Last winter, I identified SNOCAP as one of four interesting privately held companies that investors might just wish were public companies. There wasn't too much news out of SNOCAP after that, to my surprise -- until now, and it's pretty big. As you have probably heard, it's hooked up with News Corp.'s
It's true that this development bears watching for Apple
SNOCAP is the brainchild of Shawn Fanning, who created Napster
Lots of people bring up the old-fashioned idea that "unsigned" translates to "artists without talent." That's pretty much what any record label, publishing house, or movie studio would want you to think. Media distribution more often than not sides with artists that are easily accessible and promoted to the masses. (In other words, often quite mediocre. There's little other choice when you're trying to be all things to all people.) Most media companies have functioned as hit makers for ages, but the tide is turning.
The Internet is changing all that, and it's most visible in the surge of user-generated content (and ratings and recommendations, for that matter). Blogs, YouTube, and Wikipedia all prove there's plenty of unsigned, undiscovered, unsung talent out there if you're willing to look (and yes, dig through a lot of not-so-hot fare). In a personal anecdote, I've been trying to buy digital copies of back-catalog work by one of my favorite (though fairly obscure) musicians from the '80s, much of which was no longer available on Amazon.com
So while Apple shareholders can wonder if (or when) a MySpace-driven music service will impact iTunes, the fact is the ramifications of this type of deal as related to traditional media businesses might be pretty astounding. With strong online communities springing up, uniting people from all over the globe and allowing artists unprecedented exposure (and services like SNOCAP), could the media companies that have functioned as the facilitators of "talent" face increasingly difficult days in the not-so-distant future?
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.