Having created and curated revered high-tech blog engadget, MidemNet speaker Peter Rojas has now moved on – or rather back – to his first love, music. The result is rcrdlbl.com, essentially an mp3 blog with two major differences: the downloads are legal and the artists get paid.
The venture is as such part label – the works offered as downloads are exclusive because they are signed via RCRD LBL’s joint venture with Downtown Records –, part blog and part community, as RCRD LBL also serves as an umbrella site for hip indie labels like Warp, Kompakt and Ghostly, who each have their own blog pages and decide themselves what they want to post there.
But the site’s innovation doesn’t stop there. Its advertising, which essentially pays the artists, is deployed in strictly creative ways – such as the Puma ‘G1FT BOT’ – often in the form of widgets, which can also be embedded elsewhere.
Above all, the RCRD LBL model is based on low risk, flexible, track-based deals for artists, as “I don’t see the point in the servitude model anymore,” says Rojas. The full lowdown is right here…
Why did you agree to speak at MidemNet? I sold engadget (to AOL) two years ago… I’ve always been interested and involved in music, but in the 90s I became very frustrated with the industry; it had become too inertial. Then more recently I had the idea of taking my online media content lessons and applying that to music. Everyone’s after the next MySpace; I just want to take something that I know works and keep it down to earth.
Can you explain the venture’s concept? RCRD LBL is a curated, sponsor-supported site where all the music is free. I’m getting a dozen [pitch]emails a day but what works online has to be niche and quality. On engadget, we wouldn’t just let anyone post, for example. When I was young, labels like Factory meant something; now, blogs are the same. They’re a filter, with respected audiences. So the site is just about bands we believe in and hope the audience will too.
So how is it different from mp3 blogs? A/ it’s legal and B/ its content is exclusive, i.e. we’re paying for it. We sign for the tracks, not the artists; I don’t see the point in the servitude model any more. It’s in a blog format and it’s committed to DRM-free music, to treating the audience with respect. That’s why blogs have done so well, because they allow the audience to write for itself. Our revenues will come from ads and sponsorship, but also from licensing and publishing stuff too. We’re focusing on a handful of genres, but above all what we think is cool.
What do you make of Thomas Hesse’s claim that only majors have the reach to – and hence control of – all possible channels today? You can’t control anything anymore. The best you can do is create something valuable and hope people come back to it. You’re never going to have perfection; we’ll never capture everyone’s attention. The majors still have a great role to play; they just have to recognise it’s a different world, that value lies in a different place now. It’s about creating a relationship with the consumer and leveraging that.