To survive the onslaught of peer-to-peer file sharing of music, record labels and artists need to change fast and come up with innovative, legal ways to earn money from listeners. Part of the problem with ‘legal’ download stores such as iTunes and Napster has been restrictive DRM, which doesn’t allow end-users the level of freedom they want. Kerchoonz is a startup which wants to change this. Kerchoonz is a two-pronged offering – it has something for both listenser and artists. The basic philosophy behind the site is that end-users / listeners can listen to music for free, and still ensure that artists get paid.
For listeners, Kerchoonz allows to to listen to music via streaming (Flash needed), or even download the music file to your PC (if the artist has enabled that). You can browse through artist profiles, see video updates, read blog posts from your favorite artists, connect with like-minded members…basically everything that a social networking site offers with the addition that your usage of the site actually supports an artist financially.
Kerchoonz’s business model is advertising-supported. Every time you listen to song stream or you download a file, Kerchoonz pays a cut of its advertising revenue to the artist. Kerchoonz is an opt-in system for artists, i.e., you shouldn’t expect big-gig bands there. Artists sign up on the site and upload their music, choose whether they want to allow their creations to be streamed / downloaded / both, and maintain profiles. An active community of listeners which is specifically seeking for new music makes Kerchoonz an invaluable springboard for upcoming artists to spread their music to a larger audience at practically nil costs – and even get paid for it! However, if as an artist choose not to give your music away for free, you can still choose to sell your songs online and provide links to an online shop.
Community interaction is one of the high points of Kerchoonz. You can interact directly with the artists you like and follow news updates about them. You can discover similar artists and people with similar music tastes through the forums / classifieds. And if you have your own blog / website then you can even share the music you listen to with other using Kwidgets. There are many different choices for the widgets you want to embed – simply choose one from the list, paste the supplied code and you’re good to go!
What about the music? Well, it’s definitely for the more adventurous music aficionados. A lot of the artists on the artists on the site (at least from my experience so far) are from electronic / techno / indie / alternative rock genres. But really, there’s a lot of great stuff that you can listen to and discover on Kerchoonz.