Selling songs as iPhone apps

Seattle band Presidents of the United States of America is selling streaming versions of some of its songs as a $3 iPhone application. Good business model for indies?

Eliot Van Buskirk over at Wired has an interesting post today about Seattle band Presidents of the United States of America.

It's like a radio station with all PUSA, all the time. Melodeo

In addition to selling its songs on iTunes in the normal fashion, PUSA has just released a $2.99 application for the iPhone and iPod Touch that will let you stream songs from four albums (the ones whose rights are owned by the band), plus assorted other flotsam (live tracks, demos, whatever).

The application was built by Melodeo, whose vice president of business development is none other than PUSA's Dave Dederer.

The songs are streamed, not downloaded, which means that you need a live Internet connection to hear them. In other words, imagine Pandora or Slacker, but focused on one band and with no restrictions on song order or skipping.

The trick with this kind of compilation is clearing the rights--radio station compilations, for example, would probably be impossible because so many licensees would have to be contacted. But I think that this could be a very interesting way for bands to earn a little bit of money from music to which they have exclusive rights.

Imagine your favorite band releasing an application with demos and outtakes from its latest album, on the same day the album itself goes live to iTunes and other download sites. Imagine it releasing concert recordings the day after a concert takes place.

Record labels could also benefit--Melodeo is apparently already working on a compilation for a Seattle-area label. Perhaps this is the digital replacement for the old SubPop singles club?