Bitmunk Creates Push-Pull Social Vintage Store

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shoppingcart.jpgI’m not an “artist” — as in, I don’t list that as my profession come tax time, but I do create stuff, mostly intellectual property. In the year 2007, most of us do — and it’s only going to get bigger. Whether you’re making a silly personal video, a catchy jingle, or the next MIT thesis — chances are you’re an artist too.

So what do you do with all the digital content you create? Do you upload it for free to aggregators like YouTube or MySpace who ride your muse to advertising-backed retirement? Or do you look for a way to make some cash? I vote for the latter. I want to be a citizen-journalist icon. Apparently, I’m not the only one, and this is what the creators of Bitmunk.com are banking on – the individuals’ right to make a buck via push-pull media in its truest sense.

If you’re keeping tabs on social media, consider how Bitmunk might affect it. Not only does Bitmunk allow an artist to upload their music or videos for sale, it allows for the buyers to re-sell their purchases, with royalties going back to the creator — an idea that MySpace reportedly had in the works in the latter half of 2006 via a company called SNOCAP. However, Bitmunk, around since 2004, was first to bat, and sought the patent for this affiliate-type royalty distribution system.

Digital Bazaar, the Blacksburg, VA based company that created Bitmunk, says “… once you buy a song from the network, you can re-sell that song to anybody else on the network for a small profit. We’ve created a very symbiotic relationship between the labels, artists, distributors and fans – one where everyone has an incentive to participate.”

This incentive is supposedly enough to keep buyers from giving away the goods for free on nefarious p2p networks like Limewire or BearShare which are renowned for their copyright infringing user-base. To protect artists and keep people honest, Bitmunk incorporates watermarking, a technology embraced by EMI Music, the first big label to try DRM-free distribution via announced partnerships with iTunes, Amazon, and Microsoft.

Manu Sporny, CEO, says “On Bitmunk, artists have the choice of wrapping their music in DRM – and customers have the choice of buying content wrapped in DRM or buying something not locked down. Bitmunk operates as a free market, and people decide what works for them.”

So what does that mean for marketers like us? With over 800,000 pieces of digital content available for sale on Bitmunk today and the number growing, we’re seeing a case in progress of push-pull media as forecasted by Kevin Kelly and Gary Wolf of Wired Magazine back in 1997.

Yes, it’s taken 10 years. Now, instead of thrusting your marketing message upon a disgruntled audience, advertisers can have their message pulled by a receptive person, who actively requests advertising to cut down on the price of their media buy. Instead of paying $.50-.84 cents per track, the average cost on Bitmunk, pulled advertising could drop the price by $.10-.15 cents — giving the buyer a major incentive to watch a commercial.

Digital Bazaar reports that ads can also be targeted by media interest (comedy, horror, rock, jazz) as well as standard zip, gender, and DOB. To avoid abuse, frequency caps are implemented — meaning the same viewer can’t pull your commercial over and over. And if the blogs are any indication, this is where people want advertising to go…short of out the window.

Every cat spins push-pull marketing in a different way, but if we’re talking about true interaction with consumers – between pushing a message onto someone vs. having them ask for it — then Bitmunk gives advertisers an option that few channels currently do. Heck, with all the consumer-empowerment going on, advertisers may even be able to sell their commercials for pennies. Wouldn’t that be iconic? I see it as much better option than ironic…as Morisette would say, don’t ya think?

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