Selling Music on Social Networks

On Reuters there was a piece where they were saying that labels are eyeing social networks as retailers, which isn't really news to me: I've been seeing this countless times, an effort made by both bands and/or labels in different kinds of promotion and profit. It's not small the number of record labels with a MySpace profile, but what's really interesting (and cool) to see is the number of record labels betting on social networks like Last.fm, showing that they have at least a glimpse of what they're doing. Also, it seems that major labels are seeing a bad side of DRM: besides the technical issues of implementing it, social networking users simply don't want DRM in their tracks, so an artist selling in those networks DRM'd files is in a clear disadvantage in relation to other, DRM-free, artists. I don't really like Snocap (I'll write about that in a later post), but Snocap's Rueff said something in conclusion that I want to quote:
"Social networks are the (peer-to-peer) networks of the future [...] They're this generation's MTV. If you want to be at a point of sale at the highest point of desire and consumption, be where the fan is."

Oddly, Gooveshark guys didn't like what they read: their first post about the Reuters' article basicly states that turning social networks (and services that float around them like Snocap) is a model "where your own network's members make a little side money for yourself, but a boatload of cash for your corporate overlords". They keep going, saying that "with more innovative services like Grooveshark out there, where you can not only make money off of your music but be part of a social network in the process? Who would deny that opportunity?". This quite amuses me, since the "innovative service" that Grooveshark presents is, basicly, the same as this Social Networks. Snocap, AmieStreet, GrooveShark, they're all the same concepts: bands sell, fans sell, buyers pay, a boatload of cash is supposedly made. What makes GooveShark different?

But they didn't stop here: a second article called "Damn Those Myspace Window Shoppers" was written. The writer quotes a study from EMR and Olswand saying that "More than half of internet users surveyed by Entertainment Media Research and the law firm Olswang said they surfed social networking sites such as MySpace and YouTube specifically to come across new songs.", but then tells us, without any kind of source, that "most of these people love to discover new music knowing full and well that they will ultimately dip from the illegal pool of music downloads to obtain the freshly discovered music". First, we don't know if that's truth, then there are no sources telling if illegal downloads contribute for sales increases or decreases - it surely depends from person to person but I doubt that they can find an imparcial source saying that it decreases sales, which should be good for them since GooveShark's business model depends on that. Then, he keeps randomly ranting, talking about how "added value" is needed, but saying that CD's give few or none (where's the extra value in digital music bought on GrooveShark?), even if "CDs had vastly superior sound compared to cassettes or records" (sorry mate, but vinyl records have way better sound!).

The conclusion? Well, there's really no directly related conclusion to take from this post. Finaly record labels are discovering the potential of the web and the turndowns of DRM, which is good. In relation to GrooveShark's comments, I just have to say that while it's preety important for a start-up to be close with their readers, using several ways to achieve it including mantaining a blog, a blog makes an image of that startup. Writing articles like these (and others) only contribute for people taking GrooveShark less and less seriously.