Spotify’s disruption of the iTunes model of digital music distribution is still a contentious issue in the music industry, and startups like Drip.fm are continuing the quest for the ideal artist-label-fan relationship. Recently, Ghostly International announced a partnership with Stones Throw Records, the indie hip hop label home to Homeboy Sandman, Madlib, Aloe Blacc and others. It’s a hybrid model where users subscribe for ten dollars a month and receive any and all Stones Throw releases directly in their inbox as 320 kbps MP3 files, with no 'DRM' restrictions of any kind. “Drip.fm was born out of the idea that labels are filters of content,” Miguel Senquiz of Drip.fm tells Hive. "Great labels with a story and a strong brand, like Warp or Blue Note, have dedicated fans who in a lot of ways have become ‘buy on sight’ fans or super fans.” Fans who subscribe today will automatically receive Stones Throw’s latest three releases, and should expect five albums over the next six months, with a scattering of singles, EPs and other goodies in between. This is the second of such partnerships Drip.fm has created, having done something similar with Dirtybird records at the top of the year.
For Stones Throw, this represents an opportunity to price their content as they see fit and create a direct-to-consumer relationship. “[It’s] a way for us to take a little but more control of this stuff with folks that we work with and trust 100%,” explains Havana Joe of Stones Throw. "[But] we are always going to release music via iTunes and services like Spotify.” What makes Drip.fm unique, though, is awareness that the bond between fan and label is a special species of affection. Besides just new releases, subscribers can expect select gems from the back catalog, exclusive advance material, and otherwise unreleased mixes and sessions from Stones Throw artists, creating an unparalleled value dollar for dollar for super fans of the label. “Music distribution is going through some massive reconfiguring right now, but people will always want to hear music, so distribution channels that are easy for the end listener fans will continue to grow and flourish,” adds Miguel. Automatically dropped into our inbox sounds easy enough for us.