Running up a netlabel means hard work, both for artists and label team, and means costs too (bandwidth, domain fee, etc). So today’s 1million dollars question is… can you make money running up a netlabel?
I will try to give you an answer to this question talking about how four netlabels approached the problem. The first two are italian, the others are international.
One of Niegazowana team wrote me an email some time ago, explaining me what’s the idea behind their project and asking me to visit their website.
Their goal is to distribute music made by new bands for a right amount of money and divide the earnings equally between artists and label team (= both 50%). They also provide the free creation of promo videoclips, made by a videomaker part of their team. This project is nice as concept but wrong as it has been realized, because:
– Niegazowana is not a netlabel in the strict meaning of the term, like they claim, because it doesn’t provide free music; maybe it’s a digital music platform or a web label or whatever else, but surely it has nothing to do with netaudio and Creative Commons movements. Netlabels are intended to promote and spread (often) great music made by new bands/artists for free and under permissive licences (like the Creative Commons ones), so they reach their goal when people download and likes their work! Netlabels represent a real alternative to commercial music, not a different way to call it.
– They claim to apply a fair price to their music but I don’t think so: the albums (available both as flac and mp3) cost 7 € on their site or 9.99 € via iTunes store. These prices are expensive and scare people. How many people are ready to pay 7 € for music made by new bands when you have 200+ GBs of the same music downloadable for free from other netlabels and via Jamendo? Few, I think. And don’t talk about the 9.99 € price tag! With 9.99 € you can buy on iTunes store a lot of good commercial albums or a lot of old, good audio cds on the local stores! I think that a fair and right price could be no more than 3-4 € for an album.
A Quiet Bump (http://www.aquietbump.com/)
This little (just 7 releases at the moment) and young italian netlabel promotes great dub & trip-hop music and spread it for free. You can download the albums in mp3 and the high-quality covers directly from their fast server and enjoy the quality of their music.
They publish few stuff yearly but be sure.. it’s good stuff 🙂
They have a “commercial side” too: If you like an album you downloaded from them, you can help artists and label requesting (for just 5 € + shipping costs) a digipak version of it. Yes, you got it: with just 5 €, you get a nice CD copy of the album, with cover, into your mailbox. Great doesn’t it? Watch the screenshot, these CDs look really professional and good! And paying 5 € for a pshysical (not digital!) copy of something you had the possibility to listen without limitations is nothing! The only disadvantage is that not all the releases are available on cd.
12rec is one of the best netlabel around for rock/post-rock music and I hope to review it soon. 12rec’s approach is the same of A Quiet Bump’s one: you can download the whole catalogue for free, without any limitation. There are also a bunch of videoclips available. If you like what you listen, you can order a physical copy of every release available for a price tag of 5-7€ (shipping included). They ship worldwide without any extra costs, but they ask you to order at least 3-4 cds before requesting the worldwide shipping.
LegoEgo 2.0 (http://www.legoego.de/)
LegoEgo’s approach is kinda original but smart: all their catalogue is freely downloadable as 128 kBit/s mp3 (they call it “common quality”), so you can freely enjoy it. If you want more audio quality, you can register on their website and purchase the 320 kBit/s mp3s (they call it “commercial quality”) using a valid Paypal account. The prices are 0.5-1€ for track *.
The advantage of this apporach is that you can get only the tracks you really like and make a compilation yourself. The disadvantage is that there is any possibility (at the moment) to get the physical versions of the releases available.