Facebook has quickly become the social media site. With over
250 500 million users, it's the hub for ordinary folks to keep in touch with their favorite musicians, websites and friends. It's because of this domination in the social media circle that local Facebook app developer Jeff Lange, aka Digi Jeff, has started a new service called Freeload.
Freeload is a service that aims to give musicians and other artists a chance to connect directly with fans by offering exclusive content through their profile. Unlike throwing up a few MP3 on their website and linking to it, Freeload allows artists to control when and how it gets unlocked to users. For instance, the first musician to use the app was hip-hop artist Paul Wall, who set Freeload up to "unlock" after 200 users clicked on the link, all the while Wall is able to collect email accounts (legitimately, of course, according to the Terms of Service) of his fans.
The "click-to-unlock" option is just one of three different methods an artist can use; the others being a timed release for a future date and an immediately available release. Once an individual downloads a track or album, a link is posted back on their wall, meaning one person is automatically linking back to hundreds more. Hopefully creating a ripple effect.
"It was really cool watching people yesterday working to unlock Paul Wall's release," says Lange, "They did it in about three hours." The second major test-run of the app will happen on December 14, when Diego Cash releases his new mix tap, Honorable Mention through the service.
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The pricing behind it is pretty simple; musicians buy the app from a Facebook marketplace called Appbistro for one of two prices, $399 (!) for the standard edition and $149 for the lite version. The standard edition has an unlimited unlock height and all the, uh, standard features, while the lite one cuts the limit down to 100 "unlocks" and lacks the e-mail gathering tools of the big-boy version. After that, they install it on their Facebook profile and they're good to go.
Overall, the service hopes to turn Facebook into a viable music sharing platform, and with everything happening automatically, it requires little to no technical expertise. That said, it's not constrained to music, any file could work -- so folks looking to drop off a video or software onto the service would be able to take advantage of it as well.
The idea of crowdsourcing the release of exclusive content is certainly an interesting one and one that has required a bit of technical expertise to pull off successfully in the past. Only time will tell if Freeload will be able to catch on.