May 13, 2004

Magnatune: We're Not Evil
(Originally aired 5th Jan 2004)

Anyone whose a musician (and not a member of Jet) may find the following depressingly familiar…

A couple of years ago, John Buckman’s wife signed to a indie label, recorded a CD and released it into the marketplace. Ultimately, 1000 copies of the CD were sold, but all she received in royalties was a paltry $137 (1% of the price of the CDs)… And this was from an artist-friendly label who gave her a 70/30 split of all profits!
So where did all the money go? Well… “The label got screwed at every turn: distributors refused to carry their CDs unless they spent thousands on useless print ads, record stores demanded graft in order to stock the albums, and in general, all forces colluded to prevent this small, progressive label from succeeding.”

This disheartening experience spurred John to set up Magnatune, an online mp3 label dedicated to ensuring that artists actually get a fair share of the money that comes from music sales… 50% of it to be exact, and the artists keep the rights to their music. In addition, Magnatune have adopted a novel approach to pricing; giving you the option of paying anywhere between US$5 and US$12 for an album ($8 is recommended but generosity is encouraged for the artists’ sake.)
The music itself spans a wide variety of genres; anything from Renaissance and Indian classical, to electronica, punk and metal. And its all available under an “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike” Creative Commons license. This means you're welcome to use it in any non-commercial works of your own.

All things considered, its hard not to concur with Mr Buckman when he declares, “We’re a record label. But we’re not evil.”

(FOOTNOTE: Compare this with the activities of the big record companies, who were recently ordered by a New York court to pay $50 million worth of royalties which they had been keeping from many of their artists. The companies’ excuse for not handing over this money was that the artists were too difficult to find… Some of these difficult to find artists included Sean “P Diddy” Combs, Gloria Estefan and Dolly Parton…)

Posted by Warren at May 13, 2004 05:46 PM | Net Labels