Indie Music Creates Subscription Revenue Stream for Indie Labels

Dripfm-logoI spoke yesterday with the founders of, the platform that's powering Stones Throw Records' new digital subscription service. Sam Valenti IV, who founded Ghostly International, and Miguel Senquiz, Ghostly's head of product development and digital strategy, created as music fans who run their own label. Now they're gradually opening to other labels to feed superfans with an ongoing stream of digital releases.

Ghostly-logoSam Valenti IV founded Ghostly International while a student at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor in 1999. College buddy and programmer Miguel Senquiz also came on board and helped build a unique arts company that is not only the home of two labels, Ghostly and Spectral, but has:

"grown from a boutique label known for its experimental-pop and -techno acumen to an internationally recognized platform for the work of the world's best visual artists, designers, technologists, and musicians."

Unfortunately I have to skip a lot of interesting history here but both men combine deep roots in vinyl and dj culture mixed with the digital awareness of early Napster users. That combination gives them an understanding of the web allied with the belief that artists and labels need to get paid. Like the folks at Stones Throw Records, the label that has brought a great deal of attention to their new service, they understand that great art can be allied with good business. came about as an answer to their frustation with trying to patch together multiple services to serve fans online. They started thinking it through around 5 years ago when they were faced with their customers' desire to be able to give them their credit card info once rather than with each PayPal purchase. The process of figuring out a soution with which they were happy ultimately led to the creation of a platform for digital subscription services that initially delivered every new Ghostly and Spectral release via email.

Subscribers can download releases as WAV or MP3 files or stream the music as long as their subscription stays current. Not only do they get new releases but they also get exclusive tracks as well as discounts on Ghostly Store purchases.

This model was first extended to dirtybird records late last year and then more recently to Stones Throw Records. Though each label is free to make different choices, subscriptions currently run from $10 to $15 bucks and superfans are the target population.

It's a great approach to feeding superfans in a consistent, easy manner. The service is free to labels who set pricing and decide what to offer. makes its money from a revenue share. Labels are paid on a monthly basis and the service is intended to create a consistent revenue stream. is gradually inviting labels that they feel fit the model which wouldn't work for all labels. It's really the kind of service for indies that have a strong following with an interest in what the label is doing across the board. Stones Throw is an excellent example of a label that has long demonstrated such a relationship with fans and both founders are honored that they came on board.

If you want your label to be notified when they open up more widely, you can submit your email address on the homepage.

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Hypebot Features Writer Clyde Smith maintains his freelance writing hub at Flux Research and music industry resources at Music Biz Blogs. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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  1. I’d love to see results from these. The idea is great on paper but never pans out, everyone I know who has tried a variation of this has felt it wasn’t worth the time it took to invest in it.
    I have a healthy skepticism in the model but would love to be proved wrong.

  2. I guess it also depends on who “everyone I know who has tried a variation of this” happens to be.
    It actually makes more sense to me than a lot of current efforts I’m seeing. Not because subscriptions are a new idea, since they’re not, but because of the focus of on labels like Stones Throw that have a cult following and my perception that they actually know what they’re doing on the tech end.

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