groopEase – New Music Discovery / Group Music Purchasing Service
While I was checking out Google’s web alternative to popular iPad app FlipBoard, (Google Fast Flip,which is nice, btw) I discovered a story about a new service through a post at Mashable from April 6th. It immediately sounded interesting to me in concept. I appreciate and desire to support any new or unique approach to getting new music to new listeners. And this one really seemed unique, at least in the world of new music curation/promotion. While I prefer less commercial approaches, you can’t blame a guy for making a buck or two, as long as it’s legit and not scammy.
I’m sure many of you either have heard of or use “deal of the day” services and apps like Groupon. This is a bit like that, but with a tiny bit more of a buyer’s “club” feeling to it, and so far not actually a “daily” service. I assume many of you are also open to trying AND buying new music. groopEase takes an interesting, new approach to discovery and then deeply discounted purchase. Members to the service/site are initially getting the opportunity to purchase about 2 or 3 new digital albums a week for as much as 75% off, as well as a single track to download and preview from each album. The site also reports that some artists will have videos to preview on the site. It’s invitation-only, but with a 1 dollar credit for each person you invite that joins and makes a purchase once you get in. Mashable seems to have missed that detail, claiming that you get the credit simply by getting your friend to “sign up”, which is not the case. (no, I have no invites and would not use this venue to take advantage of the discount/credit) Check the Mashable article’s comments for what SEEMS to be an open invitation, but could simply be someone trying to get dollar credits. Hard to tell. No accusation here, I just do not know.
Since I have not tried the service out myself, yet (I will), I cannot be sure exactly what types of music they will be featuring. The site’s FAQ describes the artists/bands as “indie” and “up and coming”, which could be utter crap or utterly interesting, depending on whether or not they consider bands that sound like Coldplay or Kings of Leon to be “indie”. ( one simple test is to ask yourself, “would this be available in a little bin at Starbucks?” ) Or whether they think of things like “hipsters” and skinny jeans when they hear the word indie rather than imagining artists doing it all themselves in a garage or basement somewhere. Time will tell, and I will certainly report back with my opinion. My impression, or “gut” feeling is that they have their hearts in the right place, which is why I wrote this article. I get a good vibe from them.
I think it’s very important to find new ways to bring community back to music discovery. Especially beyond the more mundane, almost mechanical and ephemeral/disposable places that pass for community these days. ( I still like you last.fm , but Farcebook and Theirspace are just depressing..as are many other sites that focus either on streaming or garish profiles combined with a tendency to encourage the cultivation of attention spans similar to hummingbirds and houseflies…. in my opinion .. and no, I will not water your crops!) It remains to be seen if this particular community turns out to be a purely commercial enterprise. But it’s another step in a new direction and I like that the steps are being taken at all. Rather than being like radio curators, it feels like they are instead closer to CD-store-employee curators. More personal and cliquey, less broad. I hope they end up being at least as opinionated, or have haircuts I wish I had already. But that’s just an impression from the outside.
I find that this is maybe the longest review I have ever written for a service I have not yet tried. But if you’ve read this far, that cookie has crumbled.
In any case, I suggest you give it a try if you can get your paws on an invite. CHECK IT OUT.
And to make you feel even better about your purchase, if you end up making one, is the fact that they are giving away 5% of sales to charity. Currently, the charity is “Empower Nepali Girls”, which is a very, very worthy charity. They help the most neglected and impoverished girls in Nepal reach their potential and beyond by providing educational funding based on financial need combined with academic potential/performance. 90% of all money donated goes directly to the children’s education. Females in Nepali culture face numerous challenges and barriers, including the possibility of being married off at extremely young ages (as young as 11!! ?? !!) and a high statistical probability of being sold into sex slavery. This is why the focus is on girls while not excluding boys. It’s easy to forget sometimes, especially during genuinely rough economic times, just how lucky we are to be living where we do, (assuming a large majority of my readers are from western nations) when we do. Even if you don’t check out groopEase, at least check out this charity, and take a moment to read some of the very moving stories.
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