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Squaring unprecedented opportunities for music distro, sobering visualizations, and tweets for mpfrees asks for tricky math. I’m not sure we yet have the tools or the data. But we get more of each every day.

It seems safe to say that the explosion of online tools for distributing music, whether for a fee or free, has allowed independent artists of all stripes to reach vastly wider audiences than was possible just a few years ago. At a moment of turbulence and transition in the mediascape, independent producers appear to be experimenting with and, in many cases, eagerly embracing a variety of platforms and approaches.

The profusion of “web 2.0” style sites for distributing music — including SoundCloud, Fairtilizer, and BandCamp, but also MySpace and YouTube — offers a number of options for those operating outside the traditional “music industry.” These services generally provide tools for facilitating “discovery” (or, the use of social networking features to help one’s music find listeners, and vice versa), distribution, robust forms of tracking, and in some cases, sales.

It’s clear — simply scanning my inbox — that lots of artists and independent labels/collectives are employing mixed methods for distributing their work and attempting to seek or share compensation with audiences and “peers” of all sorts (including DJs, bloggers, and journalists). It would be quite a feat simply to enumerate the various channels/methods now available for circulating musical recordings (and various related artifacts, from stems to videos); it’s another thing altogether to attempt some sort of analysis.

Given that so many tools are now available, what’s really missing from any such analysis is data. I’ve seen some stats and heard some hearsay, but I’d love to hear from the thoughtful enthusiasts & practitioners who drop in here from time to time, especially independent artists and/or labels. Anyone have strong preferences for one of these emerging methods/sites over another? Success stories? Surprises? I’m not asking you to divulge your brilliant strategery or anything, but I’m keen to hear about what’s working and what’s not, which features appeal and which don’t, etc. Got any anecdotes or pithy quotes? Major or minor figures you’d care to share?

I’m sayin, especially if you’re one of those folks who’ve sent me a link to your distro site, how’s that open-exchangey thing workin’ for ya?

(Incidentally, I’d love to hear from “purely” listeners’ perspectives too, or from bloggers, journos, etc.)

& feel free to hit me offblog: wayne at wayneandwax