Billboard & MySpace Want Musicians To Pay $100 To Become “Dreamseekers”

image from www.hiphopbiz.com (UPDATED) For decades Billboard has been a must-read source for the music industry. Now, the narrowing influence of the major labels along with the growth of the independent sector and alternative media outlets like this one, have left the once venerable trade struggling to find its place.

Next month, Billboard in partnership with MySpace Music hopes to turn the tide with a new "Dreamseekers" subscription service for unsigned artists designed to help them get discovered. Unfortunately, at least as described by Billboard's publisher in a WSJ interview,  the plan sounds a bit like those "We'll Make You A Star" ads that run in the classified section of every music magazine.

For about  $100 a year, artists can join Dreamseekers, upload music and track activity on social networks and blogs along with radio airplay and sales. The results will be combined into a Dreamseekers chart published in Billboard. (There's no word yet if aspiring Dreamseekers will have to also pay the $299 that Billboard charges for a subscription to actually see themselves on the new chart.)

Exactly what role MySpace Music will play other than as a promotional partner is unclear. But the social networker still delivers millions of page views and since the same struggling major labels own part of MySpace Music, perhaps they'll use Dreamseelers to scout talent.

Of course, Dreamseekers will not launch as the only company offering combined analytics for musicians.  Big Champagne launched its Ultimate Chart recently and companies like Next Big Sound are offering what they call "actionable intelligence" drawn from a variety of sources.

Revenue & Subscribers Falling

But Billboard certainly needed to do something. Operating income in the magazine group that includes Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter and related publications fell 62% to $34 million in three quarters of 2009; and Billboard's circulation fell from 33,000 in 2000 to just 21,385 when it was last audited in 2007. Subscriptions have probably fallen further since.

"You've had a contracting (music) industry," says Richard Beckman, the CEO of Billboard's parent publisher E5. "But you have an expanding interest in its subject matter. We want to make sure we're providing a product that is not just the book of record for the industry, but something that is of great interest to the people who love music."

What do you think?

Should an artist pay $100 to become a Dreamseeker?

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  1. Not ever. There are plenty of free, and cheaper, ways in which an artist can market their own music throughout the internet. There is nothing more viral than the internet itself, take a look at Justin Bieber (YouTube). Now he is one of the top selling artists in America, God help us.
    Also, tracking analytics has become a focus for many new start-up companies in the indie music world. FanBridge (http://www.fanbridge.com/), a fan list e-mail service, tracks activity of your fans’ response to e-mail blasts for FREE.
    Not only is there no competitive advantage to reading Billboard, it is too expensive, and it is geared strictly towards the same model that crashed this industry in the first place.

  2. This Billboard/Myspace ploy is no different from most music internet companies out there. Upsell is how they make money. From
    Spotify – streaming companies selling premium subscriptions.
    CDbaby – get them in the door, upsell them cd, dvd, merch, etc.
    Tunecore – get them in the door, upsell a bunch of crap.
    The sad part is? Well, DIY artists are being taken advantage of and lied to about what’s important.

  3. I don’t get it.
    For one thing, WHO is actually going to check out the “Dreamseekers” to make their dreams come true? You mean industry folks are now gonna start checking out indie artists? If they didn’t before, what’s different now?
    Billboard has never really done anything substantial for DIY artists (except sell us magazines), and I don’t see the benefit here. DIY musicians have many other online resources available – many of them are free – that have more to offer than the promise of being discovered in Billboard.
    And how relevant is MySpace these days anyway?
    It takes more than simply creating good music for people to find you, and I doubt that having an account on yet one more online service is going to make a difference.
    I can think of plenty other ways to spend that $100 that will actually produce a result. Save your money.

  4. @Drew – You are absolutely right: “Not only is there no competitive advantage to reading Billboard, it is too expensive, and it is geared strictly towards the same model that crashed this industry in the first place.”
    You took the words right out of my mouth – Amen!

  5. Fanbridge’s basic plan lets musicians send up to 400 messages a month for free. Most of the bands I work with started with MUCH less than that.
    If you/your band has more than 400 fans who’ve given you permission to email them, then upgrading to their pro plan is an excellent investment.

  6. seeking ones dream is free. why should anyone pay? especially pay two sick dinosaurs like billboard and myspace? just another scam perpetrated on the struggling diy artists. i think the bigger announcement today is band camps’ flip on the free download limit. you’ve got to be kidding me. talk about flipping the freemium switch a bit too soon.

  7. $399 to see a selectively competitive chart position on Billboard?
    If Billboard readers are dwindling why would artists be so desperate to be involved? I personally think it won’t happen. Mainly because we are cheap.
    Maybe 2 years ago when Myspace was at its peak, bands would be tempted to use this to clamber up the success ladder.

  8. Great idea Andy! I’ll set musicians up with a WordPress website (so you can make your own edits), free theme and add a sign up form for collecting fans email addresses for $100. Or I’ll show you how to do it yourself.
    You just buy the domain name, hosting and autoresponder (or use 3rd party ones like Google docs).

  9. Thanks Billboard & MySpace. I found my Dream decades ago. But just to show there are o hard feelings, for just $5k, you can join my ClueSeekers network.

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