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"We do have a community of people that we’ve been canny enough not to alienate, and now we can add value to what we’ve been offering them."
——Uplister EVP Jeremy Silver
UPLISTER’S INDIE SUB SERVICE: WILL FANS PLAY?
Playlist-Mongering Netco Pacts With TVT, Matador, Others For $10/Month Offering
As the big players—Pressplay with MSN, Yahoo! and MP3.com, MusicNet with Real and Napster and Liquid Audio—ready their online subscription music services, speculation abounds about consumer interest.

But grass-roots music netco Uplister, which has developed a loyal user base around the sharing of personal playlists, is betting that its planned sub venture with some of the biggest fish in the indie pond will attract users with the personal touch.

For $10 per month, half your AOL subscription rate by the way, Uplister subscribers will have access to "unlimited downloads" of music from TVT Records and its affiliated labels, Matador and Beggars Group (which includes 4AD, Beggars Banquet, XL, Mo’Wax and more)—and, on a promotional basis, Roadrunner, Alternative Tentacles, Moonshine and other hipster imprints. The music will be a mix of catalog sought by fans and new material the labels want to promote.

A beta test of the service is planned for the summer, and a number of partnerships are expected to be announced in the coming weeks and months. The service will utilize Microsoft’s Windows Media for both security and Digital Rights Management, but music will be available in both WMA and MP3 formats. Winamp is now offering a plug-in for Uplister users that links the track being played to the playlist-search function.

The site claims its 150,000-plus unique monthly users have learned about new music by searching for their favorites in fellow users’ playlists. Then the rest of said lists can be perused for browsing purposes; Uplister allows for both sampling of playlist tracks and the purchase of CDs containing them. With the sub service (which is supported by a BMI agreement as well as the label deals; talks with publishers are ongoing), users will be able to download that music, smorgasbord-style.

"The collaboration between Uplister and its key label partners creates a clearly focused digital alternative for the independent music sector," proclaimed the netco’s CEO Toni Schneider. "We will work together to achieve our consumer-centered vision of how music will be enjoyed in the future."

Added TVT chieftain Steve Gottlieb: "Uplister’s playlist-centric platform for music discovery and distribution is a great example of harnessing the Net to offer a new and unique music experience." Gottlieb added that the planned service would enhance CD sales rather than "cannibalizing" them.

Napster’s "hotlist" feature has proved similarly successful in exposing users to new music. Napster’s own deal with many of the same indie labels will put it in direct competition with Uplister.

Commented Uplister EVP Jeremy Silver: "The reason we feel confident is that from the outset, we took the hotlist feature and elaborated on it. That’s the point of departure. We’ve developed that over the last nine months  for a community of users who’ve got to be music nuts, since all we’ve had are 30-second clips.

"The loyalty and session time we’ve been able to generate have averaged about 30 minutes, whereas on most sites, session time averages about eight minutes," Silver elaborated. "So we do have a community of people that we’ve been canny enough not to alienate, and now we can add value to what we’ve been offering them, rather than begin charging them for what we’ve been offering for free."

Silver is philosophical about this early period of the service, noting that Uplister expects to cater almost exclusively to the fabled "early adopters."

"We’re at what I like to call the wind-up gramophone phase of the Internet," he notes. "We’ll have to wait to see what happens."

 

 

 

 

 

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