Free HD video production and global distribution for your music
If you’re making music the world needs to hear, and your best concert footage was captured on a flip-phone, you should check out BAMM.tv. Founded by brothers Chris and Nick Hansen, BAMM.tv works with emerging artists to capture performances in HD video and high-quality audio in their San Francisco studio, or at music festivals and venues around the world. For free.
The typical deal results in 5 videos: one goes to the artist for promotion and distribution through whatever channels they choose. In exchange, BAMM.tv has exclusive rights to distribute the remaining videos through a network with an estimated reach of 15 million people in 150 countries. Net profit will be split 50/50 with the artists.
I spoke with co-founder Chris Hansen, and he expects BAMM will break even in early 2013. But they plan to start paying bands some money before then, in part to test out their payments system. Once they are profitable, artist payments will be based on their percentage of plays on the network.
BAMM continues to sign up distribution partners, which currently include Taiwan’s Chunghwa Telecom, a global deal with Samsung to include a BAMM.tv app on all of their tablets and smartphones, and Flingo, which provides video content to over seven million smart TVs. They are also working on an iPad app that will help promote the participating artists, with a $1,000 cash prize for the “Artist of the Month” and other sponsored promotions.
The future of music and artist compensation
Last September, we wrote about the Future of Music Coaltition and their Artist Revenue Streams project, which they describe as “a multi-method, cross-genre examination of how US-based musicians’ revenue streams are changing, and why.” The project has spawned a new website, and the 29 streams have spread into 40 (or 42, but who’s counting?).
We’ll dig deeper into the ARS results for an upcoming report, but why has BAMM.tv has gone out and created a 43rd revenue stream? According to Chris:
I don’t think any business model that’s solely reliant upon revenues from copyright and publishing rights is going to survive long-term. The only way forward is providing access to experiences that can’t be downloaded on torrents, and the only way to do that is to ease the grip on traditional rights that made a lot of sense in the 20th century but are long outdated. Spotify seems to be the labels’ collective acknowledgement of this fact, but I still think they have a long road ahead.
First of all, the $100 million raised seems to have gone straight to the labels, and the next mega-round of funding is just around the corner. I look at the unfavorable terms toward streaming services and lack of transparency as well as the mounting cost structure as major competitive disadvantages for Spotify and other streaming services that rely on major label licensing.
On scaling and superstars
So far, BAMM.tv has worked with around 150 bands, and they’re preparing to add to that number with a return trip to SXSW. Although Bay area artists are disproportionately represented, BAMM uses Southby and other festivals to catch up with bands they have been tracking from around the world. They are also looking at adding some sound stages in SF, and recently rented a studio in Amsterdam to produce videos for European acts.
There will always be limits on how many acts can participate, so curation is an essential part of their work. Happily, they appear to be comfortable traveling outside of the mainstream for talent, as evidenced by the diverse selection of artists in the YouTube playlist above. Artists that are interested in working with BAMM.tv can submit their information here.
Chris is upbeat about the future of BAMM.tv, and looking for innovative ways to get artists paid. In our Music 2.0 series, we have seen that the future of music can’t be just one thing, and the new business models are unlikely to emerge from the entrenched players. BAMM.tv may succeed in part because they can side-step the obstacles that have been built up by the labels and license holders over the years.
What I like about BAMM’s business model is that our competitive disadvantage is upfront and obvious: we don’t get to work with superstars. After that, things start looking pretty good for us. Our variable cost is extremely low. Our license is straightforward, global, perpetual, and allows us to remix, sample, synch, make derivative works, etc. Therefore we can make deals with OEMs, telcos, MSOs and other service providers at will, and we can afford to commoditize the music product to an extent that the major players cannot.
I hope we are able to demonstrate in the coming months that the choice between piracy and Spotify is a false dilemma. There are other models that work, and we’re quietly pursuing a few that I’m very excited about.