/// Google Music’s Artist Hub Asks Artists to Bring the Wheel and Inflate It, Too
When Google Music launched last week , much of the attention focused on the “Artist Hub” feature that allows unsigned bands to create a profile and sell music direct to fans. Okay … And? This is a nice “+” in Google terms, but it’s not earthshaking. There are three players here — the artist, the middleman and Google. The artist now has a chance to sell direct to fans on Google Music and keep 70 percent of retail. This would be unprecedented only if Amazon MP3 didn’t already offer this via their CreateSpace entity, and if TuneCore and about a dozen other services didn’t offer this already, via their own platforms for iTunes and other digital music retailers. All cost $25 or more upfront, which means an artist needs to sell between 37-75 songs at 99 cents retail to recoup — except for Amazon, which is free. It’s important to distinguish here between signed and unsigned artists. Nothing about Google Music’s launch voids existing signed recording contracts. Lady Gaga or Adele can’t void their recording contracts and sell direct via Google Music; neither can your favorite indie band that has its own (indie) label deal, like Barsuk. Lots of folks are going on about major label payouts ($0.08-$0.14 per download, vs. $0.70 direct from retailers), as if all artists will benefit. But signed artists have no out — on iTunes, Amazon or Google. So what about the “unsigned”? They fall into two categories — the “unencumbered,” like NIN and Pomplamoose, who have demand, options and the ability to use their music as they choose. The other group are the “unsupported.” It doesn’t matter who I name, you won’t have heard of them.
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