The debate over whether bands are making sufficient money in the digital age is a heated one (see a recent piece about Grizzly Bear and its many offshoots for proof of that). Many would argue that the couple-of-cents-per-stream price tag many services subscribe to severely undervalues a musician’s work, and, it seems, music subscription service Rdio is in total agreement: Today the social music service launched a new initiative called Rdio Artist Program, which aims to pay artists actual money for bringing in subscribers.
The Rdio Artist Program works thusly: 1). Any artist featured on Rdio (or his/her manager) enrolls in the program directly, 2). S/he shares music (his/her own or recommendations) on Twitter, Facebook, etc via specially generated affiliate links, 3). S/he tracks how many people interact with that music and subscribe to Rdio via those links, 4). S/he collects — directly, via PayPal — $10 for every new subscriber Rdio brings in. An unlimited Rdio subscription costs around $10, so, basically, Rdio pays artists a pretty hefty commission for attracting new fans.
Granted, this program was obviously launched in part to garner more users for Rdio (they don’t report their user numbers, so we don’t know what their base is like), but it’s still a pretty good opportunity for a band to raise some cash while also promoting their music.
At launch, Rdio has already enrolled some bigger bands in the program — including Scissor Sisters, Snoop Dogg aka Snoop Lion, A-Trak, Chromeo and Brendan Benson — however we see this initiative being much more beneficial for smaller indie bands. Ten bucks per person is a lot of money for an indie band who knows how to mobilize their fanbase. Luckily for them, Rdio recently added distributers TuneCore and CD Baby to its roster of music, so it should be pretty easy to get their tunes on Rdio if they’re not there already.
According to Executive Director of Marketing Marisol Segal, the program will continue to evolve. “This is really just the first step,” she says. “Our goal is to really support the artist. Without the artist we wouldn’t have the music that makes our service what it is.”