R/GA Attempts to Individualize the Music Listening Experience with ‘One Copy Song’

By Bob Marshall 

To create buzz and some PR pickup for his new single, “Pass it On,” Swedish rapper Adam Tensta turned to R/GA for a viral lift. R/GA’s solution, “One Copy Song,” is a Facebook app that allows one person worldwide to hear Tensta’s new track at a time. Yes, if you want to hear Tensta’s new track as of this post’s publication, you have to wait in line behind at least 100 other people.

According to a statement from R/GA, “One Copy Song makes the release of a song an intimate experience, bringing you closer to the artist and the community. Moreover, it brings back the anticipation around the release of new music that’s been lost in the digital age.” And, for an extra social media push, users can actually “cut” the line, moving up in order to hear the aptly titled “Pass It On” by tweeting about it, watching Tensta’s music video for his track “Like a Punk” on YouTube or listening to his song “Before U Know It” on Spotify. Users can also access a world map on the Facebook app that tracks where in the world the song has been listened to. The app is set for a full launch for any artist’s use this summer.


Now, as this is a PR move/soft launch, I would highly doubt that Tensta’s results will be indicative of artists who try One Copy Song in the future. After all, we live in an era where we expect any intellectual property to be instantly accessed online at a moment’s notice. And, as a young artist trying to make a breakthrough into stardom, wouldn’t you want as many people to hear your songs as possible? Waiting in line, even with the opportunity to budge others, isn’t (and never has been) much of an incentive to do anything, besides looking for a hoppin’ bar.

Even for artists that are already big, wouldn’t following Radiohead’s pay-what-you-want model for In Rainbows or Jay-Z and Kayne West’s Watch the Throne iTunes launch be a much better way to restore the “anticipation” R/GA talks about? I could be wrong, but for an Internet-driven world where instant gratification is a means for valuing content, I don’t foresee One Copy Song as a sustainable model for music distribution.