music is the language of us all

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I know this blog is being severely neglected (I just tend to put everything on Twitter now), but if I want to write quite a bit about something, I guess I’ll still post it here.

Someone on Twitter posted about a new Australian-based online music service called Guvera. Its principle is free music streaming and downloading, paid for by targeted advertising. I love music, and I love free stuff – win win for me. So I was in.

You can register for a beta account at Guvera.com – I was worried that being in ‘beta’ might make it tough to get an account… but within a few minutes, I got an email saying my account was ready. Don’t know how readily they’ll be dishing out accounts, or when it will go completely “public” or out of beta – but there’s nothing to stop you from registering an account. I logged in, and was directed to update my profile in order to get “credits”. Essentially this just involves going through 11 different categories and saying what you like in each section… so that the advertising is aimed at you. Don’t totally understand the whole “credits” thing.

Once that was completed, it was onto the music. First thing was that the streaming wasn’t working – both at work on my PC using IE and on my Mac using Safari. Little bit annoying. But the downloading works perfectly.

It seems to all be done based on ‘channels’ – each channel is an advertiser who then sponsors those downloads. Whether that happens in actual fact, or whether money just changes hands in bulk amounts that’s then paid onto the record companies, it isn’t clear. Doesn’t matter I guess. But when you search for a song, you’re presented with a handful of channels who’re offering that song. And you visit their page, which is filled with plenty of info about their product, and you can then download a 256kbps MP3 of the song.

Pretty sweet deal.

So what’s the catch? There doesn’t seem to be one – just that there’s copious amounts of advertising. But that’s obvious based on the fact that those guys are paying for your music. And another very minor downside is that you don’t have the ability to download full albums – you have to search for and download all the individual tracks, but again, this is expected because you therefore have to see more advertising to get your music. There’s a bundle of terms & conditions, but none of them seem anything much different to what you’d expect from an online music store (such as iTunes) – it just states that your login is for your personal use only, and that when you download the song, you receive one licence to play the music only on your personal equipment. Nothing out of the ordinary there.

As for the music available – Guvera say they have the whole catalogues of EMI, Vigin and Capitol (pretty much just EMI) on board right now, and say they’re working on IODA, Universal and the rest of the world’s music. Presumably, when they say “the rest of the world’s music”, that will also include Warner and Sony. Really, if we just do some generalisation of the Big Four music labels (EMI, Universal, Sony & Warner), they’ve only got 25% of the world’s music at the moment. But it is only in beta I guess. They do say in the registration email that throughout 2010 they are “expanding available music to every major music artist in the world.” That’s a big statement. But hopefully it will mean that the missing labels of Warner, Sony & Universal aren’t far away.

Legitimacy? Well, I am very certain this is totally legit. From what I understand, there have been press releases about Guvera, and they’ve been saying loud and proud that they have EMI and Universal on board. Their company is based in Queensland, and so I’m sure that they would’ve been quickly and swiftly dealt with by those music lawyers had any of this not been legit. So fear not.

As far as artists getting paid any more or less than, say, iTunes Music Store? As far as I understand, it doesn’t make a squat of difference whether you pay $1.69 per song, or whether you deal with looking at ads and download it for free now via Guvera – the record company is still getting whatever fee the outlet (iTMS or Guvera or Bigpond) has negotiated with the individual record label, and thus the artist then gets their agreed royalty that they have with their record label. It’s just that Guvera have set up their company to have advertisers pay them plenty of money to cover all their charges to the record companies.

I’ll certainly be looking to use it next time I think of an album or songs that I want – advertising sucks me in any normal time… surely I can’t be that much worse off looking at a little more to get some music :) And I’ll just say a big thanks to McDonalds or Contiki or Bacardi ¬†for buying me some new music.

I think it’s great to see something like this in Australia – the US have a bundle of free music streaming sites (that are strictly for US users), but I’m not actually sure if they have anything like this where they can download music for free. But at the moment, Guvera is strictly Australian – run by a company in Queensland, solely for Australians. Pretty cool.

And I like the sounds of something in their ‘about’ section: And if that’s not cool enough, film & TV isn’t too far behind.

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