Back in the summer, we heard about Humbolt, an indie-friendly music streaming service that promised to be “ethical” in its business practices. Their website read “Support small business on Humbolt. Shop local. Listen Global.”
For $2.99 a month, users (including Canadians) were able to subscribe to the output of certain indie labels (about twenty had signed up) and dozens of independent artists. They called it “the ultimate ‘record of the month’ club’ but for everything.” Payouts to artists and labels were designed to be much better on a percentage basis than the mainstream streaming services. Subscribers also had the chance to win gifts.
It was a good try, but the whole thing has collapsed. In an email to subscribers, Humbolt says:
We’re beginning the process of dissolution. We, unfortunately, took advice from an ‘industry insider’ that proved to be a fatal error with regards to our finances. We cannot operate in the US because of it. As you know the US is the biggest indie market in music streaming consumption. That being said, also not having Merlin, Secretly Distribution, Beggars or Redeye Worldwide on board has proven difficult as well.
Back to the drawing board.