The ‘airtime’ Model: Making Music Viral While Meeting People Online


The business and distribution models talked about in Chapter 21 of MMW mainly focus on elements such as “downloading culture” (Deuze, 240), in which artists try to become well-known and successful by optimizing online revenue streams.

The article I chose is interesting to me because it seems to introduce a new kind of distribution and business model from the ones that have emerged in the past decade. Instead of operating out of the “downloading culture” space, in which bands like Radiohead release their songs in low-quality to entice their fans to buy the full quality versions of their songs (Deuze, 240-241), Shawn Parker and Shawn Fanning are attempting to entice social media users to pay for music by meeting people at the same time.

Whereas Spotify offers a way to share music with one’s friends on Facebook that one already knows, airtime is about meeting new people. Though the specifics are vague for now, the business and distribution models are clear.

‘airtime’ offers a way in which users can purchase music while meeting people and at the same time, making songs viral. This is different from the traditional models in the past decade because it hinges on the idea of virality through social media. Virality, the principle behind social media in general, when integrated with music, has potential for interesting outcomes. Whereas before, software such as Napster, Itunes, and similar music distribution software did not offer such a way to share and to have music, airtime does.

With the music industry being one that is extremely litigious (Deuze, 237-240), that with the combination of creators, Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker, who faced lawsuits of huge magnitudes in the past for Napster, it will be interesting to see what kinds of legal action the RIAA will take seeing how their strategy has historically been one that is to sue.

–       Dan Schiffman



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