Amie Street signs major artists to sell DRM-free music

Launched last July, Amie Street is a web-based music service that has always offered DRM-free music of independent artists for purchase. Amie Street recently signed a new deal with Nettwerk Music Group (home to well-known artists such as the Barenaked Ladies, Avril Lavigne, Sarah McLachlan and Paul Van Dyk) that has suddenly brought the service into the public eye.

The good: The music system on the site is unique as all the music listed starts out as free, but the price of each track goes up as more people download the songs. Amie Street's max song price is 98¢ per song which the company says takes just under 100 downloads to reach. Nettwerk's other artists are being added to the service over the coming months, but chances are they prices will hit the max very quickly. Using a flash-based preview system, Amie Street allows customers to listen to 85 seconds sections of each song. Users can either purchase individual tracks or entire albums, although the price for albums is based on the pricing for individual tracks.

The bad: In order to purchase songs, customers must purchase set amounts of song credits in advance (along with a number of "RECs," which are recommendations that one can use to recommend certain songs and earn more song credits). The denominations listed on the site are for $3, $5, $10, $15, and $25, meaning that users cannot simply purchase one song at a time for just under a dollar apiece. This also means that, due to Amie Street's variable pricing, the likelihood of ever totaling up your purchases to a nice, round number are pretty slim. The customer will either end up sacrificing a few cents to the Amie Street deities or will be forced to buy another set of credits to use on more songs in the future.

Ars Technica author Jacqui Cheng concluded: "During my exploration of the site, I purchased Emma Burgess' album for a grand total of $1.38—not a bad deal at all, not to mention that I get to revel in the glorious, DRM-free freedom of my legally-purchased, 192kbps MP3 files. I'm putting it on all of the seven in-use computers in my household already."

News source: Ars Technica

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This is certainly good news in my book, and I hope it gains more support from major artists. Not mad about the cons, but it is an interesting concept. If punters are remunerated for giving their 'review' of a title, you've got a meritocracy where the cream (in the majority of punters' eyes) rises to the top. This could be way better than the labels and radio deciding what's 'big'.

I hope this doesn't go down as spamming, but currently I'm using - no DRM, 320kbps MP3 plus some titles available in FLAC, and you can preview the whole track online. Catalogues from (among others) The Strokes, Prodigy, White Stripes, Bjork, AIM, Squarepusher, Franz Ferdinand... Me like.

I bought a 5 dollar credit on this site. The music I've got so far is pretty good stuff. This seems like a great way for new artists to get exposure. Hopefully more major artists join, I'd rather just buy CDs than use iTunes because of DRM.

MightyJordan said,

I'm afraid not. According to Wikipedia they're on Atlantic Records, and Warner Music Canada.

oh. all their youtube videos are posted by user 'nettwerkmusic'.

Good stuff! Hopefully if a few more small music services do this it might begin to put pressure on other record label's and services like iTunes to do the same. But I can't see it happening for sometime yet...