News October 27, 2015

US Indie labels are toying with subscription models

Former Editor

Subscription streaming and download service Drip.fm has partnered with a handful of US independent labels.

Sub Pop, Fool’s Gold, Jagjaguwar and Secretly Canadian have all teamed with the two-year-old service in a bid to accept and involve themselves in the streaming era.

The New York Times spoke to Richard Laing, Sub Pop’s Director of Sales who said the label’s new partnership with Drip.fm will help them connect with the label’s fans.

“People bought Sub Pop records and hopefully still do based on seeing the label. So hopefully this is a digital equivalent of that,” said Laing.

Subscribers to the Drip.fm-powered Sub Pop Feed will pay US$10 a month for albums, singles, bundles and exclusives.

Sub Pop is quickly moving with the times; last week radio streaming service TuneIn launched Sub Pop Radio – its first label station. The Sub Pop station, just one of TuneIn’s more than 100,00 station catalogue, has 3,500 followers. Sub Pop Radio boasts the Seattle label’s (yes, Nirvana were on their roster) back catalogue, new releases, playlists and shows featuring interviews with Sub Pop artists.

Subscribers to The Goldmine, the streaming service provided by Brooklyn label Fool’s Gold, get 320 mp3 or WAV downloads, selections from the label’s back catalogue, merchendise discounts and priority access to events for US$10 a month.

A subscription to the streaming service provided by 16-year-old Indiana-based label Jagjaguwar costs US$15 a month. Users gain access to to their DRM-free music, at least two albums per month and merch, album and concert ticket giveaways.

Indiana label Secretly Canadian launched Secretly Canadian Sounds in April. The monthly digital subscription service provides fans with each new release, back catalogue titles, remixes and other rarities for US$9.99 a month.

The move to monetise the loyalty of fans has even been mirrored by artists; American-Chilean musician Nicolas Jaar has his own streaming service (Other People), as does Canadian DJ/producer Ryan Hemsworth (Secret Songs). Subscribers pay US$50 a year for access to Jaar’s tracks while Hemsworth’s SoundCloud-based venture features a free download every other week.

Yesterday PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) released their annual Australian Entertainment and Media Outlook report, which predicted Australia’s digital sector will undergo the biggest boost, from $498 million in 2013 to $658 million in 2018. PwC attributes the boost to the establishment and growth of international digital companies like Spotify and Beats Music.

In the US, digital sales figures revealed an 11.6% decrease in digital album sales and a 13% decrease in digital track sales (Nielsen SoundScan). The report maintains streaming is still strong; audio and video streams rose 42% to US$70.3bn in the first half of 2014.

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