Magnatuneis out to change the way you discover and buy music. If you combined iTunes with 10,000 Villages or any other fair trade store, you’d get the idea. Magnatune is an independent label that signs a wide variety of musicans (and I mean WIDE – really, really, really wide) and makes their albums available online. You can stream every album on the site and listen to it as much as you like. The hope is that you’ll like it enough to purchase it so that you can download it and have it available anytime, anywhere.
The interesting part is this: If you’d like to purchase it, you pick the price, anything from $5 up per album (you can’t pay per song). You pay what you think its worth. The other very unique aspect of the model is that the artist gets 50% of what you pay (unlike traditional labels tha tpay the artist a miniscule amount, literally pennies on the dollar.) The artist wins because they’re getting a much bigger profit from their work, the label wins because they don’t really have much overhead (no studios, etc.), and the consumer wins because you can discover music in all sorts of genres and pay what you want for it. The gamble is the belief that consumers want to support good artists, just not greedy labels. And, apparently, that assumption has proven true.
So check it out. You’ll find indie bands, rock bands, acoustic music, classical music, world music, soundscape/ambient stuff, electronica, even some really nice Russian Orthodox chants. I particularly recommend Mutandina, described as “funk jazz salsa rock from Argentina.” Great stuff. Heavy Mellow is a nice acoustic guitar sound, Falik is very interesting, described as “Middle Eastern infused with electronica.” Jamie Janover has several albums of hammered dulcimer that are nice. You get the idea. Click on “Artists” to get a description of them all. Let me know what you like.