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WebCeleb – Site Review

WebCeleb describes itself as “The social marketplace for independent music .” The idea is pretty simple, if you download a musician’s song, you’ll get a referral fee if you encourage other fans to download that song too. It’s a way to incentivise early adopters into becoming evangelists for the music they love (and promote the site in the process). You can watch a short explanation video from the site here:


I’ll keep this review short and sweet – it won’t work. When people feel motivated to do something, it’s usually either by money, or by a more personal passion – but rarely by both combined. If you feel passionate about something (like sharing music you love), then adding money into the equation won’t increase that passion, it’ll probably take it away. There’s some pretty complex behavioral economics at play here, but the easiest way to summarise it is with the example of sex – A wholesome, beautiful act between two loving partners, which does not become more rewarding when money gets involved!

Just like Wikipedia editors or Digg Contributors, you could not pay passionate music fans to do what they do. Bringing money into the equation means they’re no longer be doing it “for the love of the music.” They’ll end up just doing it for the paycheck – treating it like a job. When that happens, you need a pretty strong cash reward to encourage people to spread the word – WebCeleb’s offer of “for every 7 friends you encourage to buy a song, you get one free” just won’t cut it.

What do you think, would your fans buy into something like this? Would you encourage 7 of your friends to buy a single, just so you can earn a dollar?

Thanks to Indie Music Tech and for pointing this service out to us. You can read more about the Behavioural Economics involved on my personal blog here, if you’re interested.