In the comments of a post in one of the best Portuguese-written blogs, Remixtures, I explained why I use (and recommend), as an artist, Reverbnation. The big issue here is simple: we're living in a world of music like water, where the real value of music in digital format is approaching zero, where artists can - or should I say have? - reinvent themselves, adhere to the whole "Music 2.0" concept. Having a record label nowadays makes no sense. Selling digital music and consider that a business (or at least revenue) model is like waiting for the shit to hit the fan. Physical sales are a revenue source if you do your stuff well: if there's added value in the physical package: jewel case is worthless, but what you can do with it can be priceless. But to record and sell physical albums (like, for instance, CD's) you need money. To do it while cutting the middle man you need more money (even if it will give you a lot more money too, so you end winning). Where are artists getting that money?
Well... you have merchandise, ringtones, gigs, subscription stuff, whatever you can remember. If you're a small band and want to grab some ideas, you can, for instance, take a look on SellABand and see what are bands offering there to grab more believers. Or... you can make money from digital music.
Yes, I know I said that music is like water, that the real value of music in digital format is zero. But that doesn't mean - at all - that the community you can make around those tracks are worthless. As a matter of fact, in this kind of Music 2.0 models you can have a lot of potential value, since communities tend to be created. One of the first, basic, ways to explore that whole potential is - that's right - publicity. If I give you two band profiles on MySpace, I bet you can easily see who is the most succesful. It's not the one with more tracks, or videos, or with the most pimped profile. But it is probably the one with most friends and comments. In other words, with more pageviews: if a community exists, people keep coming there to see what's up. Now, if your fans can give you all that power, and if you can give all that power over to someone who knows and can, better then yourself, turn that power into money, you have a win-win scenario. And there were those who knew how to do it.
ReverbNation and Jamendo are two simple and easy "music social networks" where a band can register and put their songs there, letting everyone download the tracks. What makes these two so interesting to bands is that they share their profits, 50/50, with the bands. Now bands have a reason to be there, and with bands come fans, and the social network just have to wait and collect their share. Everyone's happy. This is something I hope (and think I will) to see more used, with more bands adhering with this model.
ReverbNation and Jamendo, each one has things better and worse than the other. But, for me, there are two crucial differences:
- Jamendo only accepts Creative Commons or Arte Libre tracks. While this fits (almost) well to me, it's something that will push away lot's of other bands. In my case, by chance, it also pushes me away, since one of my tracks (Interlude) is in Public Domain.
- Jamendo lets you download via P2P, ReverbNation via HTTP. While the perfect scenario would be having both options available, having to choose from one or another isn't difficult. I trust that if I give the link to my ReverbNation profile to one of my sisters, they'll manage to download some tracks. I doubt I would be able to say the same if those tracks were on Jamendo.
All in all, there's still an huge space to fill in here. Both services have only a pretty small variety of music and genres, and both have an huge space for improvement. Still, if you're an artist you have no reason to whine about piracy et al.. Want to stop piracy? Earn money by giving your music for free.