Digital music piracy remains rife. It’s a black hole for artists and labels, and their best efforts to contain the problem have perhaps not been adequate. That leaves opportunity for others, and the latest solution comes from an unexpected place. A founder of the infamous torrent site Pirate Bay has launched a new micro-payment service that offers the ability to compensate artists directly for their content.
Operating on what is essentially a “pay what you like” model, Flattr lets downloaders set a monthly budget ($2 minimum) of how much they want to give to artists. Every time they download an illegal file, they have the option, by hitting the Flattr button, of donating an equal share of that budget to the artist behind it. But Flattr has also teamed up with Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram, Flickr and Vimeo, meaning all your “likes” and “favourites” on those services can be included in the share. Flattr passes on 90% of the revenue their content accrues, when artists claim it.
Alternative models have been few and far between, and artists may like the idea of bypassing labels for compensation. The service seeks to legitimise a consumer culture, rather than change it per se. And we wonder if separately, it may one day form part of the answer to another fundamental question: ‘what is the value of a Facebook like?’