Welcome To The Opposite Of Freemium – The End Of Free Music

DigitaldesignbgGuest Post by Noel Troy

Do we create too much content? Does the world need a filter? “Every 2 days, the world creates as much content as we did from the beginning of time up until 2003.” ~ Eric Schmidt, Google CEO. When it comes to content, music is king. In the words of music entrepreneur Troy Carter: “Music can sell everything but itself.” Today, art is made to be bludgeoned by adverts.

The Coming Deluge

As content goes, music is much harder to create than say a mere Tweet. Yes, there is a flood of new music, but perhaps the real deluge has yet to come. Music creation is becoming ever easier. In a few years, perhaps every two-bit digital native will have a bevy of songs they’ve mashed up in minutes and instantly shared?

Even now, there are about 200 million songs worldwide compared to about 6 million in the year 2000.  We may have 1 billion songs by the year 2020. And every song that enters the pile devalues the currency of music ever further.

Which begs the question: Can music be devalued below $0.00?

The answer is yes. Someday, music artists may pay people to listen to their songs. After all, some bands already ‘Pay for Play’ to book gigs. Music gridlock and the tyranny of choice: Today’s music discovery platforms are a parking lot, clogged with tens of millions of songs. Every year, about 10 million more songs join the traffic jam. What if 100 million songs entered the parking lot each year?

All artists being equal, the odds of discovery today are 1 in   …insert your 8 digit number here. Of course all artists are not equal. Music discovery platforms are dominated by the stars. The star 5% get 80% of the pie. Therefore, the obscure artist’s odds of discovery are 1 in …insert you 9 digit number here.

Now, let’s return to the main source of today’s music industry crisis: The gross oversupply of music. None of our present platforms (YouTube, Spotify etc.) have any interest in reducing this gridlock; In fact, the tens of millions of songs that clog their platforms are a rich measure of their success. It’s not their problem; it only a problem for lowly starving artists.

15176575-music-magnifying-glass-and-seamless-backgroundLet’s clear the Gridlock…

Not only do we need to clear the gridlock, the resultant open highway simply must form a path to stardom (yes, stardom) and it must be fair. All songs being equal; artists (from the obscure to the rock star) must have equal opportunity of gaining mass appeal.

A Fair & Equal Opportunity of Discovery:

For all songs to be judged equally from the outset, it must come down to the actual music. Strip away the artist name & song title so that when a 60 second clip of bare-bones music is being judged, it comes down to one question: “Does this music grab me, or does it not?”

That’s about as impartial as it gets. And that impartiality is critical to (following many reviews over multiple filter stages) repeatedly distilling out the pinpoint best songs. Right now, isongU.com  employs 20 filter stages which is about as many hoops as musicians will reasonably jump through.

Whatever the number of filters, it is going to take crowds to power these filters and sift out the best songs. Only musicians & fans are great enough in number to unclog millions of songs. But we need to give each and every musician a powerful reason to sift through and find the best music: That reason is Mass Exposure (+ sales) for the pinpoint best songs.

Generating Mass Exposure for the pinpoint best songs: Let’s get down to the business of Mass Exposure.

Each of isongU’s crowd filters acts as a collection toll. If a song wants to go from one filter to the next (on its journey towards Mass Exposure) it must first pay a toll (extra reviews) at each filter. A multitude of songs entering the early filter stages and hell-bent for Mass Exposure thereby generates a huge surplus of reviews: Voila! These surplus reviews provide Mass Exposure for the pinpoint best songs.

By the way, forcing musicians (and their fans) to first give reviews to other artists before receiving reviews in return permanently unites musicians: They are constantly unified because they repeatedly pay it forward.

Will Mass Exposure generate sales?

The final question is; can Mass Exposure generate sales?

Why yes. If a person reviews and falls in love with an anonymous 60 second clip of music (not available elsewhere), they get an option to buy the song. However, the buy button disappears after the 60 second review window closes. And once it closes, the song is gone and gone forever. It’s buy or burst.

Welcome to the opposite of Freemium.

Remember Freemium? You know; the lying promise that free content would generate exposure as well as future sales, but instead fueled social media empires and starved artists.

Musicians, we beg you to forget. Your art is valuable outside of adverts.


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  1. “And every song that enters the pile devalues the currency of music ever further.”
    It need not be so. Look at the television model. There are more shows (not to mention amateur video content) available then ever, yet people are willing to pay for cable ($100 or more a month) as well as subscription services like NetFlix.
    Music industry needs to get wise to this.

  2. I think comparisons to Television are not relevant.
    There are only a few hundred TV shows in competition with each other.
    There are about 200 million songs competing against each other. That the devaluation I speak of.

  3. And I’m pretty sure Kenny never read the article.
    200 million songs act as a roadblock between starving artists & fans.
    There NEEDS to be a filter to 1) Clear the roadblock and 2) Without bias, elevate the best songs.

  4. SmokingMole, the isongU website is just a pre-launch. The real website will appear next month.
    Right now, we place more faith in the mathematics of Mass Exposure for unbiased great music than slick cosmetics.

  5. That’s a pretty wild read. I love the impartiality and fairness of it all. It’s a bit like the Voice where the chairs are turned away from the performers, except here the ‘chairs’ are always faced away. There’s never any bias. I presume we’re taking about original music?
    Anyway, if the filters really do generate exposure for great music and there’s no bias, I don’t see what musicians have to lose. Under the current system, they’ll starve.

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