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For independent artists, striking the balance between getting your music 'out there' and getting some kind of financial reward for your work can be hard. Selling CDs direct or getting your tracks on iTunes can be great for bringing in a bit of cash, but it's unlikely that anyone outside your loyal fan-base is going to be buying. On the other hand giving your tracks away for free on Myspace could be good for exposure, but isn't going to pay for the next recording.
Enter Amie St ( an online music store with a difference. It's free to join and easy to upload your tracks, I managed to create an account and upload my first track in about 15 minutes, and for fans who want to sign up and download your tracks it's even easier, just a 30 second signup. Integrating your Amie St. music with an existing website or Myspace page is also straightforward so you don't have to up sticks and move all your online presence. At first your tracks are available free, but then as they get downloaded and recommended by users they start to rise in price, until they reach the 98 cents cap.
The whole experience of using the site is good and the built-in player / downloader works well on Mac and PC. All the tracks are copy-protection fee MP3s, so will play on a range of portable music players, and you can provide your tracks at whichever data rate you prefer. Artists receive royalty payments every four months and after an initial $5 admin fee you get 70% from every sale, which compares well to other online music stores. And of course you retain all rights to your tracks.
Now it can't have failed to catch your notice that all the prices I've given have been in dollars and cents, and there's no getting around the fact that it's US centred (or should that be centered?). The only problem this creates is that when it comes to billing options which are limited to Visa, American Express, Mastercard and Discover. But luckily there is also a Paypal option, which goes some way to satisfying the remaining UK card holders. The only other drawback is that you can't instantly pull your tracks from the store. Any file which you upload will remain for a minimum of 120 days and you need to give 60 days notice to get a track removed. Replacing a track, perhaps because you uploaded the wrong version, could also be simpler. You have to email customer support with the details of the track you'd like replaced and then provide the new file so they can do it for you.
However, all in all Amie St offers a great platform for independent artists and a great next step in bridging the gap between free and paid offerings. The site actively encourages listeners to go out and find new music and then recommend it to others, and you get rewarded for creating popular music, which can only be a good thing.
Thoughts: Get paid to be popular