Esperanto Language Blog

Why Vinilkosmo is not on iTunes (part 2 of 4) Posted by on Mar 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

Ĉi tiu intervjuo aperos en sia originala Esperanto en la revuo Kontakto (majo 2011), do abonu tuj, por certiĝi, ke vi ricevos ĝin ĝustatempe.

Vinilkosmo mp3 logo

In the first part of our interview with Vinilkosmo’s Floréal Martorell, he explains why there are three separate sites to buy their music. Now learn why our favorite Esperanto music company doesn’t appear in that behemoth online store, iTunes.

Why isn’t your music on iTunes?

I first researched already existing download stores like iTunes and others, but the problem became evidently difficult, because it’s not possible to enter such download services with a complete catalog without going through an aggregator. So, we definitely tried to find an aggregator and made requests. I tried many, but only one replied: Idol. They asked for statistics of our CD sales and our catalog. Then, they answered that our catalog didn’t interest them, because it was too niche. It didn’t interest enough people, and we practically didn’t even have one well-known artist, etc.

Because of that refusal… according to your advice, we contacted Bernard Stollman of ESP-Disk’. He made a request to a pretty famous aggregator in the USA and worldwide, but time passed and they never answered. I understood that our Esperanto music catalog is indeed too niche to interest the mainstream market. Our label and our catalog are closer to independent labels than that of the corporate music industry. Our sales are too small for them to feel it was worth spending time and money to work with us.

Then, I researched how to make my own download system independently of Mark’s CD service. I found a company which taught me how to make websites powered by osCommerce. I started the work, first making an Esperanto interface and then uploaded all our music materials to our server. Seven months later, I was able to launch the website. That was a monumental task, because I had to learn a lot and and even then I still find it complicated. I often had to ask for assistance to solve problems or make improvements.

I’m content though, since the download system supports 4 languages. You can download in different formats: mp3 and ogg for sold out CDs and the high-quality FLAC and also videos. You can even preview the albums on our site! We put all our published albums there, except for our compilations, but it’s all long and difficult work for me. At least I can keep administrating everything myself as my time and energy allows. It’s all legal and respects artist rights and we pay for that to the author rights society, so that artists receive their royalties.

However, since the launch of the download system, sales have been low and not many people come to download. We have many visits, but few result in sales. It seems to me that people are looking for free downloads and are not ready to pay, even a few clearly told me that! Starting in June 2010, the costs for the download service became higher than its income. We covered November, but December was a catastrophe, but also for the CDs. So, finally we can confirm that downloading cannot compensate for the fall of CD sales. This could also never cover the production costs for new albums, even if we produced them on CD, at least in its current state. That really discouraged me, even though I worked really hard to read such unsatisfactory results.

Then as fate would have it, I discovered the Federation of Independent Publishers in France (cd1d). I was in many meetings and there I met other publishers facing the same situation and similar problems. Those publishers united to meet the crisis and find solutions and resources, making tools available to all the members of their federation. Vinilkosmo joined and the federation gave us space in their download system. There we put a selection of our latest albums and some older ones. Since we’ve joined, we’ve also added some new releases. Their download system complemented ours, because there we can also advertise our FLAC versions, even though mp3 is also available.

The interface is in French and English, but there is also a Esperanto presentation under the presentations of artists and albums in French and English. In fact, I was able to reuse the same material which I published on our own website and that saved a lot of work. I think it’s a very good alternative for Vinilkosmo. It also secures our future. In case there is ever a problem with Vinilkosmo’s websites, I can always put all the CDs and downloads on cd1d. That’s what other indie publishers are doing which don’t have a download service like us. In principle, I direct people to download FLAC at cd1d, but mp3 and ogg at our own. Here is our space at cd1d. You can also read more about cd1d in English.

In the next part of this series, you’ll read about the new, innovative Vinilkosmo radio and how it came to be.

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About the Author: Chuck Smith

I was born in the US, but Esperanto has led me all over the world. I started teaching myself Esperanto on a whim in 2001, not knowing how it would change my life. The timing couldn’t have been better; around that same time I discovered Wikipedia in it’s very early stages and launched the Esperanto version. When I decided to backpack through Europe, I found Esperanto speakers to host me. These connections led me to the Esperanto Youth Organization in Rotterdam, where I worked for a year, using Esperanto as my primary language. Though in recent years I’ve moved on to other endeavors like iOS development, I remain deeply engrained in the Esperanto community, and love keeping you informed of the latest news. The best thing that came from learning Esperanto has been the opportunity to connect with fellow speakers around the globe, so feel free to join in the conversation with a comment! I am now the founder and CTO of the social app Amikumu.