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…On the Acquisition of Music.

Posted by Steve on September 7, 2008

Half a year ago was my birthday, and from my parents I received an iTunes gift card. I finally, over the past month, set up an iTunes account and spent that gift card on music. I’m rather pleased with most of my purchases, especially as I took chances on some bands I’d never heard of before, like Eluveitie and Cadacross. I was well-rewarded with many of those, in particular Eluveitie. A few disappointments, but hey – not like I’d paid for it, right?

Of course, those disappointing songs would’ve been less disappointing if there were some way to recoup my gift card credit from them. Enter Wednesday’s CNN.com article on new internet music retailer Popcuts. Their business model is an unusual one, to say the least: a portion of the $0.99 revenue each time someone buys a track is split as store credit among people who’ve already purchased the track. As I see it, the system’s an attempt to give people an incentive to try out completely new artists and make it easier for those brand-new artists to get a fan base.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the minuscule catalog (granted, they only started up in August, but there don’t appear to be more than a few hundred) consists almost entirely of independent, unsigned, local- and garage- level acts. That may be what makes this work in the long-run. It may be what makes it fail quickly. I don’t know. I do know that the Metal genre, as of this moment, has music from 10 artists, at least two of which just appear to be guys in their basement. I did, though, find one track that I liked the 30-second sample of enough to risk 99 cents on. After all, even if I don’t like it, I can maybe get enough credit from it to try something else. And in the meantime, the aspiring musician and the aspiring music retailer both get a few cents, and the aspiring musician also gets his Last.fm playcount to go up from seven plays by two people to a minimum of eight plays by three people. Which is good for him, too.

So, I’ll keep an eye on this Popcuts place, to see if their catalog grows in ways I like, but I don’t expect it to ever supplant Last.fm as my main internet music source, what with its wonderful combination of internet radio, free downloadable demo tracks, and for-sale downloadable tracks.

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