A few weeks ago, Will.I.Am came to Google and talked about how he makes music. In that discussion, he talked about his new record company, Musicane.com. What makes Musicane so different than an EMI, BMG, etc? Is it the fact a musician created the company? No, it's the entire business model that just might be what the music industry needs to address the new digital era.
Rather than trying to get a record deal, why not distribute your music online? That's what Musicane provides you, a distribution channel direct to consumers. You can upload any content (be it music, videos, ringtones, etc), set the price and watch the money roll in. Like any record label, they have to take a cut and that seems variable according to their website. But you still keep up to 80% of each sale. Think about that, you get to keep up to $0.80 for every $1.00 you sell. With 1 million downloads of a song you create, that could be $800,000 in your pocket (pre-tax of course).
The website itself is very 2.0 and plugs into other sites quite nicely. Will.I.Am gave a demo where he created a ringtone at Google, then uploaded it to Musicane and then linked that upload on his BlackEyedPeas.com website profile. There was a slick Flash interface that had a demo of the clip and a checkout button to purchase the ringtone.
An artist can upload their content in a matter of minutes and have it available for sale to everyone connected to the Internet. This seems like only the first step and this model can be improved upon in the months and years to come. But it seems like the first right step to give more power to the artist and the consumer. Supply and demand will dictate whether this business model will be successful (hopefully the supply is high quality). I for one will be part of the demand if the supply is there.