On the Money: Hello Music and Slacker

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Slacker, the popular Internet radio platform with more than two million songs, has recently announced a partnership with a new music service called Hello Music. It’s significant in that the partnership will enable emerging and unsigned artists, for the first time, to have their music played on Slacker’s stations.

Hello Music, founded in January 2010 by former Virgin Music guys Zack Zalon and Brendon Cassidy, will function like an Internet-age A&R service: collecting submissions like music, bio and photos and finding placement and marketing opportunities for artists with partners like Slacker, as well as Yahoo! Music, Getty Images and Topspin Media. The good news from Hello Music is that, unlike similar services such as Taxi, Pump Audio and SonicBids, there is no up-front cost to submit. Hello Music will earn a commission when the placement opportunities they land for artists lead to actual revenue.

At the annual South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, this past March, Slacker and Hello Music teamed up with Filter magazine as sponsors in the “Showdown at Cedar Street.” The parties, held from March 18-20 and brimming with a great line-up of buzz bands and established artists like Dr. Dog, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Miike Snow, were a must-see for many festivalgoers, with long lines extending down the block on 4th Street. Slacker and Hello Music used the event as ground zero to get in front of potential users.

“There were a lot of one-on-one discussions with artists and management there,” Jonathan Sasse, VP of Marketing for Slacker says. “I think, overall, the reception has been great for the partnership, because I think people are seeing the opportunity to get their music into a very popular service.”

The struggle for many, Sasse continues, is in navigating the myriad Web-based outlets and opportunities available for emerging artists. Hello Music thus will serve as a sort of aggregator of these opportunities. “With the new process set up with Hello Music, it’s very easy for artists to just go into the Web site and submit their content,” according to Sasse. And, more importantly, when an artist does submit to Hello Music, Slacker will automatically create a personalized station for that artist. “It’s the same type of station we’d create for any band, regardless of popularity.”

And, with the barriers of entry removed, new music is open to the kind of social and fan interactions that can help break an act. “If the artist has a fan base, even a small one, those fans are going to be searching for that artist and making their own stations based on that artist,” says Sasse. “They’re adding other artists that they think are related. [Slacker’s programmers] will start to see those relationships form, and it gives us an opportunity to start pulling even more artists in, and the station just gets better and better over time.”

And unlike some services where an artist’s music may wait months in the wings and, in some cases, never show up, Sasses describes Hello Music and Slacker’s system as “very automatic.” The submission process is live at the time of press and, by May 2010, the first additions will start propagating through Slacker. “Once the process of pulling content from Hello Music has started, it will probably only be a few weeks from the point of submission to the music actually being played on our service,” says Sasse. In a sea of chance for indie artists, it seems like a safe bet.

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