Doing my regular routine search on Killer Startups‘ video-music-photo section, I discovered this very interesting widget developer called NoiseTrade that focuses its efforts music promotion. The start-up’s widget is apparently working wonders in terms of connecting bands with their fans with a single two-sided distribution model. After these two pretty vague sentences, let me explain:
An artists signs-up, uploads up to 20 songs to the widget, and places it wherever he/she desires. The widget enables fans to either a/pay a minimum of $1 to download the promoted album or b/recommend the album to five people of their choice and receive it for free.
This didn’t strike me as a particularly innovating idea before I actually clicked on one of their widget’s eye-soothing orange ‘Tell Five Friends’ button. By spending virtually no more than 2 minutes of your time, you get an entire album for free (192 kb/s mp3s) and you promote an artist’s music directly to five people. Very viral and very community-friendly.
Now on the business side of things, to enroll in the NoiseTrade ‘program’, artists are required to pay a flat fee of $250 to activate their widget giving them 20 000 downloads total (meaning their album can be downloaded 20 000 times for that fee). Once they reached that mark, bands are to pay $75 for every additional 5000 downloads. Added to that, NoiseTrade also scoops up a %10 margin on every ‘pay-what-you-want’ transaction.
This may seem expensive to some, but according to CEO Derek Webb, his bootstrapped company barely makes money with his Amazone S3 hosting eating up most of the profit. Besides, the virality of such a widget can easily make up for the $250 promotional cost.
Derek had released his album ‘Mockingbird’ back in 2006 and gave it away for free in exchange for the downloaders’ information. Within three months he had reached 80 000 downloads and immediately noticed an increase in show attendance and album sales. That experience originated his NoiseTrade concept.
For those of you skeptical about paying what seems to be a fortune in the p2p music world we now live in, taking a step back might help you realize that paying $250 for an immense list of emails and postal codes of fan, or potential-fans, isn’t that much, and NoiseTrade’s aim is to enroll bands who already have an established fan-base.
One thing I really loved about the website is the subtle-sober beauty of its design and navigation. You would expect the artist profile to take you through the usual mind numbing task of entering your band info and uploading songs, but here the process actually felt….not too boring. I barely knew what the service was about that it already made me feel at ease with it, as if the fact that I was uploading songs really meant something. Don’t ask me why, but that’s what came to mind at the time :)