Open Source Media Machines

One of my earlier postings referenced a study of how artists were using the Internet to sell their works. It elicited a reply from independent music promoter Bob Baker, who pointed me to three sites that were trying to help musicians produce and sell works. They are:

  • CB Baby!, a for-profit site in Portland, Oregon, that sells music online and links musicians with publicists or other resources;
  • eFolkMusic.org, a not-for-profit site with a similar mission but more specific focus;
  • Lulu, a North Carolina, for-profit site with the ambitious goal of providing “a better deal for authors, musicians, software developers, photographers and artists who want to publish and sell their work.”

Lulu sounds like an eBay-like venue for creative types to network and create virtual storefronts. It is run by Bob Young, who was one of the first entrepreneurs to commercialize Linux when he formed Red Hat software. A Salon article reveals a bit about Young and his adventures in commercial Linux-land. A North Carolina business paper, the Triangle Tech Journal, recorded the event in 2002 when Young bought a failing dot.com called OpenMind (which had intended to blow open text books) and begin its transformation into Lulu. Young has published his own views of what Linux and Red Hat were about in the University of Michigan’s Journal of Electronic Publishing. There is a brief bio on the Lulu website. Here’s another segment I clipped from the site: “Lulu is a tool for creators. It's also a business, to be sure. Lulu's commission on the sale of content through its site is 20%.” An interesting guy with an interesting model. There must be more outfits like Lulu and these other publishing aggregators. I will look around and report back. Any and all help appreciated. Tom Abate


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