Self-Publish and Sell Your Music with PalDrop

February 18, 2012

I’m not usually one to plug and rant about commercial products on the web, but sometimes a tool comes along that makes you think “why has no one else done that before?” One utility that recently had this profound Eureka effect on me is PalDrop, an ingenious mechanism that adds a PayPal button to files and folders stored on Dropbox.

PalDrop - the Cloud Sales Tool

The web is changing. That golden, gluttonous era of using various types of P2P application to download anything and everything vaguely interesting are gone for all but the most foolhardy or technically savvy of users. Torrents, once hailed as the saviour of the peer-to-peer movement, are now too risky for users in most parts of the world. With lawyers in cahoots with one another and utilizing high-tech IP scanning software with integrated template mail-merging functionality that can demand up to a million dollars a year from unsuspecting bit torrent users (without the need to even hire a secretary), the act of downloading a torrent today is somewhat akin to breaking into a retail music store and leaving your wallet behind.

The future of one-click download services, also hailed as a revolutionary component in filesharing, also looks uncertain. Megaupload, along with its founder Kim Schutz, has crumbled, creating a precedent that has sent shockwaves around the net, resulting in many consumers going on a kind of forced digital diet consisting only of expensive downloads from Apple and Amazon à la carte menus. Buying content from these providers is much like visiting a local retail outlet – it is restricted to the local language, targeted at the local demographics and subject to local copyright and censorship laws. In short, these online stores are sanitised, generalised, “walled garden” views of the internet and the world. If you don’t fall into the target market, you won’t find anything that interests you enough to purchase it at the overblown prices. If you’re an expatriot that wants to buy content in your native language, you’re stuffed. As for selling your own goods on places such as Amazon and Apple – well, it can be done, but there are a lot of hoops to jump through beforehand. For many, it simply isn’t worth it – the system is protracted and at odds with what the internet was first heralded to deliver on.

Everywhere you look on the web today, there is mention of The Cloud and how it is (once again) revolutionizing the web and how we use it. More and more cloud services are springing up that are aimed at the individual, instead of businesses. Services such as Dropbox and Box offer generous free storage as part of the registration process. With mobilized clients for these services also available, users can access all their files at any time, even on the train. Files can be shared with other users, with just a few clicks. The free hosting space provided by cloud services such as Dropbox, if properly leveraged, makes it potentially an empty online store, as the publishing and sharing aspect is all handled capably. All that is needed is an integrated payment layer.

PayPal has long since provided anyone who wants to sell anything over the internet with an established mechanism for accepting payment via various methods. All the seller needed to worry about was advertising their services somehow, or signing up for a seller account on an auction account such as eBay.

What PalDrop does, cleverly, is to combine the payment gateway aspect of PayPal with the file publishing/sharing elements of Dropbox, using the open APIs of each. So anyone with a PayPal and Dropbox account can start charging access to their files and folders, with just a few clicks.

The potential for digital self-publishing here is what blew my mind. Musicians and writers have always struggled with traditional publishers in an effort to get their creations on to the market. When the internet was first popularized, many believed it would empower them to self-publish. It didn’t really happen, however – what happened instead was the digital retail world simply mirrored the real world – with large corporate bodies still calling the shots and dictating the same product at the same prices –  and an unfortunate by-product of this was the explosion in illegal file-sharing that began at the end of the nineties.

What PalDrop does is deliver the original promise of self-publishing to the seller by combining two well-established concepts – the cloud and the online payment gateway – to create a third platform. I am a writer and a musician, and for me the ideal situation is being able to sell my own art (in both the written and audible form), to whichever markets I choose, at the prices I see fit. I hope that this concept really takes off, as it provides real freedom to the artist – whether they are selling pictures, music files, eBooks or anything downloadable – to fully control every aspect of their online business.

For more information on PalDrop, the revolutionary “cloud sales tool” – go here.

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