Rolling Stones & Fugazi Launch Digital Archives with Radically Different Approaches
Musicians have been using the web to amplify and extend their careers in a variety of ways. One still emerging solution is to create digital archives with content ranging from copies of old newspaper clippings to recordings of live concerts. Recently both the Rolling Stones and Fugazi opened online archives with quite different approaches to content and access that reflect their respective approaches to the business of music.
I feel stuck in cliches comparing the Rolling Stones, titans of rebellious corporate rock, and Fugazi, exemplars of DIY indie music, so I'll leave it at that. Comparing their approaches to recently launched digital archives probably says more about their views of art and the music business than anything else I could come up with.
The Stones Archives seems pretty threadbare at this point, in contrast to the rich reservoirs of history in which they participated, despite this self-description:
"The Rolling Stones have unlocked the door to their archive, full of music, film and memorabilia from their incredible, almost 50 year career. At www.StonesArchive.com you can listen to unheard music, view unseen photographs and films, and look at rare merchandise."
Maybe one day that statement will be true but currently it seems to be a highly controlled marketing tool for their release of "The Brussels Affair", an official issue of a previously bootlegged concert recording from 1972, plus related merch. Freebies include 30 second song samples and some related YouTube videos. In addition, there are photos of live performances and memorabilia from that time along with an interview with tour photographer Michael Putland.
Fugazi's career was characterized by all-ages shows and low-priced "usually $5 to $7" tickets. They have around 800 recorded shows and are releasing them as individual downloads at $5 a show with a pay-what-you-want option. There's an All Access option for a $500 payment that is also pitched as a way to support ongoing development of the archives.
Each show has its own page with a sample track, a pic and comments, though the pic is often the same one of the band (see above thumbnail). They say they plan to include additional material and have an email on each page requesting photos from that show. They launched with 130 downloadable shows. While there is a tab in the site navigation to direct you to buyable stuff, it's not emphasized.
Both approaches have their merit and reflect the bands' differing approaches to business. The Rolling Stones, whose official website also has some basic archival material, are likely to continue to release chunks of free content tied to paid content and merch. Fugazi will continue to digitize shows in their raw state, add free related content as available and let the fans sort it out.
What do you think about these approaches and how would you do things if you were in charge?
Hypebot contributor Clyde Smith maintains his freelance writing hub at Flux Research and blogs at All World Dance and This Business of Blogging. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.