When the times get tough, the tough get in­no­vat­ing

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - News - Jim Car­roll on mu­sic

IN­NO­VA­TION comes in many dif­fer­ent forms. When you’re a record la­bel op­er­at­ing at a time when sales and rev­enue are on the slide, you have a cou­ple of op­tions. You can do what the big boys are do­ing: sit on your hoop, hire le­gal ea­gles to com­mence court ac­tions and give out yards about your sit­u­a­tion. Or you can ac­tu­ally do some­thing that recog­nises that the world – and your busi­ness model – have changed.

Los An­ge­les-based Stones Throw is not the first la­bel to come up with the idea of a sub­scrip­tion model, but its par­tic­u­lar of­fer­ing is one we can ex­pect many oth­ers to im­i­tate.

For $10 a month, you’ll get ev­ery new re­lease from the hip-hop la­bel, which has re­leased records in the past by Aloe Blacc, Mayer Hawthorne, J Dilla, Madlib, The Step­kids and many more. Up­com­ing re­leases which will soon be hit­ting sub­scribers’ in­boxes in­clude an EP from Home­boy Sand­man and an al­bum from Quak­ers, the hip-hop project from Por­tishead’s Ge­off Bar­row.

It’s a great deal on many dif­fer­ent lev­els. The price is a snip for those la­bel ob­ses­sives who know Stones Throw will al­ways pro­duce the goods, while the ca­sual fan is also likely to be en­ticed at that price point.

The folks at the la­bel are prob­a­bly mak­ing bet­ter dough from the deal than they’re get­ting from emu­sic or the stream­ing sites. The acts will at­tract new fans. Ev­ery­one’s a win­ner. All of which begs the ques­tion why more la­bels don’t move in this di­rec­tion.

Some have, in fair­ness, worked up sim­i­lar plans – for in­stance, there’s the Friends of Richter Col­lec­tive scheme from the Ir­ish la­bel –-but not as many as you’d ex­pect. While the ma­jors seem to be stuck in a state of in­er­tia, per­haps we’ll see more indies head­ing for the in­no­va­tive side of the street.

Stones Throw has re­leased records by Aloe Blacc

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