iTunes shows how it’s done. An extensive catalogue of music tracks, games, books and of course Apps is available to users. Anyone who has stored his or her credit card data obtains the desired products in seconds. This speed is sometimes even consolation for the fact that books are linked with exasperating DRM editions that only cause hassle. Suppliers of audio books give iTunes credit that competitors like audible.de (from Amazon) may well make similar promises, but they load their service with prohibitive costs. iTunes is almost fair as regards its costs for suppliers, so they say.
But what about those who choose other avenues and don’t merely want to feed a global quasi-monopoly? In Switzerland a group of spoken word writers and publishers has formed to set up their own version of ‘iTunes’. The spoken-word.ch website (http://www.spoken-word.ch) is now online and offers a catalogue of tracks and albums in audio format. Initially, this is not likely to yield big profits. In any case, the copyright holders linked with the project are not on the side of major profiteers. The whole point is entirely different: part of the online marketing should be self-managed.
spoken-word.ch is not acting exclusively. Anyone who publishes here can also opt for alternative routes – whether this is via a publishing house or web portals. But spoken-word.ch tries to override the disconnections between performance and literature, and to create a common pool for this. The platform is open to all writers with stage experience and the ability to produce technically flawless tracks. If they publish on spoken-word.ch, they can keep most of the revenue. Only the future will tell how far consumers are also willing to take up such offers.
By Beat Mazenauer
Translated by Suzanne Kirkbright