Reason #2,045 I don’t understand music licensing & another reason Twitter has a hard time monetizing

Last night I read a Tweet that highly recommended Peter Gabriel’s new album. I followed the link to NPR and was interested enough in the album’s description to hear more. On the top of the NPR post is a link to listen to the album, but that link is grayed out. Why? Because evidently “Audio for First Listens is no longer available after the album is released.” My assumption is that this is part of the licensing deal which allows NPR to play the full album on their site only before release.

Looking at a more recent post about the album “The Golden Echo” by Kimbra, I was able to listen to an entire hour of audio (I assume it’s the entire album) which I enjoyed thoroughly and I think is a wonderful way to introduce me to new artists. This brought up a different problem: the “purchase” link leads nowhere. Maybe because the album hasn’t been released yet?

On NPR: Audio for First Listens is no longer available after the album is released.

On NPR: Audio for First Listens is no longer available after the album is released.

But still, even a pre-order would be better than nothing. This isn’t consistent across the “First Listens” albums. Some go nowhere and others link to Amazon and iTunes.

But I digress. Let’s go back to online music licensing. First, why limit the listening capabilities to before the album is released? It’s a great purchasing incentive to let buyers listen to audio previews. Amazon does it and Google Music even allows sharing on Google+. Second, the preview doesn’t necessarily have to include the entire album like “First Listens” usually allows, just segments of the songs. The direct link to purchasing that most albums have would make the entire user experience, from initial interest to purchase and download.

Instead of listening to a few snippets of music I abandoned the entire enterprise. I’ll look for the new Peter Gabriel another time.

Also, should the ad on the bottom be for the NPR One app or the album? I thought it would be more natural to link to the album on the Play Store.

Finally, assuming that everything in this process was working correctly, a recommendation on Twitter lead to the NPR page which led to an iTunes or Amazon purchase, how can Twitter be part of that process? Do they need to become affiliates/associates of the merchants and get a part of the cut? Does the middleman (NPR in this case) need to share its commission with Twitter? Does the person who tweeted the link get part of the commission? Would that lead to too many tweets that could be construed by readers as undeclared advertising? Am I reading too much into this tweet? Should Twitter even think of monetizing all tweets that lead to purchases somewhere down the line? As Twitter struggles to find additional sources of advertising revenue, this may not be as far fetched as I currently think it is.



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