Internet IS disintermediation. It removes boundaries between services/product producers and consumers.
Which means that if your business model consists in standing between them, as a gatekeeper, then you have a positioning problem. Record companies have been learning this the hard way during the last decade.
We all know about Myspace and how musicians made their work popular before signing a contract with a record company (think Lily Allen and Arctic Monkeys).
It looks like even this time is over : the music industry business model is now getting a step further towards disintermediation with the smart, cheap and beautiful Pomplamoose.
Video Songs from Standford.edu
Nataly Dawn and Jack Conte met in Standford University. They both come from a family where music is all around the house and both started playing instrument and singing very young.
The video song concept is inspired by the mid 90s Danish Dogma 95 avant garde film making movement. The idea is a) do it yourself approach b) shoot the musicians while recording and c) edit the music and video so that e) all the sources of sound are displayed on a split screen during the clip.
They’ve been doing both covers (Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, Earth Wind & Fire -see below- etc …) and own material (Pas Encore the video above).
There are many musical influences, though all pop and elaborate, their choices say it all. Nataly voices sometimes reminds Stina Nordesntam for the background vocals arrangements, but the main influence is Feist (whose The Reminder album is a masterpiece of quiet and intimate pop songs). Their cover of Gatekeeper from the latter is quite evocative of the voice similarity.
With their video songs (editing, images), one can see the influence of Lasse Gjersten, another Youtube star and symbol of the internet culture.
Dongle and crowdsourcing
This fresh, arty and DIY approach made them superstars on Youtube (hundred of thousands views) and they decided to sell their stuff on iTunes and on home made Pomplamoose dongles.
For their music artwork, they decided to crowdsource it. And as usual with any band event, they announced the result on another youtube video.
Who needs a record company ?
So far they’ve sold about 20,000 songs on iTunes and according to the Wall Street Journal blog they declined Major Labels (Warner, Sony, Universal) proposal and remain free of any record company contracts. Instead they decided to carry on and only use Youtube (their pomplamoose channel) as a mean to communicate and exchange with their fans.
Derek Sivers has seen it coming and made a handy lifehacking book on the topic : How to call attention to your music.
It used to be that, as a musician, only 10% of your career was up to you. “Getting discovered” was about all you could do. A few gatekeepers controlled ALL outlets. You had to impress one of these magic few people to be allowed to present your music to the world. (Even then, they assigned you a manager, stylist, producer, band, etc.) As of the last few years, now 90% of your career is up to you. You have all the tools to make it happen.
Disintermediation has lovely green eyes, a heartbreaking voice, mischievious musical arrangements, and engage in casual conversations that are fun to watch on youtube.