Artists are always thinking of different, more creative ways of getting at dough now that no one really buys music, anymore. You check some of these artists’ first week sells and it’s startling. Outside of Justin Timberlake, no one really is destroying it on the Billboard Top 200 charts. Kid Cudi debuted Indicud at No. 2, but only sold 140,000 copies. That album won’t even go gold this year. Shoot, Michael Jackson could drop Thriller in 2013 and struggle to go multi-platinum. None of this is news, least of all to the artists. So they’re on missions to diversify and technology – consistently in hyper evolution – is the tool of choice.
The new jam is this app Spacebar, created by Geregory Miller, one of the co-founders of Google.org.
“I wish I could have gone to that concert” is a common refrain amongst music fans. Spacebar can’t teleport you to the venue, but it can stream the audio to your mobile device so you can listen along for a dollar or two. Launching today at TechCrunch Disrupt NY with 15 local clubs and musicians like Kanye West on board, Spacebar’s app could give bands a new revenue stream they desperately need.
The idea with Spacebar is to let artists earn more money off of what they’re already doing — playing concerts. Musicians sign up with Spacebar’s iOS app, connect their mobile device to the soundboard at their concert, and stream the show in real-time to their fans. They can give the show away for free, or offer free five-minute previews before asking listeners to pay one or a few dollars. Spacebar has a partnership with Lady Gaga’s management label, and Kanye West and John Legend are signed up to stream shows this year as well. Their clout could help Spacebar surpass more established but clumsier competitors.
Remember back when ringtone royalties were making artists rich? T-Pain got super-duper paid because teenagers wanted “I’m Sprung” to play when their phones rang, and I guess it was essential for them to serenade the public soundspace with “Buy U a Drank” every time a text message came in. Thankfully for us – but unfortunate for artists – only a select few nimrods still purchase ringtones. That’s like six-to-seven figures some artists don’t see anymore.
Spacebar seems to be a natural (and sustainable) new option for the hardworking artists that tour (touring is the major way artists get paid) all the time and have developed a loyal fanbase. Some dude in Chattanooga may never get a chance to see/hear Vampire Weekend or Joey Bada$$ shut it down live; except, maybe eventually he can. If the artists pad their pockets a little bit in the process, then we all win.