Their homepage is clear. No DRM, no digital stuff to protect the eventual author’s rights. And to be more digital-sustainable, all the music is compatible with every iPod, Mp3 player or electronic gadget available on the market, that are now testing the patience of new and old generations.
These are just some of the characteristics of a new both ambitious and pioneer project from the attitude side and professional from the realization one. We’re talking about BeatPick, a young London net label (created and managed by Italians) that boast in its rich artist rooster players such as Tobor Experiment, Groove Generator, FRD, Double6, Synthead and many others who had the possibility to get known and appreciated inside the lively world of independent net music made of mailing list and poadcast, net label and shared audio project (see the website for the entire list, from rock to jazz, to electronic, to experimental, from dance to hardcore, from downtempo to hip-hop).
So BeatPick is a net label, a reality made of a strict budget, which diffuses and distributes free music on line, to use the Net as an instrument of promotion and resounding chamber to spread as far as possible and in the most economic way the music of their own artist. Since now though, nothing new. At least for every person informed about the fact that nowadays music (and of course the tomorrow one) is not only CD and DVD, file sharing and battles on legal rights.
For example the possibility to buy directly the reproduction rights of a track in function of the type of license and the commercial use needed (vast the variety of licences and the simplicity of purchase; see http://www.beatpick.com/licence.php?cPath=23&products_id=50 ). There’s the possibility of commission music and projects to the artists of the label and the option to listen to the tracks before purchase. Soon other BeatPick versions will be opened, first of all a Chinese one. There are some projects in collaboration with satellite TV’s, radio and international poadcast like the Digipod ( www.digicult.it/podcast ) that can lead to interesting develop.
Even the relationship between labeller and artists is rare and up to date. No binding contract, the possibility to sever a link in 30 days, division 50/50 of the gain, the possibility to diffuse your own music in a professional and aimed way through specific channels. We talked about all this with David, one of the founder members of BeatPick, to demonstrate how to put into practice a correct and modern net label, able to satisfy the exigencies of a new generation of music addicted but also able to defend rights and necessities of the artists.
Marco Mancuso: Can you explain how and when the BeatPick project was born?
David: BeatPick.com has been launched the last February as answer of a growing sense of dissatisfaction felt by the music lovers and the artists against the big label. Our aim was, and is, to create a platform where the emergent and affirmed artists can keep the advantages of being independent, but where they can ask for help to a label for the promotion, publication and web technology needed. The idea is to help bands and artists with marketing, purchase of use rights and distribution of album and EP, offering a fair service that doesn’t force to long exclusive contracts.
We also find possible to give confidence to people, so we do not use DRM. We offer the free listening of our albums and we give the permission to copy the purchased music for a reasonable number of time.
Marco Mancuso: Which are your first artists and how did you convinced them of the goodness of your project?
David: We started with 30 artists/bands selected by more than 1000 albums received during the three months precedent the BeatPick.com opening. We had lots of contacts in the music business, so it wasn’t hard to attract the attention of independent musician. Moreover we created a site with tons of information about what we do, so when we receive a contact most of the time they’re already convinced to adhere to our initiative.
Marco Mancuso: What does found and open a net label means, which are the pro and con against traditional label?
David: A net label means lots of work. We’re a little team and we work almost twelve hours a day and often during the weekends. We have to be efficient, answer in as less time as possible to the e-mails, most of all in the area of film and TV rights.
The artists in BeatPick.com have a platform to their disposal where they can digitally distribute their music and sell their rights of use. Our artists also have online publicity, online viral advertising and poadcast, more that the possibility to collaborate on new projects. Our artists receive the 50% of the profit and the expenses are our charge. On the contrary in a traditional record label they would receive only a little percentage of the profit and only when the expenses are covered. In a traditional record label, the artists are tied down with long exclusive contracts, while in BeatPick.com they sign a non-exclusive contract that can end whenever they decide it.
In the area of the buying and selling of the use rights we cut off the intermediaries, the publisher and the advocates that make thin the artist gain. We create a friendlier procedure, simple, automatic and transparent. It only takes a few minutes to buy the rights to use the music for TV and movies. The music can be tested free before the project becomes commercial and the productions can request the entire catalogue. It is possible commission works and we help with the looping and cutting of the tracks. This way we attract professionals, art houses, little and middle productions and we give a true gain to the artists.
We encourage the free use of our music for non-commercial projects and poadcasting. We think that everything that can put our music inside projects can one day increase our sales.
Marco Mancuso: I think it’s the correct approach. Which are the potentialities and advantages of the Net and the incoming of faster and faster lines?
David: All our business is set knowing that the Net and the lines are exponentially faster. On broadband we offer a variety of large files, WAV format included. Moreover there’s the streaming of entire albums mp3 128Kb format more than a buying and selling of rights completely online. All this things couldn’t be even thought with the 56kb or the first broadband.
Marco Mancuso: How are your partnerships moving, online and not?
David: We spend many hours every day to patrol the Net for people or organizations that we like work with. We get in contact to see if there are opportunities for both the parts. Since months, we’re receiving partnership proposes by agents involved in the sale of use rights, by websites that do music reviews and several academies of film and universities.
Marco Mancuso: How do you move inside the complex world of online music? Your contents are free, under Creative Commons licences. How do you think to make a business with your project and how do you think to manage in this sense your artists?
David: Our model is innovative as it is not only equal but also economically long term sustainable. The real turning point is to create a system equal for all the participant to the music business but also profitable for the artists.
The idea is to create a model comparable to the shareware software business. Make a base product and then gain with better version. So our mp3s 128Kb are free to listen, but the high quality versions you have to pay for. The using right for the music is for free when the project is a non-commercial one and for the poadcasting, but you have to pay when there’s a commercial side. This way we have the exact equilibrium between viral publicity and product purchase. The deceit of the international labels is make people believe that the system used with the stars is the correct one with everybody. The music business has different segments that have different exigencies.
Marco Mancuso: Which are your projects for the future?
David: We would like to collaborate with audiovisual artists, creating a pool of resources where the artists from different areas can work together without even knowing each other. Moreover, we’d like to offer to our public the single parts of our songs to create a basin of high quality samples that can be used in several ways.
Marco Mancuso: What will be the future of the online music and how will the net labels, poadcast and online radio phenomenon grow?
David: Internet is the present and the future of the musical distribution. In a few years vinyl and CD will be a niche product, with the majority that will download the music. This process will democratize the music industry and will contrast the monopoly of the big labels. We believe that the music industry is changing better. An artist can now decide to be independent and have its music recorded, produced, published, distributed and publicized without the consulting of an advocate or a representative of a label. This is a step towards a better efficiency and equity in the music market.
We’re assisting to an augmentation of the competitiveness and diversity that can damage the way of the big label run the business. We foresee that the music majors, the publishers and the collecting society such as the SIAE will have to adapt their business to serve only the star market. A large percentage of artists will be served by labels similar to BeatPick.com and play a role more and more important in the music industry, with stars that will maybe decide not to sign for a major.
We also foresee scenery where artists from all over the world will work together through online platforms. And it is not hard to imagine a future where people will form band without meeting!.