Digital Music Store Focus – Insound

insoundInsound is a minor player with a lot of heart involved in its operation. They essentially act as a blog and record label, picking up and supporting new acts that are to their taste, promoting them and selling their music through the site. They’re a smaller retailer that survives by taking an active interest in the bands they sell, keeping their margins high (read higher prices to the consumer – MP3 downloads $9.99-$10.49) and selling other trendy stuff, badges, bags, books etc. If you can convince them that you’re worth selling they’ll really make an effort to put you out in front of their indie audience, with promotional tools like free MP3 downloads and custom merch to drag people in to buy your music. RouteNote doesn’t currently do digital distribution to Insound – your best bet would be to approach them directly.

***EDIT***

Just to respond to that comment: a totally unfair comparison of someone who happened to be on Insound’s MP3 download front page when I looked, The Castanets, shows their album ‘Texas Rose…’ as being $1.50 cheaper on Amazon ($8.99) than on Insound ($10.49). Please feel free to refute me with your own research. I think Insound might deserve the extra money for taking an active interest in the bands they promote, and I hope they pass on more $ to their artists, but as a straight comparison, Amazon is cheaper (admittedly this is only one example).

insound castanets

amazon castanets

Digital Music Store Focus – iMesh

iMeshiMesh is a peer-to-peer platform that has survived the legal harrow of the recording industry. The RIAA brought a copyright infringement case against them, which they settled out of court, and after which they changed their business model to be based on subscriptions within North America. Those of us lucky enough to live in Europe can still use the file sharing service without paying a $29.99 annual fee, and even the hapless Americans can use the iMesh ‘to go’ service, paying for tracks individually.

The music they offer up through their search is based on results from youtube, which streams quite smoothly in a little window on their GUI (the program window), and on the hard drives of the various iMesh users logged on at a given time (you all know how peer to peer works, right?). They have agreements with the RIAA (and thus the labels and artists listed with them) to pay royalties on streams and downloads, but they also have a vast amount of content that has not had copyright claimed. This doesn’t mean that copyright doesn’t exist in those tracks, just that the people the tracks belong to haven’t objected to their being used on iMesh’s service, which doesn’t seem particularly equitable if they don’t know its happening. RouteNote doesn’t currently do digital distribution to iMesh, but if you’re a user, you can put your own tracks in your iMesh folder to be shared. You won’t recieve any revenue thereby unless you’re registered with one of their partner mechanical copyright agencies like the RIAA or MCPS though.

Digital Music Store Focus – eMusic

eMusic.comeMusic.com launched back in the misty past of September of 1995, initially as a CD retailer in September 1995. They didn’t move over to their current subscription based model until 2000, but they’ve since sold more than 300 million music downloads from catalogue of 6 million tracks, from 60,000 record labels. They deal with Sony, but not any other of the other majors. They make up for this by a strong focus on new and independent music – a policy of obvious benefit to RouteNote users – actively promoting artists from labels like Warp, Domino, Beggars group etc. They also have a very active and trend-conscious blog, written by people who are keeping an eye on music that comes in to eMusic’s electronic fold, going some way to proving that they genuinely care about the music they sell.

RouteNote can distribute your music to eMusic; artist revenues are based on dividing a proportion of their total subscription fees between the artists that were downloaded, 1 download equaling 1 share of the divided dinero. Subscription costs are variable, but in the UK you’re looking at somewhere under £10 for a month, which buys you 40 tracks (25p each for those who hate maths as much as me). eMusic will then take their share, and pass on a cut to the artist. Good for the consumer who’s prepared to commit to a monthly outlay, not necessarily as good for an independent artist, who is looking at significantly less per track income than on iTunes, but then there is more chance of an indie-loving audience hearing and buying your music, and more chance of getting exposure on an indie based blog than on one where you have to compete with artists from all the majors with a huge budget behind them.

Digital Music Store Focus – Bleep.com

Bleep.comA niche indie supplier trading mostly in electronic music – the stars of their catalogue are Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Thom Yorke (of Radiohead)… Principally formed from the catalogue of Warp records, but also featuring the catalogues of over 300 other record labels this site sells both MP3 downloads and physical discs (CD’s and vinyl). Their prices are based on the GBP, £6.99 for MP3’s, £8.99 for WAV’s (nice that they give you the choice) around £9-£13 for a CD, and a few quid more for the black stuff. If you’re in the states you’ll save by not paying the UK tax, but for everyone else they’re pretty expensive. Not really a competitor to the big guys like iTunes and Amazon, more for the enthusiast who can’t wait to get their mitts on a holdable, strokeable copy of their favourite band’s new LP or 12 inch single. They also do merch for some of the bands on their roster, so more and at the same time less than the big guys. RouteNote does not currently distribute to Bleep.