Regular readers will know that I’ve been a long-term and vocal advocate of radical music product innovation. There have been modest encouraging steps from a diverse mix of places, such as iTunes Pass, Topspin, Open EMI, Björk’s ‘Biophilia’ app, Swedish House Mafia’s ‘One’ app, Pledge Music etc. All have edged forward disparate aspects of music product strategy but they have also all lacked a unifying framework to pull them together. Today comes the first stab at a music service that pulls together many of those parts. But it doesn’t come from one of digital music’s big players, nor from a major record label, but instead New York dance label Fools’ Gold Records with their Fools Gold: The Goldmine subscription service.
[EDIT: The Goldmine is powered by Drip.FM]
Subscribers get new and old music, curated content, remixes, DJ sets, extras, merchandize discounts, priority access to events and more. This is almost exactly the list of product features that I laid out for the Music Product Manifesto back in 2009 so it should come as no surprise as quite how enthusiastic I am about the offering.
The reason I listed those attributes three years ago was that this broad selection of multimedia assets truly reflect what an artist is in the 21st century, so much more so than a CD or a download does. They are also the assets which labels (majors in particular with their 360 deals) are increasingly becoming active in. It is little short of a travesty that more has not been done until now. Hopefully Fools Gold’s innovation bravery will help nudge the industry wide needle forward.
Of course it is much easier for a small label like Fools Gold to pull together the disparate artist assets necessary to create the holistic offering, but as I argued in my presentation to Midem in 2011, “the scale of the potential rewards is more than big enough to justify the sizeable effort: what is at stake is the entire future of premium music products.”
The Goldmine also ticks most of the boxes of my DISC principles that I laid out in my Music Format Bill of Rights (see figure):
Dynamic: One of the things I like most about the service is its guarantee to deliver every new release on the label automatically to the user. This is what music products need to do in the digital age, pushing relevant content to the consumer rather than relying on them to pull.
Interactive. The service includes accapellas and remix stems for users to step out of passive listening into active creation. This of course works perfectly for the dance music audience where a large share of the audience are aspiring DJs and producers. A great next step would be some in built functionality that allows even the most novice user to play around with stems, perhaps in the context of a social gaming environment.
Social. This seems to be the only key DISC element not catered for by the Goldmine, but they certainly have the building blocks to deliver on this, most notably the membership base.
Curated. Fools Gold curate tracks from the archive as part of the service and in addition deliver exclusive content and extra content.
The Goldmine isn’t the full package, nor does it signify a turning point in music product strategy (because that requires major record labels to jump on board), but it does represent the bravest innovation step yet taken.
Fools Gold just set the standard for the rest to follow.