FROM TC: is one of my favorite websites for entrepreneurial ideas. Here are some recent items they've posted about new ways to think about music distribution:


In Singapore, site combats music piracy by rewarding users for sharing legal links, 8/9/12 (Spotted by Katharina Kieck)

Piracy has been a persistent problem over the years, but Singapore-based Tell My Friends thinks it may have come up with a novel solution: give users a way to share music, ebooks, videos and apps legally while getting paid for their efforts. Users begin by signing up for a free account. Then, each time they make a new music purchase, they can share it on their social networks. When they do, a unique identifier code links their original share to people who subsequently buy the track. Those who directly buy from the link earn the original user a set amount per purchase for up to 10 purchasers; those who buy from links shared by others earn the originator a slightly smaller commission per purchase. Tell My Friends works closely with societies like Composers and Authors Society of Singapore, Music Publishers Singapore, labels, publishers and independent artists to negotiate and determine royalty rates in advance. It also helps promote local musicians by organizing events such as concerts and performances. Typically, at least 50% of the revenue from the sale of each product goes back to the people who created it; about 30% goes back to Tell My Friends users in the form of commissions, while the remainder goes toward administration. Music-minded entrepreneurs around the globe: one to emulate for the audiophiles and artists in your neck of the woods?


In New York City, sidewalk listening stations offer album preview, 7/10/12

We've already seen a number of innovative marketing techniques employed to promote musicians, most recently Belgium band Absynthe Minded's campaign that only let fans watch their video when the song was receiving radio airplay. The most recent innovation we've spotted comes from French fashion and record label Kitsuné who teamed up with creative media agency CNNCTD+ in the US to promote an album using the latter's Sound Graffiti method, which enables passersby to listen to music at sidewalk-located stations. Featuring upcoming talent from US bands such as DWNTWN, Giraffage, Emil & Friends and Selebrities, the compilation album Kitsuné America was made available to fans in New York City earlier this year, who could listen for free at one of 15 stations dotted around the metropolis. The devices were fitted to street lights and other vertical structures and featured standard 3.5mm jacks to allow passersby to plug in their own headphones. Visitors to the CNNCTD+ website could view a map of the station locations and, once at a dock, they could receive instructions on how to get a free copy of the album at the Kitsuné store, housed at the NoMad Hotel in midtown Manhattan. With digital music becoming ever more intangible, are there any other ways to add a more physical aspect to listening?


Related: 'Human jukebox' offers audience control in exchange for donations, 8/10/12

We recently came across a novel take on the age-old art of busking. Just as the Stanley Piano project encourages users to choose its repertoire, now videomakers CDZA have come up with a similarly inventive way to make money for buskers with its Human Jukebox. Operating out of New York, the group headed onto the streets of Brooklyn with a violin and double bass, along with a handful of melodies ranging from Bach to Lady Gaga. Each song was designated its own labeled jar and passersby could change what the duo played by placing change into the corresponding receptacle. Every time someone donated, the duo instantly changed track. There were also jars offering 'fast forward', 'slow down' and a mystery option [that] brought out a saxophonist for a surprise performance. This video shows the jukebox in action: The session raised $76, which the group donated to Wingspan Arts, a non-profit that engages New York City's youth population with the arts. Although a small operation, the Human Jukebox is another example of an enterprise enabling customers to interact with and customize the content they are receiving, to great effect. There are plenty of lessons here for businesses both big and small.


London train service offers free custom music for the trip to Gatwick Airport, 7/23/12

Music can be an excellent traveling companion, and we've already seen several efforts to suggest or even tailor music playlists for a particular trip. Now, a new selection of custom music from the UK's Gatwick Express train service aims to give riders a musical description of their journey. The train travels nonstop between London's Victoria Station and Gatwick Airport in what is roughly a 30-minute trip. Now, offered exclusively to customers who buy their tickets online, the free Gatwick Express Tracks include three custom-recorded musical interpretations of the journey from recording artists Philip Sheppard, Benga, and The Milk. This video illustrates the premise in further detail.


A new album of rock songs that can only be heard if fans perform it 8/15/12

With the often-heralded death of the record industry never quite coming to fruition, we've seen some musicians embracing digital music, from the record label offering free downloads for life to the rapper only allowing one person at a time to listen to his mp3 single. Taking a step in a different direction, popular singer-songwriter Beck is releasing Song Reader, a new album that is only available in sheet music format. To be published through McSweeney's in December, the book will be a high quality hardback featuring full-color illustrations from artists such as Marcel Dzama, Leanne Shapton, Josh Cochran and Jessica Hische, inspired by a time prior to recorded music, when decorative sheet music sold millions of copies. As well as providing a unique object for fans, the book also serves to encourage them to be more involved in bringing it to life - in order to hear a song, fans will have to play it themselves. McSweeney's will post recorded renditions of the album tracks from fans, providing a platform for burgeoning musicians to connect with a like-minded audience. Although ostensibly a nostalgic return to the pre-phonographic era, the campaign also seeks to foster an interaction with fans, via the internet, that could not be gained through a standard LP release.


In Brazil, a night of music for the hearing-impaired, 7/20/12

The virtual ink had scarcely dried on our story about the MyVoice device for those with hearing disabilities when we got word of another effort aimed at the same audience. Set this time in Brazil, entertainment venue the Clash Club recently held a night of music specifically for the hearing-impaired. Set in the Barra Funda district of São Paulo, Clash Club offers three interior spaces with a capacity of 500 patrons. During its recent "Sinta o Som" night - which translates roughly to "Feel the Sound" - the club served up music via a sound system with strengthened bass to help those with hearing disabilities feel the sound waves. Visual projections, meanwhile, were highlighted with lasers and brighter lighting. Interpreter service was available as well, and Clash's own staff underwent training with a speech therapist and specialist in public health. Nearly 10 million people are hard of hearing and close to one million are functionally deaf in the United States alone, according to the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education. Time for your brand to take action to better accommodate them?

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