Over the weekend, Reuters took a look at the Atlanta-based company DiscRevolt, which allows touring bands to sell digital copies of their record without lugging a computer around on tour:
The company provides artists with customized prepaid cards that fans can redeem for MP3 downloads on its Web site. Here’s how it works: Artists buy in bulk a set of cards that they can design with their own custom artwork and text. Each card has a unique redemption code and holds 15 credits. Participating artists then upload their music in MP3 format to their profile on the DiscRevolt site, which can also accommodate a bio, contact info and artwork. Bands can either sell or give away these cards to fans, who use the redemption code to download individual tracks — one credit per track.
Where pressing CDs generally costs on average of $1 per disc — excluding cover art and booklets — DiscRevolt prices range from 100 cards for $99 (99 cents each) to 1,000 cards for $450 (45 cents each). Larger bulk orders can run as low as 25 cents per card.
There are no further per-track costs for tracks downloaded from the site. Artists pocket the cash they make by selling the cards individually — typically between $5 and $10. And even kids without a credit card can buy them.
While the piece itself is a little press-releasey (seriously, any sentence that starts “And even…” is straight out of the marketing handbook to our ears), DiscRevolt’s model sounds pretty straightforward to us; also, DiscRevolt is currently MP3-only, which at the very least allows for wide compatibility with potential buyers. The only qualm we have about the company’s plans, really, is its 15-credits-per-card model–since you can only use those credits to buy music from the artists you got the card from (as well as a few “featured” songs), that setup feels to us like it’s just encouraging lots of skit-filled concept albums to be unleashed on the digital world.