Some people still buy CDs, and there are still some hipsters left who swear by vinyl, but for most of us, music now comes in the form of DRM-free MP3s or whatever streaming format Spotify uses. This has meant the end of reading liner notes, printed lyrics as part of the CD booklet and all of the artwork that was often part of the whole album package. Even the concept of the album now often feels like an anachronism. 3plet wants to bring all of this back by combining the advantages of the old CD experience with the best of what digital can offer.
The service provides musicians with an app for all the major mobile platforms that recreates much of the album experience. Users get to see artwork selected by the musicians, access to background notes about the band and music, lyrics and links to additional content online. The apps are also integrated with an artist’s YouTube channel and social networks.
The apps will be available for free. Users will only be allowed to listen to one to three songs without paying extra. This turns a 3plet app into something akin to a mobile presentation kit for bands. The rest of the album sits behind an in-app paywall and bands charge an additional fee (somewhere around $10 in most cases) for the full album experience.
The company believes that its service can offer bands a new income stream and creative outlet at the same time. For the most part, the 3plet team believes, a band’s most dedicated fans – the ones who would also go out and buy a boxed set – will be the ideal target audience for this digital experience, but 3plet also sees it as an alternative to selling CDs at shows.
The Estonia-based startup, which was co-founded by Vlad Davydov and Valery Mifodovsky, charges musicians a set fee for building these apps and takes an additional cut from in-app purchases.
In its early days, 3plet mostly focused on the Russian-speaking market to test its idea. Now, however, it’s starting to more actively market its services in the U.S. and Western Europe. While Davydov says the company is talking to a number of big-name musicians, its catalog mostly features very few mainstream artists. 3plet is currently a finalist in MIDEM’s upcoming Midemlab competition for groundbreaking music startups, though, and the company hopes this will give it a bit more visibility to bring its service to a wider audience.