Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Throwing music at the web

A while ago, when I duly reported Radiohead's "No Really, it's up to you" pricing scheme, I had forgotten all about Kristin Hersh's throwingmusic site. For a decade now Hersh has been offering her work online in various forms, starting with the "Work in Progress" mp3 subscription service and including a fairly conventional online album release (the release, if not the album, being fairly conventional).

Then in 2005, Hersh released an EP by her band 50FootWave (or L'~ if you prefer) in a name-you-own-price scheme under a Creative Commons license. Over 2 million copies were downloaded. I don't know what she got for them, but the EP's title, "Free Music" may have biased the price a bit. In fact, it's still available under the free music section at throwingmusic.

All of this seems somewhat staid, however, next to the "10-4" project, wherein Hersh offered to burn personalized CDs containing any 10 songs from a menu of 200, along with a personal dedication to the "special boy or girl who ordered it." At $50 a pop, the price was deliberately high to limit interest. Within 20 minutes there were 100 orders.

If you think this is easy money, you might want to see what Hersh actually ended up doing to get the results to her and her fans' satisfaction.

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