Indie Labels Using Blogs to Boost Music Sales

Posted on April 1, 2007

The Christian Science Monitor has an article about how Indie labels are using bloggers to get independent artists noticed. They also report how the idea is already having an impact on music sales and the Billboard music charts.
In recent weeks, albums from indie acts The Shins and Arcade Fire both recently debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard charts, selling about 90,000 units each. The two bands soared past releases by entrenched mainstream artists such as Christina Aguilera and Nickelback. And this week, Modest Mouse, a longtime independent powerhouse - now signed to Sony - made a splash with "We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank."

The commercial explosion is no accident. Indie labels may have finally found a way to harness the Internet's sizable community of tastemakers. These music labels are bringing bloggers who have a reputation for posting legal and illegal MP3 tracks into the fold by purposefully leaking albums ahead of the release.

Much as iTunes created a palatable model of digital downloading, these labels increasingly rely on carefully controlled - and sometimes uncontrolled - leaks of MP3 files to publicize upcoming records. Ever since the arrival of file-sharing sites such as Napster and Grokster, entertainment firms have grappled with the question of whether to crack down on the sharing of copyright material or find a way to harness its spread to boost music sales. Even as major entertainment firms mull similar questions relating to the spread of unauthorized clips on YouTube, the popular video-sharing site, they will be keeping close watch on the effectiveness of such "leak" strategies by small labels.
In addition to leaking albums to bloggers music companies can also get bloggers to spread the word about new music by offering embedding music videos. A lot of independent artists are using YouTube and/or MySpace Videos in this manner. We mentioned a few artists that were garnering subscribers on YouTube a couple months ago. Some larger labels like RCA Records, a unit of SonyBMG, are also using YouTube to make music videos available online for embedding. Recently they put music videos from Katharine McPhee and Avril Lavigne on YouTube. They also kept the embed feature activated so bloggers could embed the videos. For example, here is the video for Katharine McPhee's "Over It."



If it works for the indie bands then the larger music publishers can be expected to eventually give it a go as well. If all the music labels offer embeddable music videos than bloggers could really become the new VJs.

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