Monday, 16 April 2012
[This is reposted as part of our Best-Of Revelife Week. It was originally posted on September 21, 2010.]
By Justin at Faith and Geekery
Noisetrade is one of those online music stores that somehow slips past people’s attention, which is really too bad.
The concept is straightforward: the music is sold online and you can pay what you want. Then 80% of the money will go back to the artist. The store, started in part by Derek Webb, has been a success thanks to word-of-mouth buzz and the fact that they occasionally give away full albums.
If you want to try out some of their artists, they’re giving away a 25-song sampler for download. Visit their website, provide an email address, and they’ll send you a link. If you’re so inclined you can also pay for the sampler, but it’s not required.
It’s been pretty amazing to watch online music upset the rest of the industry over the past ten years. I remember some of the early attempts to sell music online; some of them were downright hilarious in their attempts to keep you from actually using the music you purchased as you wanted. I remember seeing singles from popular albums being sold for about $2.50 in 2000, and they were only playable on special players; you’d have to pay extra if you wanted to have the music burned onto a CD. Sometimes a song would be a free download, but it would expire after twenty days. As bad as all of that sounds, these were some of the better ideas at the time; some were actually far worse.
Of course, when iTunes debuted, everything changed — even if the DRM drove people nuts and guys like Weird Al complained that the returns for musicians were minuscule. Regardless, it was a sign that people were ready to try something new. Radiohead gambled on this when they released their album In Rainbows with a pay-what-you-want plan; sales went through the roof. Since then, that method has been used on everything from magazines to video games. While not everyone has adopted that plan (especially since it hasn’t always been met with the same success Radiohead acheived), it does seem to have some traction.
As for the Noisetrade sampler, there are some great songs by Derek Webb, Sandra McCracken, Waterdeep, and Mike Farris, plus a number of others that are worth your time. The only gripe I have is that much of the music is squarely in the indie/folk genre, which means a lot of slow and mid-tempo songs that can run together after a while. Even then, that’s probably a taste issue more than anything else, so head on over to their website and find out for yourself. Take some time to look around and see what else is there and enjoy the fact that the musicians will be seeing most of the returns on anything you buy.