Magnatune an Open Choice, iTunes an Expensive Choice
“This is very exciting news about Magnatune. This is precisely the kind of innovation that will solve the current crisis in music.”—Lawrence Lessig, founder and chairman of Creative Commons
Besides joining the Second Life community and starting the Open Music Project, Magnatune now has a MySpace site with more than 1,300 friends. Another on-line community site Magnatune uses for advertising and marketing is YouTube. Yes, Magnatune has a YouTube page that has, at the time of this writing, 17 videos that include information on Magnatune. And, you can watch and listen to artists from Magnatune on YouTube, over and over again, without having to purchase or pay a royalty to watch the video. Because those free services are used for marketing, the company and artists save money that they would normally need for getting their names and labels out to the public. You also can be a part of the Magnatune's marketing team by requesting free recruiting cards or printing Magnatune mini-posters and handing them out.
Magnatune's founder John Buckman's idea was to target people who listen to music in the background while they do other work (while writing this article, I'm listening to Rocket City Riot, Last Of The Pleasure Seekers from Magnatune) or music that gets little radio airplay or major record distribution, but that has a fairly large audience. Targeting those audiences is what keeps Magnatune's business going in the long run.
One of the biggest ways Magnatune stays in business is the commercial licensing it offers for the music it sells. It allows the music to be used in films and television, on the Internet and for presentations. And, the license contracts are royalty-free, meaning you don't have to pay more if a project is successful. The license and the cost to use the music depend on the project. Magnatune gives you a price quote in a matter of seconds from the site, and the prices are a lot better than other commercial licensing fees and are 30% lower than industry standard.
Music is not the only way Magnatune makes money. It sells other merchandise, such as posters, clothing and mugs. As with the albums, 50% of those sales go to the artist.
Magnatune does not just support open source, it also runs on it. Its servers run Linux with the most widely available HTTP server on the Internet—Apache 2 supporting and using PHP and OpenSSL. Magnatune uses a MySQL database to store and log purchase information, and it's also used for searches on the main site, such as for an artist or track. When the search is done, a Perl script creates the track listings and playlists so transactions can be made.
So, if you're an open-source advocate and like to listen to music that's not mainstream while supporting artists instead of putting money in the label companies' pockets, visit Magnatune's Web site and sign up for the free song of the day and maybe buy some albums while you're there. And, if you're an artist, Magnatune is just the place to check out, especially if want to get your feet wet in the music industry. Magnatune is there to help artists reach audiences and receive a profit (note that albums must have at least 40 minutes of music). Then, you can listen to your album on Amarok's open-source media player while making an average of $1,500 US (according to Magnatune) if your album is accepted. So let's forget about iTunes and make the migration to a community-based project with a great business model.
Magnatune's Main Site: www.magnatune.com
Magnatune in Second Life: www.magnatune.com/info/second_life
Magnatune's Open Music Section: www.magnatune.com/info/openmusic
Magnatune's MySpace Site: myspace.com/magnatune
Creative Commons: creativecommons.org
Second Life's Main Site: secondlife.com
James Lees currently is a Web site developer, and he's about to go to college in Network Engineering. He's also a computer hobbyist and die-hard Linux user who wants to help promote freeware and open-source software. And, let's not forget, he's also a longtime Linux Journal reader.
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