50 Independent Music Labels Endorse Liquid Audio

More than 50 independent music labels ("indies") have signed on with Liquid Audio, the leading provider of music downloads over the Internet. The announcement was made March 19 at South by Southwest (SXSW), an annual music and media conference in Austin, Texas.

Labels that have committed to Liquid Audio's technology include 911 Entertainment, Aegean Records, Art & Soul, Ark 21, PopMafia, Dedicated Records, Rounder Records, Twin/Tone Records, Razor & Tie Entertainment, and STV Sessions. All are participants in Liquid Audio's Indie 1000 program, which was begun last year.

Indie 1000's intention was to provide the music industry with a secure system for promoting and distributing its products over the Internet. Indie 1000 is the basis for the Liquid Music Network, to be launched later this spring.

According to a company press release, LMN will be "a Web-wide syndication program and digital distribution network designed to create a new presence for artists and labels on the Internet that will help them establish a community of music buyers as well as generate visibility and sales for artists, labels, and retailers." Music delivered over the Net directly to music lovers should significantly lower the cost of "breaking" a new band---estimated at over $1 million by executives at some major labels.

Retailers, of course, aren't greeting this development with open arms. Many of them see Liquid Audio and similar operations as direct competition. Their fear is that such systems will cut them out of the delivery chain. Scott Burnett, Liquid Audio's marketing vice president, tried to reassure them, saying record labels would benefit by using "the technology . . . to cross-promote and enhance their traditional retail efforts."

N2K's Phil Ramone made similar soothing noises to assembled retailers in his keynote address at the National Association of Recording Merchandisers' 40th annual convention, held recently in San Francisco. "N2K wants to revive the single as a viable format in the music business," Ramone said. "Think of it as a new form of advertising."

In Austin, PopMafia founder Arne Frager agreed: "Liquid Audio allows us to both promote and sell our albums on the Internet as a complementary strategy to our retail efforts." Indie executives like Edith Bellinghausen of Razor & Tie Entertainment called the agreement with Liquid Audio a "win-win situation for everybody." In her view, Liquid Audio "offers a secure solution for protecting our artists' content and a legitimate way to promote and sell music on the Internet . . . and fans have a media-rich experience."

Redwood City, CA-based Liquid Audio provides consumers with the ability to preview and purchase CD-quality music over the Internet, while ensuring copyright protection and tracking royalties. You can download the Liquid MusicPlayer 3.0 at no charge, and learn more about the company at Liquid Audio.