Tools to Empower Digital Artists

Innovative new media companies like San Francisco-based SNOCAP and UK-based 7Digital offer independent musicians tools to distribute their music digitally at their own price and on their own terms. The content-delivery services allow artists to sell their music on their own website, Myspace page, blog, or from 7Digital’s “IndieStore”. The music is distributed in a variety of formats, including the popular DRM-free MP3 format.

SNOCAP was created by Napster founder Shawn Fanning, Jordan Mendelson, and Ron Conway in 2002. SNOCAP provides artists with tools to create online stores and distribute their music using P2P file-sharing software. Artists upload their music and album information to SNOCAP’s Digital Registry and SNOCAP keeps .39 cents for each song downloaded.

With 7Digital’s do-it-yourself-digital-download-store, artists have an instant world-wide selling point and keep up to 80% of the profits from their music sales (with monthly accounting). The service takes PayPal and other click and buy payment methods to keep it simple.

Other companies like CD Baby help artists to distribute their recordings both digitally at places like iTunes as well as on physical CDs through the mail.

Obviously one of the most exciting aspects to this kind of digital delivery service is that artists are no longer forced to give up control and ownership of their music to a major record label in order to have global distribution. Another key point is that these new media companies do not require exclusive distribution deals with artists. Artists remain free to promote and sell their music in as many outlets as possible. Now this is what I call using technology to empower creativity!

The financing behind 7Digital is Benchmark Capital, the same firm that funded the successful online auction company SNOCAP is funded by Napster’s funders and several other forward-thinking new media VC firms.

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