Fairtunes is a free, voluntary, digital music payment system that allows music fans to voluntarily send money to, compensate or tip, any artist for their work. Fairtunes empowers any artist to receive money online in the form of a voluntary payment. “

Fairtunes was a company formed in the year 2000 that then got bought up and renamed to Musiclink in 2002. In the Musiclink version, the “sending-money-to-music-creator”-feature was disabled. The founders got weblogs where you can find related information: Matt Goyer and John Cormie.

The idea, was to enable users to send money to music creators.

It soon got quite extensive press coverage:

Remember, this was back in 2000/2001.

Matt Rigaux commented on the article Moving the goal recently this year (2008):

“During the first bubble, a friend of mine had a site in 2000 called Fairtunes.com, which was a “tipping service”. If you wanted the labels out of the way in order to pay the artist directly for their work, you could send money to Fairtunes and they would remit cheques to the managers of whatever artist you chose. In the beginning they were sending $2.00 cheques to people like David Bowie, but it was early, and it was more of a signal of what was possible than anything else.

Their model relied on the honor system, in that of course not everyone was going to voluntarily pay artists for songs they download for free, but some would, and the theory was that this would approximately equal what the artist would get from higher volume sales – LESS the labels’ cut. Great idea, and they got national attention due to the Napster craze, but to Fred’s point, there was too much friction in the process of getting money to them that most didn’t adopt it and it fizzled out.

For me personally, the most frictionless way to get this done would be if a service pennies just got added to my monthly internet or cell phone bill, and I got to make one payment a month for all my music. My part of the process would be complete and it would be out of my hands, and the service would just remit transaction fees back to the carriers, artists, managers, labels, etc.

Would love to see a Fairtunes model re-emerge, but to make it frictionless, the payments have to be digital, added on to existing things I’m locked into paying for regularly, and divisible fairly amongst the stakeholders that created the content and enabled that frictionless payment.”

I second that. That is an exciting solution to a unpractical problem.

Why havn’t anyone tried since then?

2 thoughts on “Fairtunes

  1. Today, it’s so easy to either get legal music through iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody or Zune, etc or to buy directly from the artist because of outfits like CDBaby that I don’t think a system like Fairtunes is necessary.

    Good idea while it lasted though :).

  2. Yeah, but here in Sweden, not all of those services exist. The closest thing to Fairtunes as I know of today is Jamendo and the thing Radiohead did with ‘In Rainbows’.

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