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March 7, 2007

Free Barenaked Ladies

I couldn’t resist stealing much of the title from Michael Arrington’s Barenaked Ladies: New Album. Free. No DRM. Now.

I’ve been writing about the Amie Street music site since their launch last July. Their model has the potential to disrupt the music industry from the bottom up: Bands and labels upload music, which is downloadable in DRM-free MP3 format. The price always starts at free, and as more people download the song, the price starts to rise, eventually hitting $.98. Higher priced songs are by definition more popular, and I’ve found that anything over $.50 or so is pretty good music. 70% of proceeds go to the band/label, and Amie Street keeps the rest.

This pretty clever for two reasons. First, even at $0.98 the price per track is fine compared to iTunes or the Zune Marketplace, particularly since there is no annoying digital rights management to keep you from playing the MP3 wherever you want. From What is Amie Street:

Are there any restrictions on the music I buy from Amie Street? Can I play it on my iPod?

* We have no DRM on our mp3’s, so once you buy them, they’re yours. Put them on your iPod, your computer, a CD you made for road trips, or anything else you can come up with. Come up with something good? Send us a picture. The best we’ve gotten so far is an MP3 playing on a “digital” refrigerator.

The second reason makes a strength out of adversity. The major record labels are deeply mired in DRM, so it will only be the smaller, independent labels that put their music on Amie Street. The novel pricing scheme encourages users to download and try new music from the lesser known groups and labels. It’s a win for them as the good stuff gets discovered quickly and eventually rises to the full $0.98 price.

As for the free Barenaked Ladies I promised, the Barenaked Ladies are a moderately well known group published by the Nettwerk Group who has just agreed to put their whole library on Aime Street. Their latest album, Barenaked Ladies Are Men, was just released on Aime Street, but the tracks aren’t free anymore due to the number of downloads. However as I write this some are still below the $.98 max. Probably not for long though.

Posted at 11:54 am. Filed under Aime Street, Bargains, Companies, Freebies, Internet, Music downloads

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