Icelandic social music marketplace gogoyoko has expanded their open Beta to cover the whole of Scandinavia. The service now works in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Faroe Islands and Greenland. gogoyoko's tagline is bringing "Fair Play" back into the music business - through the service music fans can purchase music directly from the artists and labels. gogoyoko's service consists of a music store, a social network, and free streaming music player.
For artists and other music right holders gogoyoko offers a platform for creating their online destination and managing the sale, promotion, and distribution of their music. Through the service music fans can interact directly with the artists and purchase music from gogoyoko's music store without middlemen. Artists have full control over the pricing of their music, and get 100% of the profits. Users can access their music collection online or download it to any portable device - there is no DRM used.
gogoyoko also features a free ad supported streaming functionality of all songs. It is possible to use the streaming player widget also on other web sites. Artists get a share of the advertisement revenues based on the streaming of their music, and there is also a direct buy button to purchase the song being played.
The social networking features are aimed to encourage the interaction of artists, record labels, music professionals and music fans. All basic SNS features are supported from profiles and status updates to 'follow' functionality. gogoyoko also plans to introduce more features later this year, like interactive music magazine and a worldwide music map providing concert listings and easy access to music and profiles.
I like the look and feel of the service a lot. The attitude is there as well - one cannot help smiling when receiving the account registration email greeting you "Welcome to gogoyoko, Your account creation was a huge success." The site functions pretty well, though there are some quite minor layout issues to polish here and there. The streaming seems very fast and smooth. For purchasing songs you first need to buy "store credits" between 2 and 100 euros with a credit card (for keeping the transaction costs in control, I presume).
It is of course impossible to avoid comparison with Spotify. However, the big difference is that gogoyoko is targeted as more a grass-roots platform and medium for connecting artists and fans directly. Its focus is in supporting artist self publishing. There should be no limitation as such, though, why for example record labels could not also bring the main stream artists to gogoyoko also if they wanted to.
It is interesting to see what will happen to the pay-per-download model used for taking the music with you on a portable device. Spotify's offline "streaming" functionality is a big benefit and allows you to enjoy a whole bigger range of music on the go. Juggling files back and forth into a portable player starts to feel somewhat clumsy. On the other hand, the pay-per-download model does provide good way of directly supporting artists you like.
However, I still believe there should be a feature like Richard Stallman's old idea (in one of his essays) of an easily available "donate" button, which would allow you to send amount of your choice to the artist whose work you are listening to. As digital content can be easily copied with practically no distribution cost, why depend on the old pay-per-download model, when it is very much a one-off transaction limited to a nominal fixed fee. As a fan, why not send the artist some love each time when you are on a great mood and much enjoy a particular song? That would provide artists much better recurring return on their creativity over time.