By Jason Epstein
Not long ago, I spoke with CEO and co-founder Sam Valenti about the new direct-to-you music service, drip.fm. They feature perks from labels and artists, top-quality audio, and even advance releases. Today, I’m going in a bit deeper and giving the service a shot by testing out one of their associated labels. Jagjaguwar, an indie rock label from Bloomington, Indiana has been around for 16 years and has put out music from such artists as Dinosaur Jr., Oneida, Volcano Choir, and Bon Iver. Drip.fm users that sign up for the services of this indie label will be pleasantly surprised to see just how much they give, both digitally and physically to their fans, as evidenced here from their August 29 blog entry: -”-we’re giving away a test pressing of Dinosaur Jr.’s new album, I Bet On Sky, plus the first 20 fans to subscribe will receive a vinyl record on the third month of their membership!”
Upon logging in, the dashboard for each label you’ve subscribed to contains a featured release section, upcoming music, latest updates, and your music library. It’s easy to navigate through and features large images and intuitive functionality. On Jagjaguwar’s dashboard, artist S. Carey’s 4-song, 18-minute September 3 release is the current feature. There’s a description of the album and artist along with the album cover and each song, ready to be streamed or downloaded at 128 or 320 kbps mp3s or WAV files. With Hoyas, S. Carey, (best known as the drummer and backup vocalist of indie folk group Bon Iver), delivers his second solo album, featuring a plethora of sounds that blend together beautifully. Horns, vocals, electronic beats and atmospheric keyboard flourishes bring a sense of calm and sound like they could be featured on the soundtrack of a non-violent indie sci-fi flick.
I also checked out Foxygen, but instead of streaming, downloaded it as a 320k zip file. The download was instantaneous and brought Foxygen’s 7-song, 36-minute Take the Kids off Broadway zip-file right to my hard drive, ready to be unzipped and listened to immediately. Foxygen’s Rolling Stones-esque take on indie rock can be a bit spasmodic at times, but often finds itself in solid guitar and piano-driven territory that threatens to make you dance at any given moment.
Drip.fm has managed to create a music service that differs from iTunes, Pandora and Spotify so much so that it’s almost sacrilege I’m even mentioning them in the same sentence. Jagjaguwar’s subscription costs $15/month gives you complete access to their DRM-free music and allows you to cancel at any time. They promise at least two albums per month (some new releases and some that are just new to drip.fm), the ability to access your content anywhere at any time and lots of exclusive t-shirt, poster, vinyl, CD and concert ticket giveaways.