Most artists are broke, or at least struggling to generate meaningful income from their music.
In that reality, what’s the right price for distributing their music? Last year, Tunecore faced a huge backlash after raising their annual rates to $50 for one album… but then again, is $50 a year really that much? Actually, it depends on the artist: the stats say that many artists struggle to recover that investment, and that doesn’t include hobbyists, preservationists, and other passionate artists who aren’t looking to make a profit from recordings.
Of course there are other models. Just glancing at the biggest players, CD Baby takes a cut on sales, while ReverbNation charges $35 but also comps additional releases within bundled packages. But is there another sweet spot out there?
There’s an interesting pricing model now coming out of South Korea: Music Spray is now offering unlimited iTunes, Amazon and other distribution endpoints for $99 – for life. That is, unlimited releases for as long as you, your band, or your musical voice is alive. Here’s their jab at the bigger, more established US-based distributors…
“As a direct distributor for iTunes, once you become a member for just $99. ‘Music Spray’ will never ask for any annual fee or impose any hidden fees, unlike overseas companies providing the same service who charge a yearly membership fee.”
Several problems crop up immediately. This is currently geared towards South Koreans with Korean language support only. That said, there seems to be considerable traction, and a near-term global expansion plan includes support for English and Chinese. Which means at some point, this could make sense for any artist anticipating digital revenues of more than $100.
But wait: is this just a crappy model, offered by a company unlikely to make it past a few years? Actually, this could make sense for Music Spray and its parent, Pison Contents, simply because almost every band breaks up eventually. That means the $99 sunk cost will probably be vastly underutilized by most artists. But the question is whether Music Spray will be there for your lifetime.