Esnips: Easy mp3 Upload ‘n Embed ‘n Optimize

esnips

Ever had a song on your desktop you wanted to upload online and share it with friends or readers? Then you probably found out like me that most Web-widget creation Websites won’t let you do that (namely Clearspring, Kickapps, Widgetbox). Enters Esnips. Once you sign up for free to the service, you can start uploading mp3s straight to Esnips’ servers (with a Twitter auto-sharing feature) and use their library of music players to embed your mp3 almost anywhere:

UPDATE: Widget doesn’t work any more

I should stop there since it is that simple to upload and share music, but Esnips offers other social networking features that make the site very interesting: First, all mp3s are uploaded into folders. Users can customize folders to add some graphic design around their music files. Each folder comes with a custom url. Mine is http://fb.esnips.com/web/exaakaxsStuff. Folders can be set on private. There is an RSS feed for each folders, so anyone can track a folder’s new upload. Esnips’ user experience is so folder-centric that users can even record a video (or audio voice) to guide visitors through each folder!

The most original aspect of Esnips is the blogging tool. Users can write a blog that is attached to their profiles, just like on Myspace, but Esnips has a special feature that makes blogging much more fit for musicians:

esnips addpost

On this interface, musicians have a direct access to their library of music. Music files can be added to the post in 1 click. Pretty ingenious! Youtube and Blogger should develop a similar lab product. Now think about the publishing options Esnips offers: RSS, keywords, metadata, data, widget’s backlinking… It’s the whole SEO package for musicians to optimize their media files online. The service is entirely free as of today, but if Esnips successfully grows a significant community, then adding pro features would be blatantly obvious. The unique weakness I found was the mp3 players and folders’ graphic designs available: Too cartoony!

Popcuts: Buying Music Has Never Been So Profitable

Popcuts

Popcuts
This morning, I received an email alert from Popcuts:

someone bought a song you already own on Popcuts. And now, your account balance is $1.05: High enough so you can buy some more music.

Nice, I have been checking out my Popcuts’ profile once in a while to see if I could afford buying new sounds, but this alert comes in really handy for the kind of consumer I am.

Popcuts (a Y Combinator startup we first covered back in September) is the Website where buyers get monetary rewards if the songs they buy is sold again after their purchase. The idea is to give back to trend setters who usually go through a lot to promote the music they love.

Of course, this is the first company who launches this type of revenue-sharing model, so it’s all a big test so far. So for the curious ones, here are my stats on Popcuts since I signed up about 6 months ago:<

  • I own 26 songs
  • I made an initial payment of $20
  • 295 people bought music following my purchase
  • I have earned a total of $6.79
  • I have an available balance of $1.05
  • I follow 12 people
  • I have 2 followers (who get alerts when I buy a song)

This is really not bad, considering that if I had made those purchases on iTunes, I would not have any money left. With Popcuts, once you start buying songs, you come back again and again to the site to see how your ‘sales’ are doing. Obviously, unless you are THE trendsetter, Popcuts is not a place to make huge profits, it is not the eBay of music. But the model is very interesting, and if I remember correctly, the company’s ambition is to develop a rev-share technology that could be applied beyond the music sphere. If, for the price of 20 songs, I get 26 songs, then I am not afraid to say that, so far, the Popcuts system works.

Shall The Music Industry Be All About Free Distribution? @jamendo

jamendo

On October 2nd, 2000, the popular P2P software company Napster was accused and sentenced for:

engaging in, or facilitating others in copying, downloading, uploading, transmitting, or distributing plaintiffs’ copyrighted musical compositions and sound recordings, protected by either federal or state law, without express permission of the rights owner.

By outlawing P2P file-sharing providers, music labels thought they were putting an end to anarchic uncontrolled distribution channel, to impose their own traditional distribution models online. At the time of the trial, 10,000 music files were downloaded every second (and growing due to the publicity of the trial). Today the new Napster is Pirate Bay: Pirate Bay’s twist is that it only tracks torrents, but you need a separate software, like BitTorrent, to download the files you find. Even though the Sweden-based torrent-tracking startup is being prosecuted for maliciously enabling illegal downloads, the illegal nature of their activity is more nuanced today than it was a few years back with Napster.

Back to Napster: the P2P phenomenon was definitely a threat for distributed artists, but it was also the greatest opportunity ever for independent artists to put their music out there, and make a name for themselves. Before Napster, music artists’ only choice was to play in small venues and sell burned CDs from the trunk of their Honda. With the viral growth of P2P sharing, a free distribution channel was born for the indie music community. Today, through P2P, independent artists are even becoming a threat to the majors’ artists popularity.

Unfortunately, being freely distributed on torrents doesn’t bring the chicken home. Along with the boom of P2P sharing came two major problems for indie artists:

  1. How to protect their work?
  2. How to monetize their work?

Protecting artistic creations has been enabled thanks to Lawrence Lessig and the Creative Commons licenses. These licenses allow creators to easily communicate which rights they reserve, and which rights they waive for the benefit of other creators. Monetization is another problem that remains to be fixed. Here on HyveUp, I covered Zivity, a professional photo-sharing site where fans’ votes are actually $1 donations to their favorite artists. The donation creates a tie between the artist and its fanbase, and their relationship can extend through email newsletters and regular blogging. Zivity is an experiment that intends to find a model for artists to live of their work.

Another interesting startup covered on HyveUp is Popcuts. Popcuts is a music store where buyers get a share of the sales on each songs they previously bought. This motivates people to spend, because the ROI could be even higher than the initial investment. Same here, this model is being experimented as we speak, so no conclusions can be drawn yet.

The music site Jamendo is yet another model for artists to monetize their work. Well, not exactly. As of today, Jamendo is a great place to distribute your music online. Once you upload your music to Jamendo, you get to share it with a vibrant community of four hundred thousand users (the userbase is for the most part European). The music on Jamendo is protected by Common Creative licenses, which means it is free to share and download. Jamendo gathers 15,000 albums and generates about 2 million unique visits a month (35,000 in the US). Last year, they received VC fundings and planned to expand their reach to more countries.

Artists can generate money through a donation program, as well as a revenue-sharing program the site has set up (see FAQs). The bigger picture is here: In France (Jamendo is based in Luxembourg), all music copyrights are managed by the SACEM, the public institution that controls music distribution and collects royalties (similar to ASCAP for example). Jamendo aims to become the new SACEM, by offering similar services, but better adapted to the world of online music distribution.

For the time being, Jamendo distributes artists’ music on their platform, as well as through torrents (including Pirate Bay). To compete against the SACEM is the company’s project to create new distribution channels, as well as new revenue opportunities for artists. Being a free music distribution channel is no holiday though. In the US, Pandora complained about the heavy fees Web radios are facing:

[…] its royalty fees this year will amount to 70 percent of its projected revenue of $25 million, Westergren said, a level that could doom it and other Web radio outfits. (from the Washington Post)

Pandora and Jamendo do not source their music the same way. However, Pandora was shot in the back because it was competing with traditional radios. By frontally competing with a public institution, Jamendo could also experience some undesired backfires.

Promotional Film Distribution Through Your Facebook Profile

facebook music

Facebook is releasing Film On Facebook, a new app for film makers (collaterally to launching Music on Facebook). This new app will help Facebook compete more aggressively against Myspace which was originally built for music creators to promote themselves online and which has become a top performer in video advertising. The app seems to perfectly cater to film-makers promotional needs.

As Kristen Nicole writes in Mashable:

One thing Facebook has managed to do much better than most web-based social utilities is disperse information. So any updates a promotional film page has on Facebook, they’ll at least know that the majority of users are pretty much always in the know.

She’s got that right. Facebook is about connections, so the smart approach that Facebook adopts is to connect people and products/brands (films and music are no exception anymore).

Nick O’Neil from Allfacebook provides extra info and ideas about the new release. First Facebook has partnered with MusicToday, LLC to enable artists to distribute their music through the app. Then, Nick is convinced that film and music pages will become full components of profile pages… Very shortly.

If so, that’s a huge step for online movie promotion. The Film on Facebook app will allow Facebook to sell incredibly powerful channels for the viral distribution of promotional videos to main movie distributors. In addition, movie distributors will definitely get a better “profile” of their consumers online.