Despite heavy hype last summer,
ad-supported music remains a theoretical discussion. From a broader
perspective, players like MySpace have tapped music to drive a larger,
ad-supported model. But a narrower approach, one that features music
acquisition within an advertising context, remains mostly untested.
SpiralFrog, once the center of a media-fueled tempest, has failed to
materialize less than one year after it first bubbled. The company
grabbed critical early buy-in from Universal Music Group in late August, and followed with deals involving EMI Music Publishing and BMI. Other licensing pacts were also disclosed, though sources pointed to a deeply troubled group
by late January. That information was supported by the departure of a
number of SpiralFrog executives, including its chief executive, Robin
Kent. The company appeared ready for a resuscitation following those
departures, though little has emerged since.
Just recently, Kent and former chief sales and marketing officer Lance Ford announced a new venture called Rebel Digital, an advertising consultancy focused on digital music. According to information received on Monday, the company will focus its energies on blue chip advertisers seeking to establish relationships with digital music fans. Rebel Digital will sell advertising, develop marketing plans, drive incremental traffic and provide technical solutions for music destinations seeking a monetization strategy. "We chose the music sector as this is one that is desirable to both a young target audience and advertisers alike," Kent said. "We know advertisers and the music community have a strong desire to partner and we believe we can help facilitate this." The first client for Rebel Digital is Qtrax, a lesser-known upstart that has accomplished far more licensing traction than its once-rival SpiralFrog. Qtrax, which just inked a licensing deal with Sony BMG, is planning the launch of an advertising-supported P2P in September.