Airborne, the viral solution to music distribution

Music, now more than ever before, needs to make its mark in an ever-fickle market. Rampant piracy, combined with legal downloads and streaming services, have all but destroyed the traditional revenue market for music. This is where a website like Airborne steps in. Why AirBorne? Because “Music is the virus, and the virus is AirBorne.” Catchy.

It’s like Spotify, but not really. Well, if you’re prepared to listen to music which is uploaded by the recording artists only, then it’s the dream website for your needs. Competition is fierce and with products such as TuneCore, BandCamp and iTunes, AirBorne will have to work hard to scratch its name into the top of the leader-board.

For a dollar a month, users (called “Fans” by AirBorne) can access music which is uploaded by the Artist and play it on a device of their choice. All music uploaded by the artist then falls under a Creative Commons 3 (BY-NC-SA) licence. This equates to free distribution.

So who dreamed up the concept for this “entirely new solution”? This seed-funded venture with a minority stake held by Framse Investments and is chaired by Justin R. Melville (Founder and CEO), Gus van der Spek (COO), Ruark Ferreira (Chief Systems Architect and Community Engineer), David van der Linden (Chief of Artist Acquisition) and Matthew Stone (Chief Analyst and Viral Engineer). Melville, Ferreira and Stone share a common thread, as all worked at Rubiks Room, a digital agency based in Cape Town, South Africa.

According to AirBorne, the most important people in the music industry are the Fans and the Artists. Everything else is auxiliary noise. For that measly monthly dollar, the Fan becomes a viral carrier of the Artist’s music. Each time the music is spread to another Fan, the Artist of course earns another dollar. Fun Fact: it would only take 1658 Fans supporting the Artist to produce enough income for them to be earning the US equivalent of a minimum wage.

What does the Fan get out of the deal? How about access to the Artists music whenever it is released and because it is under a CC3 license, the content can be accessed on any music device. New music from the Artist is made available in the mythical cloud. From this juncture, streaming, downloading and sharing of the Artists music is possible. The more the music is shared, the more the Artist makes. AirBorne makes this music available worldwide, so what is there to lose?

Artists are also given access to a simplified analytic tool (which I was unable to test out). According to the video (embedded below), it seems as if Artists will know who and where their Fans are. An interactive globe then displays the global connections between each Fan. The Artist keeps pumping out the hits and the Fans organically grow, injecting fresh revenue into the coffers.

I crept around the website to see if it could make this user into a fan. Airborne’s creators want to deliver a product which satisfies the “natural behaviour and needs of each party.” Well I need music, and I need it now. The website only offers up a promotional video, a place for Artists to sign up with the service and link to “The Music Industry is Sick”, a tell-all blog which seems to chronicle the demise of the standard music revenue stream. Hopefully in the future I’ll get to test the service along with the rest of the Fans.

Plans for the future, according to Stone, include “developing local ‘cells’ in the major music cities of the world as well as integrating with key venues and festivals,” and eventually “Becoming a major player in the music business as a preferred platform for both Artists and Fans with hundreds of millions of dollars paid out annually to Artists and a millions of songs available to fans to enjoy and share.”

In development for four years and counting, Airborne finally launches this December. Follow its Twitter and Tumblr feed for further information.



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