“Free” Thinker: INgroove’s Robb McDaniels

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As part of a week long exploration into the meaning and value of "free", Hypebot asked some of the music industry's most forward thinkers the value and future of free music.  Here Robb McDaniels, the CEO and founder of digital music distributor INgrooves responds:

"You asked for my opinion on “free music and how it can help the industry return the profitability”.  I think you asked for my “free” opinion.  So I have to decide whether it is worth my time to give you a piece of my intellectual property for free.

Of course, I am pretending/assuming for a second that people actually care enough about my opinion to prescribe a value to it.  At the very least, my time is money and I value my own time. 
So then I am creating something (my opinion and thought process) and evaluating whether or not…

it is worth it (value) to give it to you for free.  Does the value I am receiving from you exceed my own perceived value of the IP I created?  Does it actually increase the value of my other opinions because you are helping to inform a new audience about my musings?  Is it fair to assume that people will either agree (value) my opinion and want more of them or they will disagree (think I’m full of shit) and not care what my other opinions are? 

If yes to all these questions, then I am OK giving it away for free.  My opinion that is."

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  1. Wow this guy says a lot of nothing. Like most of these aggregrators for indie artists and others, they make all their money by having millions of bands that they give away their music for pieces of pennies for ad revenue which is like $35 for 1000 impressions or some mess, and when you add those up with the millions the aggregators make a profit, but the bands live on bread crumbs. Ask them to post these big earnings by bands…not just the 1% that make any money but the average ones. Can anyone really look me in the eye and say that musicians, now I am not talking your hacks and weekend variety, but honest to goodness recording, touring musicians are able to make a living off this new peice of penny give away mentality. There were far more money making and making a living just doing music back when the record companies were screwing them. Now you have the fans , lables and these aggregators screwing them. Free…I think not. The quality of music, the ability for a band to play and focus on music without flipping burgers in the off hours. Here is what Free gets you….get these bands deals where they get paid a decent rate per every download and stream, where there is a possability like a sports player that they can have a better life than having to retire at 25 because they have real life bills and can’t live with Mom and Dad. Ingrooves, IODA, the Orchards they are all part of the problem….plus look at their bottom lines…even they don’t make that much money in the big picture.Nothing against Robb personally but your system is broke. Your Free is not so Free.

  2. That’s all really interesting Steve, but INgrooves is a company that embraces the independent community, and promotes these artists in every way possible. I think you are missing the real point about what INgrooves does. Their technology platform (an equitable business model) helps content owners and artists, like myself, manage and understand the digital business (not to mention managing sales revenue and royalties). Their exceptional marketing efforts help sales grow, and their team seeks out every opportunity to add value to their represented content every step of the way. I see all of the great things they do for the independent music community, and their system is anything but broke. It is innovative, and evolutionary. At this point, there are so many questions about where the industry is headed, we all need to put our heads together to seek out the most creative and profitable solutions for everyone involved, ESPECIALLY for artists.

  3. While I applaude anyone helping indie bands and artists, I don’t think I have missed the point,they are just taking their pound of flesh like the record lables of old, but instead of investing in the artists or bands by paying for development or the making of a finished content good they rule bysheer volume making the money, leaving the bands with broken dream, flat butt broke. Remember in the end this is the music BUSINESS and INgrooves just like Warner Bros., Universal and the like are out to make money ….but unlike traditional record companies these new companies don’t need to do any advertising or worry about producing stars. No they just need to keep the numbers rolling and take their peice of pennies. Don’t kid yourself they don’t care what happens to your band, to your next album or to you career, it’s all about the peice of pennies baby!!!!

  4. i don’t know about the “other guys” but this company in particular takes a special interest in their artists and independent labels, and it’s a pretty flexible situation overall(every deal/contract is different), so anything is possible, including artist development. Do you know who Brooke Waggoner is (singer/songwriter)? They took a special interest in her project, and by landing her significant featured retail placement and a thoughtful strategic marketing plan, they helped carry her project to the top of the charts.
    Every project needs a team, and little help. If we didn’t, we’d all be celebrities. Sure, EVERY company is out to make money, but what each company does with their resources and time is far more relevant(in my opinion). They help to market their artists, plain and simple. Again, my 2cents 😉

  5. Case in point 99.9% of the people and industry do not know who Brooke Waggoner is. And also if that is your sole prove me wrong there should be hundreds at least that match or exceed Brooke( I am in the industry and never heard of her, seen her on any pollstar or radio add sheets..sorry). I think you take it I hate these new outlets. I do not. I just call them for what they are, they are making millions of dollars a year off of the hard work, finished products of bands that make as stated barley enough to equate to one car payment for a years worth of the artists sales. They make their money by sheer volume, and for every Dolly Parton they have, they have 100,000 garage bands that will sell 100 or 500 copies that add to theri coffer, while they do no more to really give a chance to the band than throwing theri music up around the internet with a song and a prayer that someone will stumble across them and buy them. They depend on the fans core group who would have bought the bands music at shows or from a website to buy the X factor number and put the money in their pockets. That is teh music BUSINESS just like it was 10 years ago, only they made artist think you really now have a level playing feild with the majors, which unless you have PR, a great management team,a publicist that has a proven track record ( figure $3,000 to $5,000 a month), a major talent broker that beleives in you ( Because you have no label leverage to use their top selling artists to promote or place your band on a major or better tour) then for all the good will in the world you are wishing upon a star. I hope your dreams come true, but the realistic odds of that happening are slim to none. I have yet to see one band really come out of the digital age to rival sales, money and mainstream buy in that bands of the major lables of the 70’s,80’s, or 90’s did, heck even the Fray and others are because of majors. Even NIN and Radiohead had the major push to get where they went in digital. I think we just need to be honest to bands and artist too, don’t you?

  6. How could you possibly speak for 99% of the industry? (btw, it’s not the only “prove you wrong”, merely an example).
    I agree with you that honesty is key. I understand your perspective, but honestly, it’s a pretty harsh interpretation. These companies are not out to get you, or anyone else. They sign, market, promote, and showcase acts that they believe in. They manage assets for content owners who want to spend their time doing other things(like touring or promoting their acts.
    As far as my dreams are concerned, well, I’m living a part of it as a result of much hard work and perseverance. The other part will come with more hard work and perseverance. Nothing has ever been handed to artists, however artist empowerment is stronger than ever. I think these companies (like INgrooves) have a lot to do with that.

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