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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A New Record Label Aims to Give Artists a Fair Shake

Radiohead's manager, Brian Message, is part of a group creating a new record label, Polyphonic, that'll let artists keep half of the profits they generate, emphasize digital distribution, and perhaps experiment in ways similar to Radiohead's "Name Your Own" price initiative. Polyphonic has $20 million of funding so far.

Here's coverage from New Music Express, The Telegraph, and today's New York Times.

The Times writes:

    Under the Polyphonic model, bands that receive investments from the firm will operate like start-up companies, recording their own music and choosing outside contractors to handle their publicity, merchandise and touring.

    Instead of receiving an advance and then possibly reaping royalties later if they have a hit, musicians will share in all the profits from their music and touring. In another departure from tradition in the music business, they will also maintain ownership of their own copyrights and master recordings — meaning they and their heirs can keep earning money from their music.

    “We are all witnessing major labels starting to shed artists that are hitting only 80,000 or 100,000 unit sales,” said Adam Driscoll, another Polyphonic founder and chief executive of the British media company MAMA Group. “Do a quick calculation on those sales, with an artist who can tour in multiple cities, and that is a good business. You can take that as a foundation and build on it.”

Interesting approach.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a Web site for Polyphonic. Could this digitally-savvy crew really have started to promote their company before launching a Web site? (This MySpace page for Polyphonic Records does not seem to be theirs.)

So let's play the game "Find the Web Site." Who'll be first?

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  • Youtube potentially makes it even easier...

    Instead of continuing to take down videos which contain music owned by third parties, UMG has (at least in this case) added an iTunes link to purchase their song I've used on Youtube without forewarning me of their taking this action... which I think is pretty simple, elegant solution.
    is Ballet Austin set to The New Radicals.

    This particular vid has been up for a while under an account for a show I produced for the PBS station in Austin, KLRU. The use of this music falls under PBS's umbrella agreement with ASCP/BMI regarding broadcast, but the net has been a dark-grey area.
    The video has been live on YTube for over a year and they've just added the iTunes link this past week.

    It's easy to see the possibilities regarding concerts, live tapings on NPR, etc... make one-off music videos, post on Youtube and attach the link to your iTunes account after having uploaded the audio content (or eventually the music video itself), and maybe actually make some money. A REALLY amazing opportunity for unsigned bands if nothing else. If you (the band, radio station, etc) own the rights to the underlying performance and recording... you have just cut out every middle-man-delivery-obstacle(except perhaps the Chinese government) between artist and consumer without any up-front cost required from either party interested in the actual product.


    By Blogger Dutch Rall, at 11:51 AM  

  • By Blogger J&D, at 3:24 AM  

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