Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

When times get tough, the tough get innovating

Innovation comes in many different forms. When you’re a record label operating at a time when sales and revenue are on the slide, you have a couple of options. You can do what the big boys are doing: sit on …

Fri, Feb 3, 2012, 09:44

   

Innovation comes in many different forms. When you’re a record label operating at a time when sales and revenue are on the slide, you have a couple of options. You can do what the big boys are doing: sit on your hoop, hire legal eagles to commence court actions and give out yards about your situation. Or you can actually do something which recognises that the world and your business model have changed.

Los Angeles-based Stones Throw are not the first or last label to come up with the idea of a subscription model, but their offering is one we can expect many others to imitate.

For $10 a month, you’ll get every new release from the hip-hop label which has released records in the past by Aloe Blacc, Mayer Hawthorne, J Dilla, Madlib, The Stepkids and many more. Upcoming releases which will soon be hitting subscribers’ in-box include an EP from Homeboy Sandman and an album from Quakers, the hip-hop project from Portishead’s Geoff Barrow.

It’s a great deal on many different levels. The price is a snip for those label obsessives who know Stones Throw will always produce the goods, while the casual fan is also likely to be enticed at that price point. The label are probably making better dough from the deal than they’re getting from eMusic or the streaming sites. The acts will attract new fans. Everyone’s a winner.

All of which begs the question why more labels don’t move in this direction. Some have, in fairness, worked up similar plans – for instance, there’s the Friends of Richter Collective scheme from the Irish label – but not as many as you’d expect. While the majors seem to be caught in a permanent state of inertia, perhaps we’ll see more indies heading for the innovative side of the street.

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