"In the spirit of Sundance," as Google's Director of Digital Content for Android, Jamie Rosenberg, put it, Google and T-Mobile have paired up to launch "Magnified Artists" -- a new promotion behind the launch of Google Music's Artist Hub, which allows indie artists to connect and sell music more directly to fans.
The concept is perhaps the biggest leap yet in this still hot and malleable direct-to-fan era of music vending -- and the process is quite simple once you remove the middleman. Bypassing iTunes, Amazon, Beatport and the like, bands can log in directly to the Google Music artist hub, (pay a one-time fee of $25 to use the platform), upload their music, set their own prices and watch as fans purchase and download their music without any excess steps or complications. It's a simple service, congruent with the way the music industry is headed, and a definite no-brainer for an innovative, ahead-of-the-curve company like Google.
"It's a self-service process for artists and fans which is why it ties so well with the Google mission overall," said Rosenberg. "It's all about helping users find stuff on their own."
Similar sites have blossomed over the past year, latching on to this relatively new and direct wave of music vending. Bandcamp is one of those such sites that has seen success and has quickly become a household name in the indie world. The site is a well-known player in the booming indie sector of the music market and the current forerunner in the direct-to-fans route of the music business. VibeDeck, although much less of a popular name, has also caught on to this trend. The e-commerce platform allows artists to sell their music directly to fans as well, through Facebook, SoundCloud, official artist websites, and most recently, YouTube.
But although they may put in the effort, what these sights can't expertly deliver is the music discovery portion of the equation -- the finely sharpened algorithms, piles of meta-data, tuned-in editorial team and search abilities that only Google can bring to the table. With all of these wires plugged into the overall Google Music Artist Hub machine, fans will more accurately and more acutely succeed in finding the music they want to hear. For this reason, Google will predictably shine in the direct-to-fans division of the game.
And what could be a better setting for the launch of this new service than Sundance - a festival notorious for celebrating the indie side of film, and in more recent years a celebration of, and launching pad for, independent musicians. For four nights of the festival (January 20th - January 23rd) Google Music and T-Mobile hosted a live concert series at TAO's Park City pop-up location to celebrate the launch. The live performances featured a wide range of talented indie musicians, including Bad Rabbits, Fort Lean, Vintage Trouble, The Whigs, G-Side, Chancellor Warhol, The Civil Wars and Feather and Belle.
"Sundance celebrates the independent artists in any genre," said Rosenberg, explaining why Sundance was chosen as the setting for this launch. "What we're doing works well with the spirit of Sundance and allows these artists to align themselves with the whole spirit of the event."
To connect the live event even more directly to the online service, T-Mobile Android users can log in to the Google Music store and download free tunes by the event's performers through the Sundance Magnified playlist. My recommendations? Bad Rabbits, The Whigs and The Civil Wars.
For more information on the Google Music Artist Hub and the "Magnified Artists" program (and to test out the service for yourself) check out http://music.google.com/artists.