promotion, ads, everything for free. At the end of the quarter some magic stock market fairy will bump the stock value up and we'll all live happily ever after.

    Sorry pal. It doesn't work that way.
  • by BitHive ( 578094 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @05:56PM (#4645802) Homepage
    If you live near a smaller liberal arts college that operates a student radio station, give that a try. Chances are good that you'll be exposed to a lot of music you wouldn't have heard otherwise.
  • Seattle's Scene (Score:2, Informative)

    by anon7864 ( 171608 )
    We have on of the best independant music stations here in Seattle. KEXP []

    It originated in 1972 at the University of Washington. It is now in a partnership with the Experience Music Project, aka Paul Allen.

    From their site:
    "KEXP regularly programs an innovative, eclectic mix of alternative rock, hip hop, electronic, roots & blues, world & reggae, jazz, and more.

    The station also offers a number of specialty shows that focus on particular styles of music, along with some public affairs programming on weekend mornings."

    This isn't exactly what you are looking for, but it comes close. They have free player streaming formats, Real, Windows, MP3, and an extra bonus. Uncompressed audio at 1.4MBit/sec. They were the first station in the world to do this.

    They have archived live performances, archived specialty shows, and complete real-time playlists.

    Here is their current variety Top10:
    Oct 28 - Nov 3, 2002
    Artist- Title (Record Company)
    1. Sigur Ros - ( ) (MCA)
    2. Pete Krebs & the Gossamer Wings - I Know It By Heart (Cavity Search)
    3. Jurassic 5 - Power in Numbers (Interscope)
    4. Beck - Sea Change (DGC)
    5. The Streets - Original Pirate Material (Vice)
    6. Badly Drawn Boy - Have You Fed the Fish? (ARTISTdirect)
    7. Mr. Lif - I Phantom (Definitive Jux)
    8. Voyager One - Monster Zero (Loveless)
    9. Royksopp - Melody A.M. (Astralwerks)
    10. Doug Martsch - Now You Know (Warner Bros)

    They do not have the ability for you to directly purchase the CD or download the song. I think the businees overhead to do this just doesn't make sense for a listener supported radio station.


  • I don't see a lack of sites for independent artists to post their songs or CDs. Heck, if you're an indy band you can sell your CD at if you want to. As others have mentioned, there is IUMA, and others. Finding indie bands is easier than ever.

    The problem, as I see it, is how do you wade through it all? I don't have an infinite amount of time and, frankly, some indy bands are that way because they suck. I'd say most indy bands fall into that category, actually. I have found a lot of indy bands at (and even signed, bigger-in-Europe-than-they-are-here (Blind Guardian, Lacuna Coil)) but it took a lot of time and effort to separate the wheat from the chaff and it's not something I can do often.

    What I'd like is a good music recommendation engines at these sites. The one at is pretty good. The one at sucks ass. It used to be that we had radio to help with this (yes, I'm old enough to have listened to radio when it didn't suck). Other than, are there any good recommendation engines out there?

  • I have had an idea to create such a service, however in the current economy it has been extrememly hard to find someone willing to put up the cash to make it happen....

    The commerce side is easy, the business model is dead simple in that its profit sharing, the missing peice is start up cost. The only way to get music to be heard is to play it...and that takes badwidth over the internet...practically the only part of the whole thing that can't be done for free...shoutcasting a decent stream takes 56kb/s per cast that to more than a handful of listeners takes serious bandwidth...and serious bandwidth costs serious money...
    So if anyone has say $10,000 a month for bandwidth(until the breakeven point can be reached, who knows when that will be), I can get this off the ground with a few additional resources...

    Actually its more like:
    $10,000 a month in bandwidth
    $20,000 a month in administrative(paychecks, rent,co-location fees, etc)
    +whatever it costs on a payment plan for an EMC symmetrix to store all the music.
  • My favorite (Score:2, Interesting)

    by El ( 94934 )
    Go to [] to check out a really good singer/songwriter who refuses to sell her soul to the record company. This site also has _lots_ of links to other musicians in the SF bay area, if her music doesn't float your boat. Oh, and buy her CD, please!
  • I think we should adopt a monarchic system where the only performers are jesters, bards, and minstrels, who play at the behest of the king or are summarily beheaded.
  • by ( 601843 ) <> on Monday November 11, 2002 @06:02PM (#4645853) Homepage Journal
    I'ved posted before about our label LOCA RECORDS [] and the fact that we are releasing records on an Open Source license that gives the listener the right to copy the music and we are not just doing it because we are have rubbish bands! The proof???



    Ok that's in french so maybe WARD INTERVIEW [] would be better? (Scroll down for English)

    Or hey just visit our site []

    Feel free to browse and if you have ideas for how we *could* place our music on the web cheaply and easily then please please let us know!! All help credited and appreciated!

    Oh and feel free to buy a nice t-shirt.. they keep us releasing... ;-)

  • by DennisZeMenace ( 131127 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @06:05PM (#4645879) Homepage
    Just to show that there's something fundamentally wrong with the way the music industry works now, let's make an analogy between the music industry and the startup Venture Capitalist business. I think this analogy makes sense because that's precisely one of the roles the record labels are supposed to fill: that of a producer. People come to you with (business plans/demo tapes), and you invest money in those you like.

    So, if your VC was like a record label :

    - The VC would own 99% of the stock of the company

    - The VC would fill all the roles in the startup company, except for the actual product engineering (i.e. music writing/recording). The VC acts as CEO, VP of bizdev, VP of marketing and VP of sales.

    - The VC determines at what price your 'product' sell, when and where, if ever.

    - You can never get additional funding from any other investors for like, seven years.

    - The VC has the right to call it quits at any time.

    - You may no quit. Ever. If you do, consider a career change.

    Hmm, don't like the conditions. Well, you can't just keep driving up Sand Hill Road. All the contracts are the same!

  • by yerricde ( 125198 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @06:08PM (#4645918) Homepage Journal

    No CARP royalty problems since these bands are unsigned and own the music themselves.


    I know how to play a few instruments, I know some music theory, and I want to write some music, record it, and put it on the Internet, but I've run into one slight problem: How is it possible to write original music, when it's so hard to avoid accidentally re-inventing something you've heard ten years ago and losing a lawsuit []? Especially when a large music publisher can take you down with just four notes []?

  • by Rimbo ( 139781 ) <> on Monday November 11, 2002 @06:11PM (#4645942) Homepage Journal
    I believe an effective Peer-to-Peer networking technology would be much better than any site.

    The problem with sites is that sites have to be paid for. Worse, the more effective a site is at getting its message out, the more expensive it is to maintain. More hits generally means more headaches.

    Peer-to-peer networks have proven their ability to share popular music efficiently. They've also proven that they generate sales by encouraging people to download and listen to bands whose songs they otherwise might not have heard.

    The one element that's missing in a P2P network, that's a big part of what makes a site like valuable, is the ability for listeners to rank and categorize music they've heard, to allow others to get recommendations.

    This would be the application that would benefit artists the most, because -- for one thing -- you wouldn't have to just be limited to your own local talent. You could listen to ANYONE's unsigned talent. You could get peer recommendations. And the like. And there's no centralized server to be bought out and controlled by the RIAA. Rankings can remove the effect of poorly-encoded MP3's, and falsely made MP3's.

    I hate to answer the question with another question, but I'm finished with monolithic sites; even my friend who is one of the Top 50 bands on doesn't make nearly enough money to even quit his day job; if a site can't help the successful musicians, how can it help lesser-known bands?

    So the question is -- can P2P file-sharing be a better way, and if so, how?
  • Cdbaby... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Irvu ( 248207 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @06:14PM (#4645963)
    Cdbaby [] isn't a bad choice I hear. They focus on international distribution of indie bands not the localized system that the post is discusssing but they are definitely more amenable to fans than the RIAA.
  • Okay. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jcsehak ( 559709 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @06:15PM (#4645972) Homepage
    My site [] offers my own music for free, along with the source. I also will provide links to anyone else making open-source music, but most musicians seem to be reluctant to give away their seperate tracks. The EFF [] lists all the music that anyone is releasing under their Open Audio License. This is partly what you're asking for, except that if you're under another license (like my Open Source Music License), or just simply giving away downloads, they won't list you. I can't seem to find the links page now; maybe they took it down?

    The problem with (one of them anyway) is that they host the music, so they have to make some money somehow to offset the bandwidth costs. A site that linked to the bands' websites could be cheap and simple and maybe offset the hosting costs through ad or membership revenue (like /. does). The other benefit to this is that bands with sites are generally more dedicated, and the overall quality of the music might be better.

    What would make this perfect though is some kind of rating system, maybe like Amazon's. Listeners could rate albums (or songs), so someone just visiting the site would have a better chance of finding something they really liked.

    Well, hell. I'm not one to sit around whining. Send me (jcsehakatyahoodotcom), or reply to this post with, links of bands you like that let people download at least one complete album of theirs for free. It's gotta be at least a complete album because averyone and their mother gives away sample songs; look how many free downloads there are on Amazon. Include a short description of their style. I'll make a page that lists it all (in addition to open-source bands), and I'll see what I can do about making a rating system. Any help on that would be appreciated. Or just respond to this post saying it's a bad idea or someone else is already doing it and I shouldn't bother.
  • winamp playlists (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dasuridai ( 606603 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @06:24PM (#4646045)
    I really thought that winamp was on to something when they made it easy to publish playlists onto a website that could be viewed by everyone. What was missing was a reasonable way to listen to these playlists, besides going out and trying to download all of the songs. I can think of no better way to discover new music than to find some other individuals who have similar tastes and see what they have found.
  • Gift economy? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @06:25PM (#4646058)
    I usually shill for the gift economy, so I'll do so again here.

    Here's a statement for you: In my humble opinion micropayments are the way forward.

    Why? Firstly, music is now effectively a post-scarcity commodity. That means it has a replication cost of zero, which also means it's effectively impossible to charge for it. Oops, that's the RIAAs business model down the tubes, hence the fact that they are trying to reintroduce scarcity back into music with DRM.

    If we assume they fail however (and economics says they will) then what comes next? I say the ability to send small amounts of money easily and quickly to artists. I hear new music all the time, mostly off the radio. When I hear a track, I don't want to have to track down the album or (more often, for trance) single and buy it on CD, wait for the CD to arrive and then rip it, when I can just press a button and have it available right there and then. I want to be able to do this, but I also want those artists to be rewarded so they continue to make kickass tracks.

    If I can send a few euros to my favourite artists, I'm happy. But it's got to be easy. Let's address a few common complaints against this system:

    1) Nobody will pay. - there will be a balance between people who pay and people who don't. The system itself will find this equilibrium. At first yeah, I expect some artists will croak because it's new and people don't understand that "you, yes YOU" have to pay up to let them continue. Once there have been a few high profile failures, people would get the idea. We pay with gifts to street performers because it's traditional and a part of our culture - hopefully music tipping would become the same.

    2) Artists could not make a living from it. I think they could. It depends on how long the system takes to scale up of course. To start with, perhaps artists could not make a living from it. It might take years, decades even! Look at free software. I think people, the majority of people, could be supported writing free software, by doing contract work (you want this feature, pay me and i'll write it for you) and variations. But Linux is not yet at the point where the market for that is big enough. It would be the same for music.

    3) It's not technically possible. No, not yet, that's why I'm working on Genio/PingID/SourceID/whatever-the-hell-it-is-toda y: at - digital identity is necessary to allow for low overhead financial transactions imho. It's the first step. Bandwidth is fairly simple, you can use p2p techniques or IP Multicast when it finally arrives to allieviate those issues. And of course such an economy would be decentralised anyway.

    4) Who will filter out the dross. As one poster (rightly) pointed out above, quite a lot of unsigned music is rubbish. The record companies do one thing, and that's choose the best of the independant artists. Yes, they manufacture artists as well, but my point is that we need a way of filtering the wheat from the chaff. My solution to this is the reviewer heirarchy - people review tracks that enter the system in their particular musical taste. Reviewers on the next tier up read those reviews, choose the most promising tracks, and choose them, then reviewers above them do the same etc, and you end up with the top 40 of the gift economy.

    I think it can work. But I don't have time to start, and it would take years to build it up. But now surely must be the right moment in history to attempt it.

  • by cmason ( 53054 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @06:43PM (#4646216) Homepage
    The value that major labels provide is simple: exposure. They have the ears: yours. The problem with this is it's cyclical: no one wants to buy CDs from a band nobody's heard of, the only way a band can get heard of is to get radio play, no unheard of band gets radio play.

    I would pay good money for a service that consistently recommended decent new music. I'm willing to set the bar fairly low too. It seems like all the services (remember firefly? the original musicnet that mailed out CDs? I can't even find links for these people anymore) that purported to do this went out of business before I could even try to give them money. Contrast this with the experience which, although you may find great stuff, it's a ton of work to do. This is an inherently personal service and trust has a lot to do with it.

    There are a few record companies out there, such as Aware Records [] (John Mayer, Train), and Windham Hill [] that consistently produce good new music I like, such that I'm willing bet on their compilation CDs. There are a few radio stations (like 105.9 the X []) that have decent new music shows I'm willing to listen to.

    The bottom line is that something like this has got to happen but it's a tricky problem and no one has yet found the right business model. Please, come up with one, I'll line up to send you money.

    • Re: Use Moderation (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jhouserizer ( 616566 )

      A very possible solution of the problem of filtering out the 'dross' would be to use moderation techniques much like we do here on slashdot.

      The "music distribution site" could allow users to post "reviews" and give point ratings to individual bands/songs. A fairly powerful mechanism for locating and suggesting music that you will probably like could be made by informing the site which bands you already know you like, and then you can be given "try this" selections based on bands that were given high ratings by users who also rated your selections high.

      You could try new genres of music by first listening to the highest rated stuff, and then filtering with options like "I agree with this reviewer, what else does this same reviewer recommend?"

      More powerful options would let you ignore ratings by reviewers that you disagree with - and/or even meta-moderate people's reviews.

      It shouldn't be too difficult to build the system in such a way that shows the preferences of "the masses", but also lets you see the music preferences of "like minded" persons.

      Eventually you could have associated with your profile a list of "music mentors" - users who's ratings you consider great, and who will act as your "peers" in suggesting new music.

      This seems like the ideal solution to me...

  • Washington Post (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sulli ( 195030 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @06:57PM (#4646347) Journal
    The Washington Post has an excellent mp3 section [] focusing on local bands. If you're a DC band you can Post your MP3s there. T&C seem pretty generous - you retain copyright, and just let WP distribute your songs. And anyone who has Chuck Brown [] available is worth doing business with, definitely.
  • by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <> on Monday November 11, 2002 @07:05PM (#4646413) Journal
    Geez - we have a radio section that hasn't been used since the 29th of June - why not use that as a place to link(/.) musicians and bands sites? I'm grasping at straws here, but doesn't everyone on /. listen to music?

    Why not use what we have here: 250,000 readers, 2 or 3 posters ;) and many countries and genres represented.

    We don't need to serve the mp3s themselves, just link to an exciting artist that isn't signed. (No new Madonna songs, IOW. She's already got enough exposure.)

    Perhaps have an artist interview once a month or more), music software reviews(mp3 and recording), some sort of voting on a /. top ten, whatever.

    As long as we don't have any mp3s here, there shouldn't be any bandwidth/legal problems.

    Of course - the flag icon still isn't fixed (even after I sent one in) so maybe this will fall on deaf ears. (Pun intended.)

  • by feelsinister ( 589721 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @07:06PM (#4646418)
    The Jamband/Grassroots scene is one viable alternative. The scene, which has its roots in bands such as the Grateful Dead [] and the Allman Brothers Band [www.allmanbrothersband], the jamband/grassroots scene is based on the principles of "tour lots, play well, allow tape trading".

    Bands like Phish [], Dave Matthews Band [] and John Mayer [] (three rather different artists) have become very popular primarily because of tape trading and putting on a good live show which varies night to night.

    Some sites of particular interest are Homegrown Music Network [] and Jambase [], the latter of which has a huge database of members interested in and willing to promote the bands it serves. Bands seeking to promote shows in certain cities pay Jambase to allow them access to all the members in certain zip codes, cities and states. These fans get promotional material to spread around their area, thus gaining more interest in the concert.

    Another great site is's etree archive [] which has full concerts of lots of bands (from big names such as Dave Matthews to the unknowns like the Motet) in lossless SHN format.

    Of course, the limitations of this scene is that it's basically all wrinkly old hippies noodling away on covers of Grateful Dead songs, but there are innovators such as the New Deal [] and Disco Biscuits [], who play live, improvised trance/breakbeat house. Or Howie Day [], a singer-songwriter playing Radiohead influenced songs using loops and samples to create a unique sound. OAR [] play (somewhat turgid) reggae-rock, and Illinois' Umphrey's McGee [] present us with an alternate universe of "What if Phish listened to Pink Floyd and Genesis rather than the Grateful Dead?". There's something for [mostly] everyone.
  • by cyberchondriac ( 456626 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @07:22PM (#4646526) Journal
    While the idea of distribution via the internet is certainly nothing new, there's a reason why it's experienced only mediocre success: promotion.
    That's the other half of the business that often gets overlooked, and yet it's the toughest nut to crack. The record companies have a stanglehold on the radio industry, with the exception of college or publicly funded stations. No one will buy your album if they don't even know you exist - this argument is one of the more powerful that the record execs will use against you, citing hundreds of thousands of dollars spent in advertising, promotional materials, and incentives to the broadcasting industry and record stores which litter our malls and plazas.
    The vast majority of music buying Americans (I can't speak for the rest of the world but I'll assume it's the same) only learn or hear of new music and new bands via the radio. Sure, those of us /.'ers with broadband can get our tunes fix via the 'net, but we'd represent an awfully small demographic.
    I'm not trying to say that the internet distribution model is without hope, I'm only trying to point out that it's going to be difficult to move away from the traditional one.
    One other reason the traditional model persists: a number of musicians still have their heads full of rockstar dreams. The visions of limosines, partying, girls, booze, drugs, and cash fuel their greed and they'll wind up selling their souls every time. Curious ethical question this poses, for who is truly to blame when someone sells their soul to the Devil for personal gain ? The Devil, or the seller ? I'd say both. For the few that actually hit the very top, the financial rewards are currently unmatched by any other music business model.
    Being a musician myself, my only goals are to finish the construction of my little home recording studio, master my DAW, burn a couple CDs of my original material, put 'em up on a website, and keep the publishing rights to myself. If I don't sell a thing, I don't really care - I just want to get my songs done before I die someday.
  • As a Musician (Score:3, Insightful)

    by crusher-1 ( 302790 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @07:26PM (#4646551)
    In reference to the Gift economy. His point about zero sum related to actually produce media is essentially correct. Let's quickly recap the old way of doing things, Ya know back when it was essentially vinyl disks called -- records. Now, remember that back then most of the "high" tech professional recording equipment was expensive and acually needed someone that understood how it worked and how to operate it. Hence the need for recording technicians. Recording and mastering a record became an art and this is most evident in the late 60's through the 70's. From Bob Dylan and the Beatles to Pink Floyd and Yes, etc...
    If you were a musicain you generally accepted the notion that in order to have both a quality of product and any hope of national exposure that you (and your band) had to get "signed" by a major label. The major labels would "front" the band the money to do such things as buy descent equipment, pay for a modicum of living expenses, and most importantly -- pay to have the studio time, the technicians, and master work produced (and remember that most major labels had all of this and more in-house). If it was donned by the Reps that the product had at least some potential then it went to press and a more lucrative contract was drawn up (but not necessarily). Mind you that most common contracts gave the band (or single musicain) about 2 to 3 points (as in percentage) for every thing that made a profit. This was common for new bands (if you became popular you of course were in a position to barter the percentage, especially at renewal time). Well, say your album goes gold and you sell 100K+ albums, this is where you profits are made, and the tours are made to pay back the expense of the studio, etc.. (e.g. I remember RUSH during the G under P tour - Dallas/Fortworth put them over the top at the tour halfway point= lots of extra profit). So, in order to get anywhere you absolutely needed the "major labels" to really get the push (though many small labels were a starting point - the big guys made it happen). Therefore, It was the RIAA's way or the highway.

    Fast foward to today. Technology such as can be bought at any descent music store and a descent computer with the right software and "who needs the major labels to produce a quality of product"? You've just save yourself a step and reduced you costs. But you still need marketing/advertising, distribution, and air time. Oops, back to the major label? Not anymore! Gee, this thing called the internet is great for people to get exposure. And hey I know a guy that builds "rad" websites! And the local recording studio will master and print/press CDs of about 1000 for X amount of money (which is considerably less then anything the Labels would offer you or lead you to believe even existed). So, now there's these web sites like, and and that will let us post/upload some of your stuff. And, they include a link to our website which tell's them how to get a (professional quality) CD of your music. Ya, sum slug will buy the CD and then copy the tracks to his/her download directory and then we possibly loss potential revenue. But alot of people are buying the CD as well and were making money --- Without The Need For the RIAA Machine! Now take into account some of the ideas posted in this forum and perhaps you might, just might come to the conclusion that I see. The RIAA is most definately worried about piracy, but more over they're really worried about being cut out, circumvented, displaced, blah, blah...

    So, how to cope with this? Make it impossible to play any media that doesn't have the right code/authorization embedding in it and then put this on the hardware side of all those devices that play any sort of media. Therefore any cdrom, DVD, etc... won't play if the authorization stuff isn't on the disk -- it's not authenticated and just spins down. Ya. this stuff prevents pirated ware but also forces the RIAA's "it's our way or the highway" paradigm on everyone. The musician, the consumer, the OEM's etc...

    This is to me what DRM is all about. Not protecting my rights as a musician or a music listener. But forcing me to adhere to a source and product that some corporation or conglomurate has decided is the only one I'm allowed to use.
    If my band sucks then the RIAA will decide, not the consumer, because the RIAA has everything figured out,... what I'll wear, what my personal bio will read like, how my hair looks, and the type of music I play. If I suck but have the right look the RIAA's machine will take care of that and I'm still a star. So much good music is obscured because the RIAA and it's label can't quite figure out which market category it fits into and I have had a few excellent musicains friends get signed and shelved (which is a way to get a band out of circulation - sign them and then do nothing - they die on the vine). I'm tired of the RIAA decide what I do and don't like, and the internet and all the present day technology makes it possible for the musician to connect directly with any potential audience -- which is exactly what the RIAA and the Major Labels don't want, otherwise they'll become obsolete and they know it!
  • Sources (Score:5, Informative)

    by Snork Asaurus ( 595692 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @07:39PM (#4646628) Journal
    Here are some places to look for indies and unsigned artists. I'd guess this to be a pool of about 2 million tunes (across ALL genres). All offer streams/previews, mostly in low bit-rate mp3, a few in (yech) real media: [] (biggest >1.5 million tunes, now owned by Universal Vivendi who, so far, haven't messed it up too much)

    IUMA [] (based in the USA, but international)

    Besonic [] (based in Germany, but international) [] (based in Germany, but international)

    Soundclick [] (based in the USA, but international)

    (Garageband [] based in the USA, but international)

    France mp3 [] (based in France)

    Vitaminic [] (free + pay - based in the USA, but international)

    Washington Post [] (yup, the newspaper)

    Online Rock [] (based in the USA, but international)

    Peoplesound [] based England Australia [] (not the same - based in Australia, but international)

    Emusic [] (pay and not really indie per se, but smaller label and re-release oriented, based in USA)

    Artistlaunch [] (based in the USA, but international)

    mp3 Poland [] - (Based in Poland - mostly domestic)

    Good Google will searches turn up more small sites, thousands of independent artists' sites with free mp3's, some smaller labels that have free samples, many, many links pages. The biggest problem here is that it takes time to separate the wheat from the chaff. There is some incredibly good stuff out there and a lot of crap.

    Use Google - many local newspaper sites have mp3 sections for local artists and there are many mp3 sites that are specifically for local talent.

    If you're not familiar with, it can be daunting in the sheer volume of material (no pun intended). And they accept material of all (musical) quality from absolute crap to incredibly good. They have many genre-based top-40 style charts and new-release charts. Walking through those is a natural first step. One concept they have that can be a big help is "stations" - really a euphemism for fan-generated lists of tunes by various artists. The tunes can be played separately or sequentially. So, when you find an artist that you like and get to their page, click on the "stations now playing" tab. On that page could be one to several "stations" where you might find additional good material that someone else has taken the time to comb out and list. I've seen lists from 2 to 200 tunes long - this can expand your options very quickly.

    I have looked for ogg sources and found precious few. Unfortunately, Ogg is still a long way from critical mass.

  • by zogger ( 617870 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @07:50PM (#4646696) Homepage Journal
    --here's just one possible way to deal with this, I'll put in a plug for a worthwhile project here that's been covered on slashdot already, eliminate the middleman completely, use something like streamerp2p* [], distribute your own works or other open source/free works. Just step around the problem, use internet aikido. Get your entertainment work out to people, maybe they'll buy your cd then or go to your concert? Just a thought, but eliminating the middlemen of the recording industry and broadcast industry will reduce costs, and help gain notice for a lot more musicians. and it's a slick concept, too.

    *they need help from linux coders to help make this happen on open source os.

  • by 3seas ( 184403 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @08:08PM (#4646841) Homepage Journal
    The general idea of this is really good.

    Musicians/talent is a dime a dozen...

    The music industry spends alot of money on promotion of bands that have yet to prove themselves. This results in less return for artist unless they hit it really big. The money lost has to come from somewhere.

    There may be alot of "just can't cut it" talent but as someone who grew up helping band, watching many come and go as breakup and get together happens, not to mention open jam sessions and night club curcuit bands, there is those times when the right combination of talent, equiptment, .... click happens that I wish I had on record.

    Sooo To reduce record industry cost and lost to failures, while increasing returns to artist that do generate worthwhile returns, instead of subsidizing the failures....

    We have the internet to help artist and groups establish their success or failure prior to record industry signings.

    If you hit a high enough level of success and popularity on the internet then as an artist or group you would have a bit more barganing power with the competition to sign you.... Like sports?

    While on the record industry side, this prequalification for success will reduce cost of loses.

    And we who listen... we get to hear alot of .... well how about a rating system like slashdot or even better, simpler.... flash your rack [] perhaps instead called "Sound Your Tune"
  • by thumbtack ( 445103 ) <thumbtack@j u n o . c om> on Monday November 11, 2002 @09:32PM (#4647412)
    What needs to happen is to forget the RIAA labels and their 60 year old business model.
    1) If you write music NEVER sell your publishing (the typial deal is 50%)
    2) If your goal is to be a "Rock Star" then forget it. You're playing music for the wrong reasons.(try acting, at least you get paid)
    3) Remember that music is a business too, treat it as such.(or at least get an attorney and an accountant)
    4) Concentrate on each sale rather than selling a million or two and gold records. There are many people with gold records pushing brooms in Las Vegas.
    5) If you're good, you will come to the attention of labels, get a lawyer who is NOT an entertainemt attorney (Not beholding to anyone) to look at the contracts. Boilerplate contracts amount to virtually indentured servitude. If they think you are worth persuing don't let them have publishing (a common practice these days)change your look or the music you want to play. (artistic control)Take a look at this contract critique [].
    6) Get your music out there. There are plenty of free websites like DMusic.Com [] that offer artists a free page to let people discover your music, link to your website, sell your cd, etc. I recently ran across an artist who has their music on over 100 free websites and has TURNED DOWN a major label contract.(and is happy she did, all the money she earns is hers)
    7) When not everyone else is taking their cut before you get yours, you don't need to sell millions of CDs to make a damned decent living.
  • by aquarian ( 134728 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @09:35PM (#4647430)
    The real key is to get out of the house, go to shows, and buy the bands' CDs. The problem with record labels, websites, or whatver, even if they're free, is that they can't help but filter out a lot of stuff you'd like. There's no way to expect someone else to find this stuff for you, and hand it to you. It's like getting an education or learning a craft -- at some point you have to participate actively. If you want someone else to find this stuff for you and feed it to you, you'll get what you deserve. If you really cared about music, you'd be going to local shows, checking out what's new, and seeing local and travelling bands when they're in town. Do them a favor -- instead of blowing all your money at the bar, buy a CD, or maybe a T-shirt. That way, the money goes right to the source. The CDs are usually burned on a band member's computer, and T-shirts printed on their kitchen tables. Most unsigned bands tour at great personal expense -- what they make at a show hardly covers the gas money, let alone food, hotels, van repairs, or that big one, the cost of not working for several weeks. Show some appreciation. Get off your fat geek ass, get out of the house, and participate in life. Who knows, you might even meet some girls...
  • My band(s) (Score:4, Interesting)

    by yoink! ( 196362 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @10:34PM (#4647772) Homepage Journal
    Our approach has been one in which we blatantly give away our music. Any user can download complete songs off our website. All of our music is available from our first, crappy recordings to our new and still crappy recordings. We focus our money making operation on live Gigs. Heck we give away free CDRs of our music to people who ask for it, and it says so on the website.

    One thing which has really struck me with the (hopefully) emminent demise of the recording industry, as we know it, will be the return to local, community based live venues for musical groups. The playing field has begun to level itself, and I don't think there needs to be a necessary effort to control it. In fact it's the control that huge conglomerates have attempted to gain that has crushed the industry in the first place.

    As a band we plan to dive head-first into the free music scene. Seeing as though we are first and foremost a live band, our recordings are nowhere near as exciting as a live performance. But when push comes to shove, if you want to carry around some bellyrash [] in your portable mp3 player, you are more than welcome to without our express written consent.

    One way in which the recording industry has everyone trapped is no different that the consistent /. theme of Microsoft(tm) vs. the world. Quality will always stand over quantity even if the majority of persons out there don't even know where to look for quality because quantity has blinded their sight.

    eye no eye maid sum gram are miss steaks,
  • by serutan ( 259622 ) <snoopdoug&geekazon,com> on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @03:25AM (#4649240) Homepage
    I don't think anybody is going to construct a mega website that will become THE alternative to the music industry. There will be a vast number of small sites, each promoting a few bands or distributing a few songs as their bandwidth allows. That is evolving right now. In their midst will be a community of larger, Slashdot-like sites that offer reviews, small downloads and tons of links. That and P2P sharing will do on a large scale what word of mouth does locally. As the myth that musicians make money selling records eventually fades away, more and more bands will be distributing recordings freely for the exposure that leads to gigs, which do make money.

    The watershed moment will come when somebody hits the bigtime through web exposure alone, and is playing huge venues and making tons of money without a recording contract. Of course, hardly any musicians will ever get there, just like hardly any do now. But the moment it becomes reality, the music industry will no longer have a monopoly on the fame-and-fortune carrot on a stick.

    It's not as though every undiscovered band is a great band. Let's face it, most of them are worse than typical top 40 bands. But as the online community becomes more significant and people are able to find the good stuff on their own, the market for CDs will shrink. Paid music will become a minor distribution channel, and the record companies will probably claw each other to bits fighting over the scraps.

    Popcorn anyone?
  • by johnrpenner ( 40054 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2002 @01:29PM (#4651938) Homepage
    --| piracy or copyright? the third solution |---

    The Strength of the Wolf is the Pack;
    and the Strength of the Pack is the Wolf.
    (Rudyard Kipling)

    - copyright exists to ensure musicians get paid.

    - the other side is that once an artist produces something,
    it goes beyond them and many benefit.

    - between consumers and producers now stands record companies

    - but paying artists is only a step on the way to gaining profit.
    in practice, many musicians (who play instruments) starve, while
    marketing bimbos (spice girls) thrive - this is wrong.

    - a fundemental qualitative difference between physical and
    electronic goods is - if i have an apple and give you an apple,
    i no longer have an apple; but if i have an idea and give you an idea,
    we BOTH have an idea. therefore you cannot treat electronic things as
    if they were actually physical goods, because they aren't!

    - still, you must compensate producers of the original bits.
    so what to do?

    - the physical distributors and merchandisers pay into the musician's
    pool that pays and feeds the musicians.

    - the musicians pool distributes it equitably among its active producers.

    - from the pool comes more new music. which is given away for free.
    unlimited digital copies for everyone, never again a dime paid for
    anything that's just DATA.

    - distributors get fresh music, and sell and package more STUFF.

    - distributors pay back a percentage of sales back into the pool.

    - so it comes back and feeds itelf (the most important part).

    > RESULTS:
    - so all software is free - you get mindshare from it.

    - but if you make a physical whose value lies on the free music on it,
    then a percentage goes back.

    - but the artist is not paid direct - it goes to the musician's pool,
    which doles out shares each month by percentage of overall downloads
    from a service such as Napster.


    Q: won't physical distribution go away
    when we move to total digital distribution?

    A: i do not believe the vision that sales of physical goods will diminish
    towards zero and be replaced entirely by digital distribution.
    as digital distribution goes up, the value-added of merchandising
    of 'physical' stuff based around the content will go up. SOMETHING
    THAT IS PHYSICAL IS SCARCE, and its value (unlike digital) lies in
    that not everyone can have it. thus, collectors will pay a premium
    to have something TANGIBLE and official from the band over just a
    download of the song.

    when anyone can get a copy of a song downloaded for free,
    then the merchandisers will 'add value' to the product through
    unique packaging, and by inventing desirable things to provide
    in addition to 'just the data'. for example:

    - you get a printed booklet and poster with your CD - looks nicer
    than if you burn it yourself.

    - you have all sorts of merchandise: books, fanzines, t-shirts,
    it is up to the ingenuity of the merchandisers to make money
    off of this stuff - and when they do - a percentage (like a sales tax)
    goes back to the musician's pool, and gets divided up by percentage of
    P2P (or insert your service here) downloads that month.

    - i can download a copy of any of shakespeare's works TODAY FOR FREE
    from PROJECT GUTENBURG - but i still go out to amazon to order a
    copy. why? i COULD download it and print it myself on my inkjet
    printer, but it would cost me more to download and print then to buy
    a copy that's already nicely packaged by a bookseller. in essence:
    the 'data' of the book is free, but i'm paying for more than just
    the content, i'm also paying for the convenience (over printing on
    my own inkjet), and the PRESENTATION.

    > Economic Basis for Musician's Associations:

    see: einer-Social.html []


Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter