February 18, 2016 Last Updated 4:34 pm

American pop band Emblem3 releases new EP as a free app built by EscapeX

As was the case in the early days of mobile news apps, at least one developer is offering free apps to clients as a way of building a business through advertising or in-app purchases

It is just plain harder these days for musicians to make money selling records. Even those in the music label business tell me that the record companies eat up most of the revenue earned from sales, leaving musicians to earn a living mostly on the road.

If you think this is a problem only with music think about what it is like today in trade publishing. None of the US magazines covering the magazine industry have many ads in them and so they are forced to make their profits with events and other products (and one announced they are done with print altogether this year).

Emblem3 iPhone appTNM is in the same situation: few (nearly none) of the vendors that sell into the digital media space support the trade press with advertising, leaving it likely that soon there will be no one cover digital publishing at all.

So, what does a musician, or a trade publisher, do? They search for other ways to make a buck.

Music has been on my mind lately. As I said above, I’ve spoken to a number of people in the business, bouncing ideas off them, hearing their concerns, and listening to their opinions of the music press (it’s not good). So, it’s not surprising that some will be looking for new business models.

Yesterday, the band Emblem3 released their latest record as an app, offering those who download the Android or iOS app the music for free in exchange for greater engagement with their fans. (Emblem3 first became known through Season 2 of X Factor, where they finished in fourth place.)

The app was built by EscapeX, a start-up that has already released similar apps to this new one. In fact, this new one is the 21st app for the company.

The idea is to offer the app to the musician for free in exchange for a split of any in-app advertising or in-app purchases that come out of the effort. Build enough apps, or build enough of an audience in any app, and there might be a business there. In any case, there is little risk to the musician other than the fact that the app has to contain their music. This one contains six new songs plus other streaming music.

Shapira EscapeX app

Sephi Shapira

“Traditional channels in the music industry aren’t built to engage fans and build communities, which we learned was very important to the band,” said Sephi Shapira, CEO of EscapeX. “Launching their new music exclusively through the app for free shows just how much Emblem3 cares for their fans.”

The big problem, of course, is that everyone can see that CD sales continue downward, while streaming revenue brings in some new revenue for the labels, but pennies for the artists.

“Ninety-five percent of people will never pay for a subscription service,” Shapira told the AP last year. “We’re telling artists to come join this economy.”

This app model is not completely new, of course. In the early days of mobile apps more than a few new developers offered their apps to newspaper publishers with the idea they could build a mobile app network. The sales pitch was similar to this one: you get the app and we’ll split the incremental revenue. The problem, these companies found, was achieving any scale (and then they needed to create a sales force).

Here, there are multiple reasons for the app such as in-app purchases, but these apps also can promote tours (though, strangely, I didn’t see this as a section of the app).

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