Making it online

By Katy Fentress • 11 Jun 2009 • 2 Commenti

beatpick_nocom_tagline_whitebg2As Intiman, an Italo Bolivian musician based in Rome saw his career begin to take off, he began to explore what options he had for getting his music heard. He was wary of signing a contract with a major record label, especially being aware of how they capitalise on young musician’s talent, making huge profits for themselves while controlling the artists’ rights to their own music. He felt that the days of major labels monopolising the distribution of music were numbered and that the best option for him was to use the power of the web to try and make it on his own.

It didn’t take long for Intiman, who specialises in composing a unique brand of dancefloor ragga sung in a mixture of English, Spanish and Italian, to realise that promoting one’s own material is hard and time consuming. He soon began to search for new ways of getting distributed that would still allow him to maintain the rights over his creative output.

Two and a half years ago, Intiman came across the then nascent netlabel and decided he was interested in what they were proposing. He submitted his first record to them and, after a couple of weeks, was notified that they had decided to sign him on.intikomarttour

BeatPick was launched in February 2006 as a bedroom start-up. The project developed from an idea conceived by Davide d’Atri, a young Italian entrepreneur. With the help of his friend Francesco Danieli, the two decided to create a music label that would provide an alternative to the superfluous institution that major record labels have become in the Internet age.

D’Atri’s aim was to provide a music distribution platform that promoted artists’ music and ensured that for each track or album sold, the musician got a 50% cut of the profits. The idea was to use an innovative copyright system called Creative Commons that gives greater flexibility to its users, allowing them more power to decide what can and cannot be done with the fruit of their work. D’Atri felt that the traditional copyright system was simply too rigid to be applied to the reality of the Internet today and that the fact that people share music between each other is something to be embraced not squashed.

Three years later and BeatPick is up and running with an office and a new website to show for itself. Davide says that the new site has shifted the focus from promoting individual artists’ music and instead concentrates more on what has become the core of the company’s business model: licensing.

“We felt focussing on a business to business model was the only way to increase revenues for our single artists,” says d’Atri, “when it comes to direct album sales the competition is fierce out there and we don’t stand a chance”

The idea is that anyone who needs some music whether it be for a film, documentary, ad, fashion shoot or whatever, fills in a brief form in which they specify things like their budget and distribution targets. Once they have inserted all the relevant info, they are given a quote that caters to their specific needs. Not-for-profit and student projects get a chance to use the music for free.

Another one of BeatPick’s recruits is the electronic musician Autobam. Based in the Italian coastal city of Livorno, Autobam says he found the website through Digicult, an online digital arts magazine. After doing some research, he decided that he found their approach to music licensing very appealing and decided to go for it. Since joining BeatPick, Autobam has had the opportunity to meet video artists with whom he has subsequently gone on to collaborate on different projects. He says however that none of his music has ever been licensed.

additional-box2Intiman, whose pounding Drum&Bass beats and rough vocals appeal to a rather niche market, also admits he’s never made any sales. He sees that the move towards making the label more licensing oriented isn’t good news for him. “It’s true” he says, “I don’t make music that works for licensing and so the fact that they are no longer focussed on selling albums to individual users probably means I’ll lose out. In BeatPick’s new incarnation the service is less relevant to me and is instead better suited to people who specialise in making production music.”

Both Intiman and Autobam have taken advantage of BeatPick’s non-exclusive contracts to sign up with other labels and distribution outlets. Intiman sells his music through a website called Juno and is signed up to a couple of other labels through different Indie collaborations he is involved in. Both artists have used iTunes as a distributor for their different projects.

Even by diversifying however, neither musician can depend on the money they get from selling their music online. “Most of the work I currently undertake has to do with sound design which is undoubtedly my largest form of income.” says Autobam.

Intiman agrees: “About 1% of my music revenue comes from direct sales. That said, I need all the exposure I can get so I’m not considering pulling out.”

Obviously, there are artists that have succeeded in bagging the odd lucrative contract through BeatPick. The website proudly boasts high-profile clients such as Ralph Lauren and Mercedes Benz. So far however, it would be madness for an artist to depend exclusively on the label as a solid form of income.

BeatPick’s aim to pave the way for a revolution in the way we buy and listen to music may have fallen slightly short. In the mean time however, it seems to have evolved into a stable and popular avenue for professionals to find music that suits their projects.

“So much of what I do is related to promoting my image,” concludes Intiman, “from that perspective BeatPick does little to promote me as a musician. If I’m going to make it I just need to keep on trying new things. I’m sure that eventually us musicians will find a way to make the Internet really work for us.”

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Katy Fentress

Katy Fentress Born in Rome, to American academic parents, I attended Italian and International schools and spent time living in North Africa with my mother where I learned French. I have worked as a photographer since the age of 18 and as such have travelled to places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. I spent nine years living in the UK where I completed an MSc International Development and a BA in Anthropology. Although I have a keen interest in African politics and culture, I also have a well-rounded knowledge of UK current affairs, art and lifestyle.
| All the articles by Katy Fentress

Comments: 2 »

  1. Hi Katy,

    I am Benjamin and I work for Beatpick as a music licensing client manager. Thanks for your article.
    i’d like to point out that your sentence “Obviously, there are artists that have succeeded in bagging the odd lucrative contract through BeatPick.” is a little unfair:
    During the last 7 days only we have licensed music for 3 PUMA worldwide advertising video and we have cut a deal to provide lots of our music for a brand new italian TV show going to be screened from september on a major TV channel. during the last 2 weeks we have cut a deal to diffuse our music in over 1000 outlets in italy. IntiMan which is a great musician and friend of ours has only 4 d&b tracks out of a catalogue of over 5000 tracks.

  2. Hi Ben, thanks for your comment.
    I take your point and concede that Intiman may not have been the best case study of how the average artist is faring under BeatPick.
    In his interview, d’Atri speaks of a shift in the label’s core business model, focussing less on selling individual albums and more on aiming at contracts like the ones you just mentioned. From your comment, I read that this change has produced very positive results and that you are now reaping the benefits. Kudos to you.
    It would seem that BeatPick’s move towards an almost exclusively licensing-oriented model, means that its smaller and slightly more niche artists will tend to slip through the net, while the more catchy mainstream ones will receive greater attention. Whether this is a positive or negative development is beyond the scope of this article/comment.
    My understanding of the BeatPick model today, is that the label no longer focuses on the goal of affecting the way people buy and sell music online but has settled with what seems to be a strong business model that provides a competitive service for companies looking to license music.
    I look forward to hearing about the evolution of BeatPick and hope it will continue to grow like you say it has.


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