The folks at NoiseTrade recently emailed us to let us know they've passed a million total downloads since their July launch--not too bad considering folks weren't sure how it would pan out. From co-founder Derek Webb:
Fans are clearly responding to a "fair trade" approach. In response, they're being very generous and our artists are benefiting tremendously. Not only have we seen over 100,000 full album downloads, we've also paid out over $25,000 to artists. And we're still off the radar for the most part so we feel like we're just getting started.
So that's exciting for them. On a somewhat related tip, a friend just filled me in on a site known as Just Hear It. Just Hear It doesn't make songs available for download, but it does stream any and all tunes it can find on the Webz. The concept is simple: Type the name of a song you're looking for, and if it's out there in the Internet ether--on Virb, Last FM, even YouTube--it will be streamed to Just Hear It's embedded player. You can even build playlists from the videos and tunes you come across.
According to the site administrators, Just Hear It is totally legit: "JustHearIt pays for licenses from all the major performing-rights organizations (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC)...In the future, we aim to negotiate licenses to share our revenue with the labels, in our effort to fight piracy..."
The site seems to have been built around the concept that you might know the name of a song but can't find it on, say, the artist's Last FM or MySpace page. I found that by searching an artist's name rather than a track title, you'll bring up lots of their material. "The Carter Administration," for instance, brought up a total of 17 tracks, 13 of which were actually by the Carters. (Oddly enough, none of the songs it located seem to currently be on their MySpace).
Anyhow, the site clearly has its flaws, but it seems like a good tool. Especially if you, let's say, have "Young Turks" stuck in your head and want to hear it for free at work. I mean, just for example.