Whether Death Grips' leaking their album No Love Deep Web for free on to the web was a marketing stunt or a brazen move done without the consent of their record company, Epic Records, was answered last Friday in a statement issued by the label.
"Epic Records is a music first company that breaks new artists," a statement read. "Unfortunately, when marketing and publicity stunts trump the actual music, we must remind ourselves of our core values."
Yes ,Epic have dropped the noise-rap punk band from their roster. It was never going to work out.
The website Grooveshark has agitated the music industry for much longer than Death Grips. For five years, it has pitched itself as an online streaming music service a la Spotify. Except very few of the songs featured are authorised by labels or artists, meaning that musicians don't make any money from people listening to their music on the site.
After going through a series of label lawsuits to that end from retroactively trying to get the labels on board, Grooveshark has turned its attention to the artists direct by implementing the micro-payment system Flattr on the site.
The idea that you can throw a small amount of money in the artist's tip jar directly for streaming their music for free is a worthy one.
There's so much music available for listening to on the web these days that there's really not an onus for people to actually own the music. When music is available like water, how do you make money from it so more can be made? Spotify's answer is primarily subscription revenue, YouTube's answer is pay the labels and artists per stream, while Soundcloud or Bandcamp streams don't make money for artists per play.
At least Grooveshark's Flattr model pays artists direct (as long as they sign up to Flattr) for streaming their album. It's still not be as good as buying directly from Bandcamp or digitally purchasing from iTunes, but it is an extra revenue pot for musicians.