Labels Begin Experimenting with 'Teaser' Downloads

It's really almost comical to watch the music industry slowly coming to grips with the fact that they are going to have to open their distribution channels, even if they don't want to. The latest example of their taking 2 steps forward and one back are teaser downloads. The New York Times reports that Universal Music will begin offering music video clips from some of its artists as DRM-free downloads. There are 2 catches; first, the video clip is incomplete, only showing about half the song's video, and second, you have to go to the label's website to see the full version.

Still, it is a SMALL step in the right direction. The article also talks to Nettwerk's Terry McBride, who says that this will lead to music fans seeding the clips all over file-sharing networks. “This becomes public property,” he said. “We’re not going to tell the consumer how to consume.” (BTW if there was EVER a CEO that needed to be blogging, it's Terry.)

But how big of a hit will these 'teaser' downloads be? I have my concerns, since music fans are going to see that this is a ploy by the labels to drive traffic back to their website, when most of the clips are probably available at other video-sharing sites.

Or, from the artist themselves. Recall that The Donnas offer dozens of full concerts and tv appearances in both video and audio form at, all available for free download. The fact that this site even exists is absolutely huge. I keep blogging about this because I can't think of another case of a major-label artist making so much of their material freely available, and the band even calls on its fans to add content that isn't listed. As the band's manager Molly Neuman says, it's a strategy to 'grow sales by giving the music away'.

Can anyone else think of another case of a major label artist making much of their catalog available for free download? If so I'd love to hear about it.

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posted by Mack Collier @ 10:22 AM,


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