The 1967 Byrds classic song, "So You Want to Be a Rock and Roll Star" includes a memorable verse: "Sell your soul to the company/Who are waiting there to sell plastic ware." And that's the way it was for so many artists for so long. With digital, Apple, adaptivity, that's all changed. And one company aims to take it a step further.
Part social media platform, part e-retailer, and part Pandora, reKiosk is a new marketplace for self-publishing artists. The community gives artists and curators with similar tastes and passions the chance to discover great new indie bands or lesser-known authors.
The way it works, creators can retain as much as 95 percent of each sale because the middleman gets cut out. Users sell directly to their friends, fans and followers through integrated social networks. Any user who buys a digital file can then become a distributor, selling to their own sets of friends and followers and retaining 25 percent of each subsequent sale. Meanwhile, the file's original creator always reaps 70 percent of every sale.
Coined as an alternative distribution solution for independent creatives, reKiosk is the first socially networked, all-in-one solution to offer individual creators, labels, publishers and anyone interested in promoting indie media a free and easy way to sell and market digital media. "reKiosk is a way to sell directly to your fans, and have your fans sell for you. We believe that the digital age means that writers and musicians shouldn't have to give their products away - we're solving the distribution crisis by creating a platform that allows anyone, anywhere, to open a digital storefront and sell what they love," says co-founder, Aziz Isham.
I had my friend and music artist Rob Cox register for the company's service. A quick sync with this Facebook or Twitter account, followed by some registration and commissions payment information, and he was rolling. Some audio file and image uploads, and he had his first offering posted in minutes. As a marketplace goes, this one's pretty easy to get up and running.
But while reKiosk is built upon the concept of selling music directly to fans, the site's real focus is placed on having fans sell for you. No longer am I just announcing what I'm listening to Rob's to as a Facebook post, I've included a link to my kiosk where you too can get the same track. It's interest, meets opportunity, meets action with a Pinterest-esque visual layout that's heavy on imagery and color.
With increased challenges facing independent artists and authors, reKiosk proudly wears "indy" on its sleeve. To avoid fees related to per-song micropayments., the company uses Dwolla rather than PayPal and processes payments once a month. In this ecosystem, everyone's on a level playing field. The marketplace boasts no ads and no special treatment for big companies. In Blekko-like form, searching is curated by people, not algorithms, and sharing is integrated into all the main social media platforms.
Going forward, I'd like to see greater integration with YouTube and the powers of video marketing. A quick search now yields a paltry three results--one in Japanese.
Some sort of calendar / tour information would be great, too. I know my friend Rob is playing at the Red Devil Lounge here in SF tonight, it'd be a great two-in-one to buy a track and have the show details sms'd to me at the same time. But things are off to a good start with reKiosk, and I'm eager to see how things progress.
The sentiment among artists and social media enthusiasts is one of excitement for the new platform, and a collective hope that it takes off. If it does, the final verses of the Byrds' classic should hold true for Rob and other independent artists who use it:"The money, the fame, and the public acclaim/Don't forget who you are/You're a rock and roll star."