Republic Project, which offers one of the most interesting ways for artists to monetize their efforts that we have seen recently, is coming out of closed beta this week. The Republic Project gives bands and fans a new way to connect. Fans can pre-order a band's forthcoming album on the site and then watch as the band produces the new album. Once an album is finished, the Republic Project will deliver DRM-free MP3s to its users, and musicians will be free to sell their music on any other service.The
Out of Beta - All Bands are Welcome
We first looked at the Republic Project in February this year, when it was still in closed beta with only a handful of artists, including Tim Myers, Dexter Freebish, Steriogram, and Still Time. During the beta period, the service provided a lot of help to these bands, but now that the site will be open to all bands, this amount of hand-holding won't scale and bands will have to use the project's self-service tools to manage their accounts. Bands will get a widget that they can put on their site or MySpace page to bring fans to their Republic Project site. On the service, they will be able to upload new videos, track orders, and set the price for their albums and a release date.
When we talked to Republic Project CEO Ryan Swagar yesterday, he stressed that the project is now open for everybody, no matter the size of their fan base or style of music. Bands can set the price for their albums anywhere from $2.99 to $9.99. All of this money will go directly to the band. In addition, the Republic Project will charge fans a fixed $1.99 transaction fee. Swagar also noted that bands don't have to produce full albums but could also use the service while they're in the studio to record just a few songs.
Focus on Video
Of course, bands are free to upload as much or as little content during the pre-release phase as they want, though to make the best use of the service, we would expect bands to update their fans at least once every couple of days. The Republic Project will hold all the money it collects from fans in escrow, just in case a band never actually finishes an album.
Once an album is finished and all the music is uploaded to the service, the band flips a switch and the finished music goes out to all the fans. At the same time, though, the band's site on the service will shut down and the band can sell its final product anywhere else as well. The service does not plan to become a full-blown music retailer and won't sell any of the tracks after the album is finished.
From what we have seen so far, we think the Republic Project looks like a great idea that is very well executed. We are also not aware of any other company that currently provides these services. The Republic Project fills a niche for both musicians and bands and it will be exciting to watch how bands use the service over the next couple of months.