Songslide: Pick Your Price

By JoCo June 26, 2007

Ever since I came across Jane Siberry’s online store I’ve wanted to try offering that same kind of flexible pricing – when you buy her music, you decide what you want to pay for it. From what I hear, even though everyone who buys has the option of getting it free, generally the average price per song tends to stay much higher than a dollar. That is, until she gets some press – then the non-fans come out and screw up the curve.

I don’t have the chops (or the time or the will) to figure out how to set up a shopping cart that does that, so I was happy to hear about Songslide – they do pretty much the same thing, except there are high and low boundaries. When you’re picking the price you can see exactly how much money the artist gets. Most of my music is available there now, and they were kind enough to make me the artist of the week for this week. If you’ve been meaning to buy music from me but thought a dollar per song was too expensive (or cheap), now is the time…


Margaret says

How about I just give you a $10 next time I see you and not have to register on yet another site?

I'm half kidding. I love the transparency idea- I seem to remember Music Rebellion did something similar where items with more demand were priced higher and back catalog stuff was priced lower, which I thought was a neat concept.

JoCo says

I hear you - I wish there was a universal internet identity thingie. But yes, I'll get that tenner from you sometime in THE FUTURE.

sporksmith says

JC - don't worry, it's gonna be the future soon.

Don says

To bad I already bough everything...

Gle3nn says

Which way of purchasing the music makes you the most money, if we have a choice?
I originally bought the songs through Itunes since I didn't have a paypal account. But I have since tossed the Ipod and got a cool machine that does what I want it to do without voiding a warranty.

Shahaf says

What is the benefit from buying a song in a higher price? If someone like a song he can buy it from here and donate the sum he thinks you deserve, wihtout giving some of it to Songslide.

Dean says

Why not put a button or link on the website that people can donate to Jonathan through paypal, etc? If someone feels inclined to throw money his way to keep him going, then there it is.

JoCo says

There are donate links on all the lyrics pages, and buried somewhere deep within the General Info area of the site. I used to have the link more prominently displayed, but donations were never that much of my income. Donations can now be done through the bananas, monkeys and robots box in the sidebar, though this is also underutilized (and poorly explained).

I generally make the most money from sales through my online store, but it depends on how much you're buying at the time - paypal takes a cut, and payloadz charges a flat fee on a sliding scale depending on how much I sell that month. Most other places involve additional, more expensive middlemen, so it's a good bet I make less there. Songslide takes anywhere from 10% to 40% depending on what you pay (and they show you the numbers as you choose the price). We're all still trying to figure out what things work and what don't, so I'm happy to make my stuff available in lots of different places - I'm particularly curious about what happens to my stuff at Songslide.

Dean says

OK, so how much do I have to donate in order to get an instrumental version of "Make You Cry"?

Luke M says

Dean, have you checked the karaoke store?

I buy a banana whenever I have a fin to spare. The Octopus video session should have spurred more candy than it seemed to ... maybe people don't realize what that is.

Shahaf says

Are the smaller albums, like WTMW, supposed to cost the same as the bigger ones? (and even their minimum price there is more expensive than in here)

JoCo says

They probably aren't set up for pricing EPs correctly - they're pretty much in beta, so I'm sure it's on their list...

Dean says


I'm an idiot (no, I didn't know about the Karaoke Store). Is there such a thing as website agoraphobia? I seem to hover around the main page and the songs page, not venturing further. I did try the "Hear" option on "Make You Cry" and it still has the vocals. If I purchase the song, will my version come without? Does anyone know?

Luke M says

AFAIK the reason you are hearing vocals is that the Listen function works from the main Info page and links to the regular MP3. I have not bought karaoke yet myself, but it seems like the whole point would be to have it be instrumental only. I'll go buy that song myself and let you know, it's a good choice for an instrumental and I see I have a dollar lying here on my desk ;)

Luke M says

OK, this is interesting. "Karaoke" evidently means that the MAIN vocal track has been removed, but the harmony vocals are still there. So it's not really an instrumental.

Of course, JoCo wants to put all his source tracks online, at which point you could make a true instrumental version of "Make You Cry" (and I could turn down that dratted beeping in the final verse of "The Future Soon").

Armed with this track, in any case, I am sure to be the hit of the next local karaoke gathering.

Dean says

Luke, thanks for pioneering that for us. Since JoCo is using Garage Band it shouldn't be much of a problem for him to hide tracks with vocals and re-produce instrumental versions. That's up to him, of course. I might just dig in the sofa cushions for enough loose change to kick down for my own karaoke copy. :0)

dreamwraith says

I am just waiting on those FLAC versions man :)

Luke M says


FLAC versions are here.

Looks pretty legit to me. Don't think I've seen it on the blog, though. Comments?

CarrieP says

The karaoke junkie, er expert, says that, yeah, karaoke versions only have the main vocals, not the background vocals, removed. Think of it this way: If you are in a seedy bar singing karaoke, it's going to be just you up there. So, to make you sound as close to the real thing as possible, those background vocals need to be there to fill out the sound.

JoCo says

That FLAC site is legit - it's one of the digital stores I'm in through CDBaby. I didn't know they were selling FLAC versions though, that's awesome.

JY says lets you sell MP3 downloads on their site, and I'm pretty sure their commision is only 20 cents on a 99cent download. And I'm also led to believe that there is no minimum purchase for someone who wants to buy just one MP3.


compwalla says

After mooching forever, I finally also bought everything. I am dimly aware that there are other artists on my ipod but for the moment, it's all JoCo, all the time.

Nat JM says

It's interesting to read this discussion about different ways of selling music.

As a music fan, i rely on Napster subscription service but i also buy MP3s direct from the artist's website if not available on Napster. I have never made an online donation to a musician to date, but i have made donations to freeware apps, anywhere from $10 to $100, so i can see myself making a donation to a musician one day. I have also bought a fair amount of "high-profit-margin" merchandise direct from the bands, happy that they made money this way.

As an artist, i currently use a fairly usual format - my tracks are available to stream on my website and i sell downloads via PayLoadz. I also use CD Baby and, for my new stuff, Tunecore, to sell my music on iTunes and the likes. It's working fine for me but, unlike JoCo, i rely on my day job for a big chunk of my income.

I've known a lot of independent bands over the years and for bands with an established fanbase, the best money spinner has always been tee-shirts. Not tee-shirts that you outsource from a website that prints them on demand, but tee-shirts ordered in lots of 100. However, it does require you keep stock and go down the post office to post them - it's fairly easy to do as a band but as a one-man or one-woman operation, it's one more thing you have to do, along with writing songs, recording, mixing, rehearsing, carrying your CDs to your show etc

Davros says

Wacky. I thought of Jane Siberry the first time I read JoCo post about the business side of things, despite how different their music is. It never occured to me that he may have heard of her, let alone post an entry citing her.
Anyway, I liked Jane Siberry quite a bit back in the day and just wanted to recommend to everyone to check her website out.

mathew says

I have no problem with a dollar per song, if you get the FLAC thing sorted out...