This story was written by Stu Woo, Brown Daily Herald
"Client 9" may have never patronized AmieStreet.com. But he may have drawn hundreds of thousands of dollars to this small, online music store founded by three young Brown alums.
Last Wednesday, the New York Times identified Ashley Alexandra Dupre as the call girl hired by "Client 9," or former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Soon thereafter, Dupre uploaded her music to the site, and Amie Street was bombarded by users wanting to listen to the music of the woman who helped fell the former bane of Wall Street.
Dupre is an artist on Amie Street, where she exclusively sells her music, said co-founder Josh Boltuch '06. As of yesterday, Dupre's two tracks, "What We Want" and "Move Ya Body," were the music store's top two sellers for the month, outselling songs by established artists during that period.
Silicon Alley Insider reported Monday that according to Hitwise, an online measurement company, Amie Street's traffic jumped 650 percent from March 12 to March 13, the day after Dupre's name came out in the press. Boltuch and Elliott Breece '06, another founder, said they didn't have exact numbers for the traffic increase, but did see a huge bump.
"We were expecting a spike - maybe not a spike as high as the one we received," Breece said. "I think the reason was more that it wasn't a bad track. She has a good voice."
Media outlets have given estimates that sales of the songs, which currently cost 98 cents each, may have already reached $1.4 million. Boltuch could not confirm any numbers, saying it was against company policy to release sales information for any artists. But he said Dupre, like any artist on the site, would keep 70 percent of her sales, while Amie Street would keep the other 30 percent.
Boltuch added that "Move ya Body" became the fastest track in the site's history to reach 98 cents, the top price. Amie Street has a unique pricing policy in which songs become more expensive as they become more popular.
More than a dozen media outlets have written about Dupre's connection to the music store during the past week.
"With the Eliot Spitzer scandal, it got a lot of people to read about Amie Street," Boltuch said, adding that many people who learned about Dupre learned about the music store's distinctive model as well.
"Free press is awesome - it's like free soup," Breece said. "It's so completely from left field that we definitely just got lucky."
Boltuch and Breece said the site never went down or even slowed down during the bump in traffic. Amie Street traffic is still up a week after the spike, Breece added.
Breece said the small company, which has about a dozen employees, had been buzzing for the past week. They haven't sent a thank-you note to Dupre, nor have they blared the tracks, which he described as "solid do-it-yourself pop R&B," in their Queens, N.Y., office. But Breece said he is glad Dupre was able to make the best out of her situation.
"We created a model that lets people ... leverage attention - and I won't put any value judgment on that attention - but putting leverage into being heard and making money and, hopefully, for making a career out of music," Breece said.
Boltuch, Breece and Elias Roman '06 founded Amie Street in 2006, naming it after Amy Street in Providence, where the three lived when they were seniors. Boltuch said this summer, the company will have 20 employees, about half of whom will be Brown alums.
© 2008 Brown Daily Herald via U-WIRE