Last.fm, a very cool online radio / music social networking site, just announced that it will pay royalties directly to independent musicians who upload their songs.
This is pretty important, for the same reason that Google’s Adsense was important (though probably a few orders of magnitude smaller impact). The Internet does a few things really, really well – quickly build network effects, encourage the creation of lots of long tail and niche content, etc. It also has the potential to cut out the middleman in economic transactions and help pay small-audience writers, artists, and musicians, so long as there’s a viable monetization system.
Adsense is that monetization system for a huge number of web sites, and hopefully things like Last.fm’s royalty program and CDBaby will be the engine that drives more interesting music online.
By the way, I started the Geek Music group a few years ago. Feel free to join, your listening habits will help us determine the best music to put on when writing code.
Here’s something interesting: the Last.fm mainstream-o-meter. Apparently my music tastes are 41.48% mainstream, at least within the Last.fm community. The biggest boost to my mainstreamness is Radiohead, which is listened to by an astounding 103.56% of Last.fm users.
Last.fm no doubt attracts a skewed population, but I do have to say I’m surprised that it continues to differ from radio playlists and CD sales. Radiohead is a perfect example – from my sampling of commercial radio over the past few years I would say they are almost completely absent. Yet a large number of people listen to Radiohead on their PCs.
Next up is a page that tells you which movie reviewer has tastes that best match yours. I’m sure we’ve all read reviews online or in the local paper and wondered if the reviewer saw the same movie. With sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, you’re n longer limited to the opinions of a few writers. The average scores on those sites are interesting, but still don’t always match my tastes or your tastes. This will give you some names to look out for.