Republic Project, a new online music business, officially launched its service this morning. At its core, the Republic Project reinvents the special edition music box set for the digital age. Users who pre-order albums on the service will get access to exclusive behind the scenes video shot by the band while recording the new album, access to artist blogs, as well as additional 'fan only' content like live chats and access to rare tracks. The albums on the Republic Project will be available as DRM-free MP3s.The
The first artists to sign on with the Republic Project are Tim Myers, Dexter Freebish, Steriogram, and Still Time.
For artists, the Republic Project offers a full range of services, ranging from the in-house design of the artists' web pages on the site, to reputation management and regular updates of the artists' presence on social media and video sharing sites. The Republic Project will not manage tours or sell merchandise, however.
Focus on Video
In order to produce the artists' behind the scenes videos, the Republic Project has teamed up with Flip, which will provide participating artists with its MiniHD camcorders. The Republic Project puts a strong emphasis on the video production and will edit the artists' video in-house. Only those customers who pre-order the artists' albums (or buy them after they are finished) will get access to the full-length videos, while the Republic Project will put teasers on publicly available video sites like YouTube or Vimeo.
Sounds Like a Good Deal
Ryan Swagar, the Republic Project's CEO and Co-Founder told us earlier this week that he believes that his company offers a better deal for both artists and consumers. The Republic Project keeps 30% of the revenues from all sales, which is similar to the cut that Apple takes for songs sold on iTunes - though most of that money tends to go to the labels and not to the artists.
Access to a band's site, with video updates and blog posts during the production of the album, as well as a download of the finished product will cost between $9.99 and $14.99. This is also similar to what other online music stores charge, though that obviously only includes access to the songs and doesn't include the 'box set material' that the Republic Project plans to offer.
We like the ideas behind the Republic Project: connecting artists and fans directly, providing DRM-free music, and helping artists to develop their digital footprint, while also allowing these musicians to bypass the trappings of traditional music deals. In the end, the marketplace will decide if this is something that users want - and that bands want to sign up for - but to us, it looks like the Republic Project has put together a very interesting package. Because of its emphasis on pre-orders, however, its appeal might currently be limited to bands that already have a strong, dedicated fan-base.