Drip.fm – a fairer deal for labels

breaking down why labels can bank on their fans using drip.fm.

Drip.fm was conceived by those at the helm of experimental electronica label Ghostly International as a means of distributing their music to their fans, and launched early this year. The service differs from standard music stores in that you subscribe to a label’s catalogue instead of purchasing individual albums. It is currently in beta, and as such only has a select number of labels involved (watch this space..). So what is it that makes this platform such an exciting proposition?

Firstly, the labels involved (Stones Throw, Dirty Bird, Ghostly International, and Mad Decent) are all fairly small indie labels and have fairly coherent rosters of artists; if you like one artist on the label, it’s likely you’ll like another (this is not true of larger labels where there is often little connection between artists) – these labels effectively act as curators, signing acts they like, rather than purely on how much they might sell.  What this means is that subscribing provides an easy, convenient way to discover new, high quality music relevant to you.

Secondly, the service offers great value.  For the past three months I’ve been subscribing to Stones Throw’s releases (all in DRM Free, high quality MP3/WAV) for £6 a month ($10) and have so far got nine releases, working out at a mere £2 a release, which is far cheaper than any other source – even the label’s own webstore. I’ve also recieved some of these releases ahead of the official release date which whilst not massively important to me, is a nice bonus!

Up until now I’ve been ambivalent towards paying for non-physical formats – prices have always seemed wildly inflated for something that is essentially just a chain of ones and zeros, and this is without mention of DRM and other draconian measures. However there is also the attached guilt to piracy, paticularly if its a smaller artist – so it is great that there is now a way to compensate artists for their work for what seems to be a fair price and good value.

So if they are potentially making less profit than they would through other channels, why would a label/artist use drip.fm to connect to their fans? First and foremost, the platform gives labels a great deal of control over how the platform is used: how much subscribers pay, how much music is released, and when etc. Other platforms offer much less freedom and thus labels and artists get a worse deal. Also important is that as the service is subscription-based labels receive regular, predictable payment. This means they are better able to make long term finiancial decisions and commitments with less risk than before.

What’s really great about drip.fm is that it restablishes a symbiotic bond between producer and consumer, with labels providing high quality great value music to fans, who in turn allow the labels to run themselves better, thus providing more music for the fans. Everyone’s a winner!

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