The other day I got a (yet another) piece of inbox spam on the otherwise cool service last.fm. And no good can come from spam, right?
Not sure what got into me, but I actually went to the site (which I’ll not name, so as to not potentially give them any customers). And you know what? They were doing something brilliant: they were selling high-fi music tracks for 20 cents a piece. No, that’s not in itself brilliant; Russian sites doing the same thing are and have been a dime a dozen. What struck me as brilliant was their way of allowing music lovers to explore the *full length* of songs while still enticing them to buy the track.
How did they do this? It’s ridiculously simple yet, IMHO, likely to be remarkably effective: they overwrote parts of each track several times with a moderately annoying audio blip (sort of a “chirp”). Only the truly desperate would possibly stream and copy and store such a track as an mp3, and, as we know, the truly desperate are not one’s potential customers. Had this firm been even more enterprising, they would have instead added once after each minute of song: “Sample brought to you by [companyname]; uninterrupted tracks just 20 cents!” If they wanted to be both enterprising AND deliciously devious, they’d have seeded a ton of torrent sites with those tracks :D). Or, at minimum, made it crazy-easy for bloggers to embed any track or album AND receive a cut of all proceeds from people clicking through to the site.
Maybe I’m naive or missing something glaringly obvious, but it seems like everyone would stand to win with such a situation:
– Music lovers would get to sample full-length (albeit slightly interrupted) songs, instead of dealing with the 30 second samples found on iTunes and similar sites.
– Musicians would be happy to see samples of their work passed around in a way that wouldn’t damage their potential for earning revenue on the same tracks.
– Bloggers and others distributing the tracks (especially if done so out of real passion for specific artists or songs) would be delighted to get commissions (though it’d be hard to grant commissions on just the bare passed-around MP3s).
– The legit music sites hosting MP3s in this way would probably enjoy greater sales and profits.