Atalanta Release gets USA national newspaper reviews
as listed in our press coverage section.
I believe this is one of (if not the) first times major newspapers have reviewer an online-only release purely on musical grounds (ie, not the "interesting only because it's online" story) and the reviews have been glowing. I'm hoping this means that these news outlets will cover future PBO releases on Magnatune as well, treating them as equal to CD releases.
some magnatune statistics
I received a request for a variety of stats today from a journalist, so I thought I'd share some of what I provided to him.
Number of Magnatune artists over time.
In this chart, you can see that we were adding members very aggressively during 11/2003-10/2004, slowed down quite a lot from 10/2004-11/2005 and are back now following the same curve as the trend line, as of 11/2005. Basically, this reflects the initial growth-focus, then a year of energy spent on PR rather the adding musicians (to try to enlarge the pie before slicing it up in smaller pieces with more musicians) and now a renewed focus on artist growth.
CD sales (versus downloads)
Sales of CDs from Magnatune have settled in at around 18% of total sales, and except for the blip to 50% of sales at christmas, as unlikely to grow much. You can see a slight growth, from around 13% of sales a year ago, but this is still a minor part of our business.
People on our email announcement list.
The growth in the number of people in our announcement list continues to be amazingly linear, though we've been in a period of above-trend growth for the past few months.
Licenses Sold Monthly at Magnatune
The number of licenses sold monthly by us is growing steadily. From about 7/2004 to 9/2005 it didn't grow at all, but has been steadily growing since then.
US Senators get free iPods, with some Magnatune music
The Senate-bound iPods project launched this month, and they are using quite a bit of Magnatune music!
The goal of this project is to show US Senators some examples of open content, along with an iPod, in an effort to educate them, that there is life outside of DRM-protected major-label-land.
Ren Bucholz from IPac, who is running the project, approached us back in February for our support, and we've been working closely with them on this. It's a great idea!
They gave iPods to Barbara Boxer, John Kerry, and Trent Lott (the singing Senator) among others.
Read more about the project here:
The list of content includes things from the Prelinger Archive, CC Mixter, Magnatune and Fading Ways Music:
Philharmonia Baroque's release of Atalanta gets press coverage
I'm pleased that the article also mentions the licensing option, though it's funny that to many people, "music licensing" means "music you hear in an elevator" rather than films, television, and advertising.
We've been working really closely with Rob Birman, the executive director of PBO, as PBO is really keen to establish a worldwide reputation for themselves. A big part of that strategy is through unusual repertoire released on the Internet exclusively through Magnatune.
They've also done a gorgeous job with artwork, with a very striking design, and given us native PDFs so that print quality looks great for purchasers. They're not just slopping together stuff for the Internet, but taking it as their primary platform for establishing themselves.
Recording engineer David Bowles, who we've worked with a great deal on several projects (with the David Bowles Signature Series), has been mastering digital recordings the orchestra has done (they make two recordings of each programme, over two nights, in the same hall), removing any coughs and accidental street noises, so that the releases are perfect quality.
press release: Online Service Helps Filmmakers Find, License Indie Music
A new approach to music licensing makes it much easier for filmmakers, TV producers, editors, and other creative professionals to get rights-cleared music for use in their projects.
From PR Web: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2006/4/prweb372188.htm
BERKELEY, CA (PRWEB) April 14, 2006 -- Independent record label Magnatune today announced growing popularity of its online music licensing service, with licensing sales up by more than 150 percent in the first quarter of 2006. The three year old record label is the first to automate the music licensing process in a manner similar to conventional online retailers - making music by over 200 recording artists easily available to television producers, advertising executives, and filmmakers for use in their projects.
One such filmmaker is Joachim Polzer, CEO of Polzer Media Group and director of The Election Day Documentary Film Series, a series that began with a documentation of the first and last free general election in former socialist East Germany before German unification in 1990. Polzer's production team licensed music by modern pianist Ehren Starks to provide moody counterpoint to the sunny autumn weather during which third chapter of his series takes place.
"What we highly admire about Magnatune in our documentary production department are the high quality standards both of musicality and repertoire by which the Magnatune catalog is curated. It matches our own high production values and exceeds any Garage Band sampling work we could have done by ourselves."
Another filmmaker who recently licensed music from the Magnatune catalog is Nancy Burnett, producer and director of Bosnia After The War--a compelling documentary of life in former Yugoslavia as seen through the eyes of six young adults.
"I found the perfect music for my project in the form of Panacea, a California-based women's music ensemble that performs these gorgeously modern interpretations of Eastern European and Balkan folk music," says Burnett. "This music significantly enhances the storytelling aspects of the project as a whole. "
"Typically labels and publishers make filmmakers go through an arcane negotiation process to license their artists' work," explains Magnatune founder John Buckman," "and the price is set based on the size of the filmmaker's budget. By contrast, we've automated this part of things with on-demand licensing quotes and a web-based music license generator, so everything is transparent, fixed, and fair."
Magnatune's music catalog features original, rights-cleared work by over 200 established and emerging recording artists in a huge array of genes that runs the gamut from Grammy winning opera singer Lorraine Hunt Lieberson all the way to inveterate rockers Electric Frankenstein--recently named Best Punk Band in New York City by New York Press. Buckman, known for an unconventional approach to label operations, splits all licensing fees and other profits evenly with artists.
"I'm interested in creating a system that's better for the recording artist," says Buckman. "Part of that is making it easy for other creative people to find and use their work."
Other regular Magnatune music licensing customers include Jan Halpern, music supervisor for Gearhead Pictures, the company that produced The Blair Witch Project as well as The Strand--an innovative method film being distributed online in installments.
"Magnatune's automated system makes it easy to listen to, buy, and license music for virtually any artistic or commercial endeavor," says Halpern. "Plus, the quality and variety of music is outstanding. Magnatune played a considerable role in the shaping of The Strand's musical soundscape."
Halpern recently licensed music by best-selling Magnatune artist and self-publishing success story Brad Turcotte of the band Brad Sucks.
"I love having my music used by filmmakers," says Turcotte. "It's exciting to see creative people using my music in interesting ways and it also helps expose my music to a wider audience. It's a fantastic opportunity."
Additional Magnatune licensing clients include Regal Entertainment, Agency.com, Whittman Hart, Publicis, and Linden Research--makers of the hit online role playing game, Second Life.
Founded in 2003, Magnatune (www.magnatune.com) is an independent, online record label that sells and licenses its music for personal, commercial and non-commercial use. Magnatune provides "fair-trade music" to consumers and creative professionals by equally sharing all revenue from the sale of albums with artists and allowing artists to retain full rights to their music. All music can be previewed in full, free of charge with a "try before you buy" philosophy. For more information, please visit the Magnatune website at www.magnatune.com.
new product names and short descriptions
I'm in the process of implementing two new ways people can buy music on magnatune. I'm still working on the names and describing them. Here's what I'm currently playing with:
- Become a "Magnatune Subscriber" - have commercial free Internet access to the entire magnatune music library. There's no need to download music to your computer, because you can play all our music, commercial and interruption free. It's like having your own massive music server on the Internet! $10/month.
- Buy the "Magnatune MP3 Library" - all our albums, all as mp3s, downloaded to your iPod (or other mp3 player). $150 one-time, $75/year to stay up to date.
Eyespot video mixing software pre-loads magnatune music
A new consumer video/audio mixing software called "Eyespot" http://eyespot.com includes a number of the Magnatune mp3 compilation tracks. This means that people using their free web-based video software can drop magnatune tracks in to their videos for free.
The hope is that this will lead to future licensing revenue for Magnatune, since their plan is to initially offer a free trial version, then to move to a premium product for sale, as well as potential licenses from any videos that go commercial.
the ever-changing top slogan
In the past few days, a few more people have chimed in against my slogan "listen to hours of music for free, buy it once you love it" as emphasizing "free" too much.
So, the latest iteration in the top of page slogan is:
|Listen. Love It. Buy it. We sell MP3s and perfect quality downloads.|
Well, I don't expect these changes to cause any significant increase in sales, but that doesn't keep us from tinkering with it.
new purchase download pages
1) the artwork is at the top, so you can't miss it, since all our albums now have artwork
2) the formats are split between "recommended" and "other" to make things simpler for most people
3) there are "suggestions" for what formats to download
I'm also transitioning from an old URL system for downloads that was
that redirected to a really long url:
the reason for the "/all" redirect is that I don't want the download URL to wrap in people's email programs, because if that happens, most people get confused when the url doesn't work right. So, short URLs.
But, I'm now redirecting users to:
which is shorter and more logical, and the album-sku is always short. However, this is still too long. Probably, what I'll do is shorten it even further to:
where is "a" is an alias (nickname) for /artists/albums/ and "d" is short for "download". That way I can get rid of /d/ altogether.
The same thing exists for all the mp3 files that people listen to. They're also in /all/ -- you wouldn't think this would be needed, given that those mp3 files are played by music players, but it turns out some music players can't handle long mp3 filenames or paths, so the /all/ shorthand names were needed to work around that. What I'm moving to for that is what I have now:
and eventually this'll point to
why "eventually" ? Because, I want to make sure that all the links into magnatune from other sites keep working, so what I do is make one change at a time, put in redirects from the previous place, and then have *everyone* use the redirects, so I hear if they're not working right. Then, once I know they're ok, I point all the current users to the actual files, so they aren't slowed down by the redirectors, but I'm secure in my knowledge that outside links to magnatune songs still work.
Since hundreds of thousands of blogs and web sites link into magnatune, I want to make sure their deep links continue to work, rather than being redirect to the home page when a deep link breaks.
Podcasts & music browser added, home page revisited (new column of choices added)
On the magnatune home page (http://magnatune.com) you will now find a new 3rd column of choices.
The four choices in this new column are:
The "podcast" and "browse" choices are totally new features.
There are 45 different podcasts, ranging from different moods (wake-up, relaxing) to genres (rock, classical) to niche (Intense Metal, Indian Classical), with a new episode for each appearing once a week. You can listen to them to each podcast as an mp3 stream (playing immediately to your computer), or subscribe to them with a program such as iTunes
. We'll be submitting these podcasts to the various directories, and once iTunes accepts them, we'll also have a subscribe-to-podcast-in-itunes link.
The podcasts have a short (13 second) spoken intro and an ending spoken credit, but otherwise are talk-free, for an hour of uninterrupted music.
I've been listening to these podcasts all week, and I'm really enjoying this different way of exploring the magnatune collection. In the details for each podcast, the start time of each song is given, so it's easy to find what is currently playing.
The songs in the podcasts have all had their volumes adjusted to be similar, silence at the end and beginning has been trimmed, and the songs cross-fade at the last second into each other, so there are no silent gaps. This makes, I've found, for a more pleasant experience than listening to the .m3u playlists, taht don't do these things.
This is meant to be a fast way to move around the Magnatune music library and pick things to listen to. The interface is stripped to the bare minimum, so that the pages load quickly and there's no visual clutter.
I really like how iTunes organizes music by genre/artist/album/songs, and wanted to do something similar. I'm also showing the album art (under the selected album text) and links back to the full artist's page.
My hope is that many of you will bookmark this "Browse" page, and simply use it as your music library, slowly building up familiarity with Magnatune's music and discovering music you love.
I'm not entirely happy with how the album art and additional links are integrated, in under the list of albums, but it was the best solution I could come up with. Initially, I had the songs appearing in their own cell at the bottom, spanning the width of the page, like iTunes does. But, this seemed like a waste of space as there isn't much data to display about each song, as iTunes uses that space to repeat the artist/album/genre info that is already above anyway.
Unlike iTunes, if an album spans more than one genre, (ie, Artemis is in electronica and rock) it *will* appear in both.
I did not use HTML frames to do this, because I wanted each page to be fully book-markable, so that if you find an album you like, you can bookmark and come back to it easily, as well, as give it to your friends.
A future use of this "Browse music" function will be to allow magnatune subscribers an easily way to play the commercial-free music they're paying for access to. That's what I'm working on next.
Make your own skin
If you're graphically inclined, I'd love to see some alternative "skins" for this page.
This file: browse_skin.html is the template for this page, and should be self-explanatory. To make a "skin", just change the HTML table to use your graphics and colors. Send me an email if you've made one up you want me to look at.
Now that "collections" and "best-sellers" have a highly visible link on the home page, I removed the tiny text links they had on the bottom left of the home page. That cleared up some space at the bottom left, so I moved the less-interesting items that were on the top left (links for reviewers & podcasters, give 3 copies away & recruiting cards) and moved them to the bottom left. That leaves just 3 important thing on the top left space (licensing & missing & why-we-are-not-evil), which is better, as those are important and need to be visible.