If imitation is the best form of flattery, London-based record label BeatPick is handing it to Berkeley and London-based label Magnatune in spades. Similarities include CC license used (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike), a 50/50 artist/label revenue split, a menu of commercial licensing options and availability of wav, mp3 and ogg downloads.
Congratulations to Beatpick for copying a great business model. If you’re interested in commons-based business models and happen to be attending SXSW, do not miss our panel moderated by CC board member Joi Ito and featuring Ian Clarke of Freenet and Revvr, Teresa Malango of Magnatune, and Jimmy Wales of Wikimedia:
Open source software business models have gone from theoretical to profitable over the past half decade-companies like Red Hat, MySQL, JBOSS, and IBM. How will peer production business models prove out in the content space? Learn how pioneering commons-based businesses are creating what Business 2.0 calls the next multi-billion dollar industry.
Update: David d’Atri of Beatpick responds below. For the record, I intended the above as a compliment to both Magnatune and Beatpick. Many (not just two!) commons based business models are great. As hinted in the above panel description, the field is ripe for exploration and innovation (which includes copying and improving, even though that isn’t what Beatpick is doing). David d’Atri:
We admire Magnatune but think we are not a copycat.
BeatPick is a project that started in 2003 during my Master in
Business Economics. The title of my -first class- final dissertation:
"A paper on economic efficiency and the infringement of
copyright in the music industry: An Insight into the Future of the
Music Industry." I showed that a decrease of copyright
rigidities in the music industry could lead to an increase in total
welfare. Just ask for a copy if you can bother to read a “heavy”
and very theoretical paper.
I had no idea about Magnatune and I did not find out about it until 4
months ago when our project was already being developed.
basic differences with Magnatune:
- We do not use a flexible price schema. We do not find it fair.
Although it is really smart from a business point of view, we find no
fair to use a clever type of price discrimination which aims to
the total surplus from each customer by asking them to
self-discriminate. We admit that it takes a lot of good marketing to
ask people to self-discriminate and we think Magnatune does a great
However we prefer to sell more at a cheaper price as we are for more
people having more music. If we were to implement a flexible price
schema then we would find fair to give artists 100% of the
over a certain amount.
- We let artists go anytime. Agreement can be terminated in 30 days
while Magnatune ask artists to commit for 5 years. We think
Magnatune’s request is reasonable from a business point of view but
it is not very fair as Magnatune does not commit to market each
- We have
a completely different graphic and style. We target younger people.
Our message is simpler and we think more direct. The graphic is not
as serious as Magnatune. Graphic is very important and says a lot
about who you are.
- We try to create a network of artists collaborating for commercial
and non commercial projects. (“commission work from our artists”).
We get a commission on commercial projects but we get nothing for non
commercial projects. Latest example is Tobor Experiment (experimental
section) collaborating with HRF-LAB
for the Lovebytes.
Magnatune does nothing like this.
- We try
to deal with hip hop and video art music (experimental section).
Magnatune does not.
- We are
going to make a section dedicated to VJ and use a similar business
model. Magnatune does not.
internet website split earnings 50/50. Nothing new. Certainly it was
not invented by Magnatune.
- Categories for music licensing were not invented by Magnatune’s .
Most music licensing websites have similar.
- We have been operating for 30 days only and we have had an holding
page for the last 2 months. Our results: 1. More than 800 music submissions including many record labels.
2. More than 4500 emails.
3. 53 artists signed.
4. About 75 links to BeatPick on google.
has ever mentioned us to be similar to Magnatune, most of the people
did not know about the Creative Commons. Are you sure we are operating in the same market Magnatune is operating? Are
you sure is not good to have other similar business models? If not
just to create hype around the Creative Commons. Are
you sure there is no space for 2 similar business models in the
- Net labels must be judged not only by the business but by their
music, their graphic, their style, their marketing.
- WAV and
OGG…where is the innovation? I think is just normal to offer
them now that broadband is getting truly “broad”.
- The main innovation is to offer music released under the Creative
Commons and this is why we claim to support and believe in fair
trade. Does Magnatune feature the CC logo in its homepage?
inspirations from Magnatune:
- The licensing. I had in mind to sell music licenses. My original
project was a sort of instant msn communication in order to provide
clients with a an instant quote and a contract delivered over email.
I was not sure how to build a music licensing control panel as we were
short of money to hire a developer (no good myself) and a lawyer. 4
months ago I saw Magnatune and I thought I could give it a go as I
understand Magnatune is pro Open Source therefore I do not understand
why it should be unhappy about its business model being taken as an
inspiration to build upon.
- “The share 4 songs with friends” comes from a detailed analysis
of network externalities in the music industry during my
dissertation; I have a draft proposal of this idea written while
working at a London record label more than 1 year ago.
does a great job in marketing its idea and I do admire it. I do also
admire John Buckman. I do also admit that is possible to find
similarities but I think that you were way too harsh. You did not
consider how good is for the Creative Commons, Fair Trade and the music
business to have other record labels operating according to a fair
business model. I do wish people to get inspired by this business
I thank you for the time you spent in reading this post and I do
appreciate the opportunity we have had to say what we think. It’s
great to be on the Creative Commons blog.
BeatPick — FairPlay Music Label