Interesting news this morning from the Tender Loving Empire camp. The local label/retailer/general-force–for-good is setting the gears in motion to begin selling its music according to a "pay-what-you-like" retail model.

TLE describes what it is dubbing "The Priceless Music Project" in a document no less epic than a straight-up manifesto:

"The cat is out of the bag. Music is free. Despite what record labels, the federal government or Metallica has to say about it, your favorite album is available for free somewhere on the internet and all you have to do is find it and hit download. You will not be arrested. The police will not come to your house. But, if you're like most people you might feel a little melancholy about the whole situation? Not because you're worried James Hetfield might go hungry but because you know that the artist whose music you love, won't be seeing any compensation from your free download. Until now, the only alternative for someone in this situation would be to break down and buy the music…

We are raising funding for the development and implementation of an e-commerce platform that will enable independent record labels and bands to sell their music on a "pay-what-you-want" basis. Your donations go towards the nuts and bolts of digital platform development that will require constant updates, reworking and tweaking of the look, traits, and functionality of the platform based on user feedback."

The press release and accompanying video (see below) goes on to describe how the label's releases will now be available on its website on a sliding price scale. TLE is planning to test-drive this project over the following year. Its next five releases are slated to be available under the new system, with Y La Bamba's Court the Storm leading the way in late February.

The label is soliciting donations through in order to fund the project and has so far made it $150 towards its $48,000 goal. There is a range of incentives for donating, most impressive of which is the opportunity to give a middle name to label owners Jared and Brianna Mees' firstborn daughter.

Of course, that's only if you're willing to pony up the entire $48K, a hindrance that will in no way keep me from writing out an extensive list of middle names that rhyme with "Mees." [Fleas? Tease? Cheese? -Ed.]