Music site Amie Street: You get what you pay for

Music alterna-store Amie Street, which alpha launched in 2006 and recently relaunched a more finished version, has an interesting market-driven pricing model

I've never understood why online music is commodity priced. iTunes' buck-a-track model vastly overprices a lot of rotten music and arguably underprices the really good or popular tracks. Music alterna-store Amie Street, which alpha launched in 2006 and recently relaunched a more finished version, has a market-driven model, which also has the side effect of making it more likely that up-and-coming artists can find success in a very crowded market.

On Amie Street, the new tracks are free. CNET Networks

On Amie Street, all new music starts out as free: you can download new tracks at no cost, with no rights management encumbrances. But here's the thing: when people start to download a track, the price starts to go up. The more people buy it, the more it costs, up to a dollar a track. Furthermore, Amie Street users who recommend undiscovered tracks get a cut of sales for the tracks they recommend that sell well.

It's a head-slapper, wish-I-had-thought-of-it economic model, the kind of thing you'd expect to come out of a business school competition or from a bunch of college students (the founders are indeed in college). But will it work in the real world? I found a decent selection of indie music in most categories, and I mostly agreed with the recommendations of the Amie Street community, as reflected in the prices of songs. On this music service, you do get what you pay for.

See also: Sellaband, another interesting music model. This operation helps young music groups get recorded and also pays out for their success to the community. However, on Sellaband, you have to pony up a few bucks to earn a piece of the action.

If you want to stick with established artists, use a music discovery service such as Musicovery that indexes studio tracks.

About the author

Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.


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