The headline in this case is slightly misleading. The Presidents of The United States of America (remember Lump, anyone?) are giving you access to four Presidents’ albums (all the ones the band owns the rights too), plus rarities and b-sides. The key word there is “access,” because while you can listen to the songs as much as you’d like, they’re streamed via an iPhone/iPod touch app, not physical MP3 files that you could actually add to your iTunes library.
The app is the brainchild of Dave Dederer, onetime singer and guitarist for the Presidents, who now acts as VP of Business Development for Melodeo, a company that deals specifically in software designed to stream iTunes content to other sources. In an industry that needs to look more and more at alternative content delivery methods, Dederer may be on to something. A $3 investment is probably going to attract a lot more attention than a 99-cent single track, since it gives interested customers the chance to sample a wide selection of a band’s work before making the decision to buy a full album or a number of tracks for more flexible use via their iTunes library.
For most other bands, this sort of thing is a problem, because they don’t usually own their own distribution and copyrights. That’s why Dederer is currently in talks with indie labels to release similar apps that cover entire stables of artists, thereby lessening the number of steps required in order to get legal permission to reproduce the tracks.
I am very much in favor of this new model. I prefer the idea of getting similarly grouped artists (by label, by genre, etc.) to go in together on an app like this, because then it becomes a sort of digital jukebox or focused Internet radio channel that you can have with you wherever you have cellular reception. At the same time, from an artist/label’s perspective, they’re getting great exposure with a growing market of people who tend to have disposable income and spend some on music. The Presidents’ app even has “Buy” links that redirect users to the iTunes purchase page so they can directly add tracks to their library.
It’s such a good idea, in fact, that I hope it catches on with other media. Imagine how great an NBC app would be that works along the same lines, providing the same full episodes they have on their site for streaming via iPhone on a dedicated app. They could include their commercials, and again, provide buy links that lead to their iTunes store.
What do you think, is this kind of delivery something you’d be interested in? For music, video, or both? Do you think it’s a realistic possiblity that the big networks will ever come on board?