Magnatune is an amazing new record label that is completely rethinking old music industry business models. They offer music from a wide range of genres that you can download, stream, and listen to. And, like computer shareware, you buy stuff you like only after trying it out first. The label splits profits with artists 50-50 and even offers a sliding scale for purchases through Paypal.

On top of all that, they’ve released every song on the label under a Creative Commons license. Like their slogan says, “We are not evil.” Sounds like an understatement.

4 thoughts on “Magnatune”

  1. Okay, I see their Creative Commons License – but I can’t figure out how to easily download any of those songs. All they offer is M3U streams. Sure, I could bypass that by donwloading the M3U playlist, extract the MP3 URls and then download the stuff – but with the same hassle I can download thousands of songs from So where is that “Open Muic” that they seem to talk about so much?

  2. It looks good, and I sincerely wish Magnatune and their artists all the best. However, I was there during the euphoric late 1990s when autonomous digital distribution seemed set to revolutionise the music industry and destabilize the big labels’ monopoly. All these companies (,,, etc. etc.) launched with a bang and a whole lot of “by artists, for artists” rhetoric, and then one by one (with the exception of iuma) tried and failed to pay artists and collapsed ( or incrementally took power and money away from artists (, as you well know). So while I remain full of optimism that a viable model can be found, I will also say let’s hope the payment model works for listeners, let’s hope the company is able to follow through in the long term, and let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself.

  3. you wrote:

    “but I can’t figure out how to easily download any of those songs. All they offer is M3U streams…”

    To download songs at Magnatune for use with the creative commons license, click on the “license” link next to any album (ie, and choose “Non-Commercial (Creative Commons)” as the project type. You can download songs directly from the following page.

    The reason downloading is not on the main page with “listen” is that I found many people looking for commercial licensing of music would see “download” and the words “creative commons” and think “great, this is public domain, it’s free for me!” I had a lot of phone calls like this, believe it or not.

    So, I moved the download to the link as described above so that people can be told that you can only use it for free if you’re non-commercial. If you’re making money off the music, you have to share with the musician. If you’re non-commercial (as the CC license specifies) there’s no cost.

    -john (from Magnatune)

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