Over the past few years I've heard hundreds of different ideas for how musicians can get paid in the digital age, but I don't know that I encountered any that I'd want to call "cute" until someone sent me a link to Shirtify
. It's a subscription service that scans your listening habits on a few of the more popular streaming music services—Spotify, Rdio, Last.fm, Pandora—and sends you a t-shirt from one of your most-played artists either monthly or quarterly, depending on which plan you sign up for. It's a goofy idea on the surface, and the Shirtify site plays up its twee side, but behind the cute exterior there's a pretty solid idea. As the FAQ explains in detail
(with the help of a handy infographic), artists are paid approximately jack shit for each spin they receive on streaming services, whereas t-shirt sales net them several bucks of direct profit apiece.
Granted, there are a couple of drawbacks to the service: Both subscription plans work out to about $35 per shirt, which is a little outrageous unless you're used to merch prices at arena concerts or screamo shows, and you don't even get to pick out the band or design you'll get. On the other hand if you're one of those people who feels guilty about how little you contribute to your favorite musicians financially this could be an easy way to soothe your conscience. Or if there's an adventurous music lover on your Christmas list and you don't feel like dealing with the last-minute crowd at Best Buy this could be a pretty nifty solution.