I've always been a big fan of Peter Gabriel, so I was intrigued when I heard about a new music service he co-founded called We7.com. The site allows members to listen to songs and albums in their entirety for free. They can create a playlist to share with friends and colleagues. If you like the song well enough, then you can buy and download it.
According to the press release that was issued this week, there will be music from four major labels and hundreds of indie artists. After visiting the site, I would say the bulk of the artists there are indie, though there were some notable exceptions such as Dave Matthews, Radiohead, Moby, and Rush. At least, that's what I saw after about a half hour searching different genres. Artists are paid by We7 from the advertising revenue, and there sure are plenty of ads.
The most interesting and useful music I found were several unfamiliar tracks from one of my favorite electronica artists, Thievery Corporation, and a cool cover of Eurythmic's classic Sweet Dreams. I started a playlist and you can check it out below. Hide the ads and there are two icons. The right one displays all the songs in the playlist.
OK, you've discovered my alter-ego. Its a moniker I like to use when creating mixed CDs and often use as an ID for music-related sites.
The press release goes on to say that this site offers a better alternative to piracy. I'm not sure how they figure that to be the case. Sure you can listen to the entire song, opposed to 30 second clips on iTunes and other download sites, but you still have to buy the song if you want to own it. The price is about that of iTunes, Amazon, and all the rest, however, the price is in British Pounds. Basically, just double the listed price and that's about what it will cost in dollars.
Other than the fact I would have liked to see more artists from those undisclosed major labels and a wider world music selection, what was most annoying on the site was the "we7" music tag that plays before every song starts streaming. I can still hear it in my head and so can you since it is there in the shared playlist.
If you give it a try, tell me what you think. Personally, I think it needs more work before it is ready for primetime, though I really dig the ability to share playlists. Peter Gabriel's involvement brought me there but I'm not sure it will be enough to keep me coming back.