There’s been a lot of talk lately about whether unlimited music services devalue music by underpaying the people who make the songs that makes them worthwhile in the first place. Rdio has a novel solution, which admittedly won’t save the music industry, but which does offer artists a new way to make money: by turning their fans on to the unlimited music service.
For each fresh listener that an artist sends to Rdio for free, full-length tracks who then converts to a paid subscription, Rdio will pay the artist $10 as part of its new Rdio Artist Program. For bands with a few hundred devotees to megastars with Twitter counts in the millions, this first-of-its-kind subscription bounty offers artists a new way to get paid for recommending music, whether recorded by them or someone else.
”It’s a win-win for everybody,” Rdio CEO Drew Lerner told Evolver.fm. “Artists are getting paid additional money to build a fanbase on Rdio, which means they’re driving more subscriptions to Rdio, which means they’re getting paid more, the publishers are getting paid more, and the labels are getting paid more.”
So, what if a fan of Snoop Lion (formerly Snoop Dogg) clizzles a twizzle from their favorite rapper-turned-reggae star? If that fan is based in the U.S., all they have to do is sign up for the free version of Rdio, which can be as easy as logging in with Facebook Connect, and they’ll be able to start streaming full-length tracks. If they then choose to subscribe, Snoop gets ten dizzles.
“Up-and-coming artists are the future — they’re the lifeblood of the industry,” said Snoop Lion in a statement. “I love that any new artist can take advantage of this program. I’m a fan of Rdio already and it’s cool to see them supporting artists like this.”
To participate, an artist need only distribute their music through Rdio then share these special links. As for fans, they can follow the links from Twitter, Facebook, or the web. Fans in the U.S. can play an unspecified amount of music each month, after which the free, ad-free music stops and they have the option to subscribe.
This can only be good for artists, due to the simple math of $10 > $0. However, there’s a bigger picture here. Rdio hopes that by recruiting the recording artist community to encourage their fans to try Rdio, it will grow the proverbial pie by turning many more millions of fans into subscribers.
“I’m not saying this is the silver bullet,” said Larner when we asked if this move would save the entire recorded music industry. “But what it does address, and it’s something that I think is really important, is this issue about artists not getting paid for streaming services has been in the news… and we sort of formulated this in response to that. I don’t necessarily think that’s about royalty rates or how much the retail price is — it’s really about scale.
“When you look att all the streaming services together, it’s not at the scale that it really needs to be to make it impactful across the board for artists’ revenue. You add everybody up and it’s 10 million subs, maybe 11 million subs, which you compare to Sirius XM which alone has 25 million subs. That’s where it’s got to go, and we think this can help move it in that direction. An artist will get paid directly by helping us get to scale.”
In other words, artists stand to get paid twice — once for delivering subscribers and again whenever people listen to their music on Rdio. And he’s right: It’s too early to call subscription music unfair, or fair, for that matter, until it hits a larger scale. The new Rdio Artist Program can only help in that regard.
Participating artists will receive access to a web-based tool to manage their Artist Program account. Benefits include:
- 10 USD for every new subscriber brought to the service (for at least one month)
- Real-time referral stats on visitors and subscribers
- Rdio artist page customization options
- Tools for trackable link creation and embeddable players for any Rdio music content
- Access to tips, help documentation and Rdio support