ARIA Global Blends Good Thoughts with Great Art

by Matt Kettmann

At a passing glance, the whole concept seems naïvely idealistic:
a for-profit, Internet-based company dedicated to discovering then
establishing hand-selected original musicians, writers, and artists
while simultaneously — via online song/art/book sales and
concerts — raising dough for nonprofit charities engaged in
environmental and social justice work. But then you look at the
educational and professional credentials of ARIA Global’s founding
“mastermind” Brandi Bennitt — which include a completed novel, a
master’s degree in business from Antioch, and stints at some of the
more impressive marketing firms on the planet — and it’s hard to
find the concept whose motto is “You Download, We Donate” anything
short of brilliant.

In short, the company — which is organizing the Remembrance
concert for the Goleta postal shooting victims this Saturday, April
29, at the Marjorie Luke — is a cross-promotional marketing and
distribution tool, working as a one-stop shop for digital music
(and later, art and books), acting as a reliable brand for the
artists it supports, and bringing attention to artists and causes
via causes and artists. But as that muddled explanation shows, it’s
really impossible to categorize ARIA (Awareness Raising
Inspirational Art) Global because there is simply no other company
like it.

Bennitt explained, “We’re occupying a previously unoccupied
space. … This proves we’re an original company because we can’t
find a label that fits.” That’s why the Claremont native, UC
Berkeley grad, and Santa Barbara resident, who launched the company
in December 2005, is anticipating a full year of experimentation
with her “alternative” business model to see whether her dreams
will play out. Traditional investors were wary of such an untested
revenue structure, so the financial weight is firmly resting on the
shoulders of Bennitt and a handful of friends and associates.

So far, however, so good, with more than 2,000 hits per week on
(that number needs to climb to 40,000 a day to make the model
successful), about 150 registered users, and a growing list of more
than 30 musicians who now sell their digital songs via the Web
site. “We haven’t had any artists say no and we’ve turned down more
than we’ve accepted,” Bennitt said with pride last month,
explaining that the buzz has grown from Los Angeles to Seattle
strictly by word-of-mouth.

Via, the musicians who are currently selling
their wares get about 40 cents on the dollar, which splits the
difference between a major record label musician cut (about eight
cents) and iTunes (about 72 cents). But unlike iTunes, where it’s
almost impossible to find someone new unless you’re specifically
looking for them, ARIA Global’s site culls the cream of the indie
music crop for your listening pleasure.

Said Bennitt, “Our package is better … you might not know the
band, but you’ll like what you find. We’re highly selective of what
we put on our site. It has to be well-produced with good
musicianship, but the critical thing is that it has to be original
somehow.” A team of five listeners goes through every submission
and only approves the band if it’s something that can be listened
to over and over. Currently, the band list includes such county
residents as Ona, Matthew McAvene, Jonas Day, and Jennifer Terran
as well as Anacortes, Washington’s The Lonely Forest, San
Francisco’s Blame Sally, and the North Bay’s Girls in Suede.

Concert-wise, the company already hosted a singer/songwriter
night for the Save Naples Coalition called NAKED, which was so
successful that it’s becoming a monthly event starting May 8 at the
Unitarian Society.

Future ideas also include becoming a true “e-label,” whereby
bands could sell their liner notes at concerts with a code to get
the album-ful of music from the Internet; making compilation albums
to sell at coffee shops; cross-promoting music with art; and
selling eBooks. By the end of 2006, Bennitt hopes to know whether
the company will pan out financially. But until then, she
explained, “I’m not so concerned about money — I just want to be
inspired. Everyone who works for us says that it’s the one company
they’ve ever worked for where we’re doing something that’s real and
we’re not full of crap.”

4•1•1 Remembrance, a benefit concert
for the families of the victims of the Goleta postal shootings, is
Saturday, April 29, 7:30 p.m., at the Marjorie Luke Theatre.
Scheduled to perform are Crosby Loggins & the Leadbirds, The
Lonely Forest, and Jade Redd. Call 963-0761 for tickets. For more
on ARIA Global, see


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.