Paul’s iOpener toselling his music

February 16, 2005 at 9:23 am | Posted in digital downloads, emusu, music | Leave a comment

By Martin Faint, Birmingham Post

A 55-year-old folk-singing grandfather from Birmingham is among the first to take advantage of a revolutionary new system that allows independent musicians to sell and market their work online.

Paul Murphy – who also runs high-tech educational company C21Vox – will release his new album through Musiccontrol.com, a Birmingham start-up featured in The Post last month.

The launch will make him the first folk singer to take advantage of the system.

“This is very liberating for musicians,” the folk-poet says with bounding enthusiasm. “It allows you to set up your own labels and distribute your work all at once. It’s fantastic.”

Paul believes it promises to tackle the greatest bugbear of all unsigned acts – the sad fact that their entrepreneurialism rarely gets their recordings a wide audience.

“The biggest problem facing independent people producing their own materials is then how to distribute them,” he said. “Few independent distributors get into the shops, but this shortcuts the whole process and takes musicians direct to the buyer.”

With the rise of sites such as Apple’s iTunes, a generation of iPod-wearing music-lovers has become used to buying songs and albums using a home computer.

Musiccontrol now offers independent spirits such as Paul the chance to bypass the established record labels – while still having access to a professional, easily editable website.

“It potentially offers a lot of people a new incentive to keep recording,” Paul said before a gig at The Roadhouse pub in Stirchley last night. “When you think of the punk period – the reaction against the corporates spurred on a vibrant independent scene.

“This is liberating, you can get known using viral marketing and the like and then use this.” The business has changed a lot since Paul’s first experience of the music industry, trawling the record companies of London’s Denmark Lane at the age of 16 to sell his songs.

“They called it Tinpan Alley,” he laughs. “In those days you could sell songs, prior to recording, by walking into publishers and having your material listened to. That soon vanished and became very complicated and lots of the independent labels got swallowed up.”

Paul believes that with technology such as Musiccontrol, a new era of opportunity is beckoning for those with the talent, but not necessarily the stomach for the established music industry.

“With this new click-andbuy system, people can get paid for the tunes rather than having to give them away for free. I can see lots of people making use of it.”

Part of the appeal to independents is the licensing system which guarantees the holder of the rights a cut of the sale, says Chris Thompson, who founded Musiccontrol and recently appeared on the BBC business angel show Dragon’s Den to raise cash for it.

” This really empowers independents to make a commercial offering,” he says. “To all intents and purposes it is their own record label online.”

But the offering has proved popular not just with individual bands but also smaller labels eager to cut their administration costs, Chris added. He currently has five signed up, and is talking to 30 more. Each can make its own website which is not associated with Musiccontrol.

Songs are sold for whatever price the label specifies and the label gets back 90 per cent of the net revenues. And a link-up with the Music Alliance ensures royalties are paid to the rights holders.

These are clearly exciting times for both Chris and Paul – whose first grandchild, Meg, was born into this increasingly connected world on Monday.

A few months after going to Australia on a trade trip, it strikes Paul that with this new technology, he can now sell his album there from the moment of its launch.

“I sensed parallels of interest in Australia, now I can get my stuff out there very easily,” Paul says.

* The Paul Murphy Ensemble will play at The Ceol Castle on Moseley Road on February 24. Paul’s work can be found at www.c21vox.tv.

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