Beloved Music Website Daytrotter Switches to Pay Model

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Daytrotter is a music lover’s dream. For the last six years, the website has streamed thousands of stripped-down recording sessions from some of the best bands around all for free. But last week, we all had to wake from that dream. Nothing this great can stay free forever.

Daytrotter emailed their fans and put it bluntly “Keeping the lights on and paying the bills through advertising revenue — and thereby passing along these unique recordings to you freely — is not working. We want to keep Daytrotter in everyone’s lives and so we’re looking for a little help.”

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Daytrotter is now charging $2 a month for a subscription to the website and all its recording sessions. They’re also introducing new features like HD concert videos and live streams of select recording sessions.

In January, I visited their studio and produced this short video documenting a single day at the recording space.

It was no surprise how much work actually goes into maintaining their site — they record about fifty bands a month, and upload a new performance every day accompanied by a unique artist’s drawing of the band. What did surprise me was how few people are actually doing all this work. There were five dedicated music enthusiasts running everything — the recording sessions, artwork, writing, site maintenance and social media. Sean Moeller is the writer and co-creator of Daytrotter. When I met with him last winter, I asked about their business model. His reply:

“We had to make a decision early on when we started the site. Are you going to be a subscription site or are you going to be an ad-based site? To get people to pay attention early you kind of have to go down the ad-based road”

Now that a lot of people are paying attention – the site gets about 3 million page views each month – it makes sense for Daytrotter to go the subscription route.

Moeller and his colleagues have transformed a deserted radio station into a powerful platform for music promotion in the digital age. Daytrotter is a place where musicians and fans can find each other. I hope those who love the site will dole out the modest two-dollar fare to keep listening. It would be a shame to see it disappear.

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