I thought I had blogged this once but I can find no record of it, so here we go. Magnatune is a label that operates entirely by shareware. You can listen to the files via streaming MP3 and if/when you decide you want to buy it, they will give you a link to download the high quality uncompressed WAV files to burn a CD. You can give as little as $5 and get it, but you have the option to give more if you like. The money is split 50/50 between the label and the artist, so giving more means the artist gets paid more. This seems like a clever and creative business model, and I particularly like their motto “We Are Not Evil.”

Thus far I have listened to music by Rapoon (an artist also programmed at WREK for albums released on more traditional labels), Drop Trio, and Brad Sucks. I’ve liked it all. I’m thinking that I might give money for this Brad Sucks album. It’s good, lo-fi recorded-in-the-bedroom one-man rock and it really rocks. On the webpage, it mentions comparisons to “Beck, Moby, Folk Implosion and John Vanderslice.” He’s also got that rattling monotone singing that puts me in mind of Layne Staley. Halfway through the album, “Bad Attraction” stood out because of the cool screaming cat guitars in it. I’m convinced – this album is a keeper. The upside is that now I have dozens and dozens of albums to try to see what I like.

I’m really curious how this business model ends up working for them. They aren’t going to bring in nearly as much cash as a typical label, but then they have a fraction of the expenses. They don’t need to bother throwing cash at radio trying to get play and they don’t even have to pay to press CDs. It may or may not fly, but this is a highly credible effort that makes the tactics of the RIAA and big labels look even more hamfisted. Why can this label think of creative ways to use the internet, yet they with all their billions cannot?

Via Die Puny Humans.

Update: Here’s a description of the general Magnatune plan. If you explore these documents, you’ll find that one of the things they aim for is to get bloggers to write about the label. Check, it worked on me.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father. Member of the Podcast Hall of Fame class of 2022.