NoiseTrade.com is a “fair trade” music site where you can download an album for a few bucks or a few friends. Artist Derek Webb co-founded the site, saying that “a great record is its own best marketing tool; all the marketing dollars in the world can’t accomplish what one great record can, especially if it’s set free to roam around and connect with the right people.” Since Webb gave away downloads of his 2006 album Mockingbird in exchange for a name, email address, and ZIP code, he has sold out many shows and increased merchandise and record sales, including a spike in sales of the album that was given away for free. Now through NoiseTrade, any artist can freely distribute their music online and fans can choose to tell three friends about NoiseTrade (through email) or pay any amount in exchange for an immediate download.
There are 28 albums currently up on NoiseTrade, including Webb’s The Ringing Bell, his wife Sandra McCracken’s Gravity | Love, and Sixpence None the Richer’s My Dear Machine. I downloaded Webb’s, McCracken’s, and Matthew Perryman Jones’ Throwing Punches in the Dark last night. You may recognize Jones, Webb, and McCracken from their involvement with the Indelible Grace hymn project.
Upon first listen, Webb’s album is at times brilliant and at other times mediocre (like when he gets politically-charged in a repetitive, emo way), but not bad overall. McCracken’s album is much different than her IG selections, and is more like Sheryl Crow pop than IG Americana. However, Jones, who is consistently my second-favourite IG artist (to Matthew Smith), puts forth a very solid, complete album that is worth listening to over and over from start to finish. I’ve only listened to it twice so far, but I unhesitatingly recommend it. Jones moves from folksy, reflective, and mellow to Radio Head-reminiscient progressive rock without skipping a beat. Get it for a few bucks or for telling three friends about it. (Scott and Becca – I think you especially would like it.)