While the rest of the digital music news takes place at SXSW this week, Bridge Nine Records, an indie punk label outside of Boston, launched a digital music subscription service exclusive to its roster.
The service is a premium option for the label's social networking community, theB9.com. For $4 per month or $30 per year, members can subscribe to the service and access the label's entire roster of more than 100 albums. It also lets them create their own URL on the community site where they can make playlists for other users to stream. Other bonus features are on the horizon as well.
"The way people access music is continually changing," Bridge Nine owner Chris Wrenn writes on the company's blog. "By launching this streaming player, we're trying to change with it and meet the needs of our bands fans by not only making all of their music and releases more accessible, but to also by giving people an inexpensive way to show their support."
Bridge Nine launched theB9.com online community in 2002, and it now claims some 80,000 members (about 60,000 are listed as "active," according to Wrenn), who to date have used it to post messages, read news, check tour information and buy or sell items.
This is an interesting twist by a relatively small label. We've not heard of any other label offering its own subscription music service before.
On one hand, paying $4 per month for access to only 100 or so albums doesn't seem like that great of a deal when services like MOG and Rdio start out at $5 per month for a catalog of millions (increasing to $10 per month for mobile access).
But some of the acts on Bridge Nine and other specialty labels don't appear in those other services. And more importantly, this isn't meant to replicate the experience of those other music service, but rather monetize an online community that has clearly shown an interest in the label and its roster.
We'll check back in with Bridge Nine in a few months to see how this experiment fares.