Affiliate programs, which reward people financially for sending other people to a particular site to buy stuff, has been a boon for bloggers who cheerily recommend books, electronics, and other items to their readers in return for retailer kickbacks.
Unfortunately, the same system hasn’t quite clicked for recording artists who want to sell music directly to fans. As more artists release mixtapes or outright albums on their own, without a label, many want a better choice in how those are sold.
The Buy Button was conceived and built by members of Topspin, a direct-to-fan retail site, so clearly they had a bit of a stake in the game. But the web app the created at San Francisco Music Hack Day could work across platforms and would not only direct users to Topspin, or to the other big retailers, but to artist sites, or even Soundcloud.
The Buy Button purports to let users search for music using artist and track names (or other information) in order to be directed to everywhere on the web that sells the album or track. I randomly tried searching “Fleet Foxes” and Hopelessness Blues” and got back links to iTunes and Amazon — a shame, because I know the album is also for sale via the Sub Pop Records site. In order for The Buy Button to work as well as it could, it will need to incorporate label and artist sites.
Still, perhaps the site is still deep in beta and will eventually get much bigger. A search for rapper Freddie Gibbs, who has several excellent mixtapes, redirected to boz.fm — a blank site, as did a search for rapper Homeboy Sandman, so clearly there are still bugs to work out.
The service’s concept is a strong one, and could do wonders for artist-centric commerce –especially if its creators set it up as an affiliate program for bloggers (so they can get paid for referrals) and include more artist/label sites. That way, bloggers writing about music would have an incentive to integrate The Buy Button, while artists could add their own stores to the service to allow users to buy directly from them, instead of giving 35 percent to a retailer.