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« Goal Setting Workshop For 2012 | Main | The importance of good email standards »
Thursday
Dec292011

Why You Should Give Your Music Away for Free

Digital music caught the record labels off guard and smashed their business to pieces, and from the rubble new economic realities are emerging. In this new reality, most independent artists, especially those who are just starting out, should give their music away for free. Sound crazy? Maybe, but hear me out. It boils down to 3 main concepts. Starting with…

 

The Rise of Spotify and the “All You Can Eat” Music Services

Shortly after the introduction of the MP3, legal music subscription services started popping up. Companies like Rhapsody and a then-newly legalized Napster offered “all you can eat” music services. You paid a monthly subscription fee and had access to the millions of tracks in their music libraries. The services gained modest traction here in the US, but it wasn’t until the UK based Spotify arrived on US shores in July of 2011 that the concept really took off. Users flocked to the new service, which connects to Facebook to enable easy music sharing. Their basic free service got many users hooked, and many of them upgraded to paid subscription services. Now, what does this have to do with artists? Well, for better or worse, many people aren’t going to buy albums anymore with a service like this available. Why would they, when they can pay a monthly fee (about the price of a single album) for a library of thousands of their favorite albums, which they can easily share with friends? On a personal note, I have not bought a thing on iTunes since the introduction of Spotify, and even as a self-professed Apple fanboy, I have barely even opened the iTunes application (in fact, I am listening to Spotify right now as I write this). As an independent artist, you can place your music on any of these services quite easily with most digital distributors, but the payout is only pennies each time a user listens to your album, far less than iTunes or Amazon. Now, this might sound like I am gushing about these services, but the truth is that from the perspective of the music fan, it’s a much better deal for us. I want to discover and listen to lots of music, easily and inexpensively. And these services are showing no signs of slowing down. That said, the fact that independent artists earn far less for a stream is a red herring. The cannibalization of recorded sales doesn’t really matter for most indie artists, because the truth is…

 

Indie Artists don’t sell that much anyway

This isn’t my personal theory, it’s a fact. I followed the sales data from our digital distributor, FoxyMelody, for 6 years. The majority of artists make less than $10 per month. The reason for this is simple; most people are unwilling to buy music from a band they don’t know. And our data is by no means unique. There was a recent, hotly discussed article published recently on Digital Music News about another digital distributor, Tunecore. The article looked at the data of over 600,000 artists over the period of a few years and found that a majority of the artists make less than minimum wage from their online music sales. At FoxyMelody, this was absolutely true. The average artist made less than one hour of minimum wage over the course of an entire month. If that’s the case, why bother even putting your music behind a paywall in the first place? Is it worth the $6.43 you might make? Unlikely. Therefore, let people hear it, which brings us to our next point…

 

Hear/Like/Buy

Why are people unwilling to buy an album from a band they don’t know? I read this concept years ago from Music Strategist Andrew Dubber of New Music Strategies, and it has always resonated with me. The order in which a fan will interact with an artist is Hear-Like-Buy. Always. They need to hear your music before they can like it, and they need to like it before they will buy anything. You can’t skip a step here, and there are no shortcuts. Giving your music away for free allows potential new fans to get a chance to hear your music…the first step in the process. 

Now you might be asking “But if I give it away for free, what can I sell them when they like it?” Fair question. For one, having fans come to your live shows is a big win, as well as buying merchandise like T-Shirts/Posters/Buttons etc. In addition, you can still offer your music for sale as well. Free music doesn’t always mean people won’t also pay. In September of this year, the most pirated artists on BitTorrent were Jay-Z & Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Adele, David Guetta and LMFAO. Most of these albums are still in the Top 20 on Billboard. That said, these are hugely successful artists, but the overarching point is that free does not necessarily cannibalize sales. It’s merely a question of quantity. Do you think OK Go would have been as successful as they are if they had charged people to watch their famous treadmill video? Hell No. Very few people would have paid for it, and they sure as hell wouldn’t be as big as they are now. The more fans you have, the more people there are who will buy what you are selling. That could be future releases, merchandise, live shows, or whatever else you can think of. 

This concept is not new in the business world. It’s given names like freemium, content marketing, loss leaders, etc. In fact, I am putting my money where my mouth is with this very article, as I am writing it for free with the intention of you visiting our magazine, Think Like a Label. As an independent artist, you should remove any roadblocks that might prevent potential new fans from hearing your music. It is an ugly truth of the changing economics of the music business, but I’m afraid the writing is on the wall. So, just give it away. Set the music free. 

 

Jeremy Belcher is the Editor of Think Like a Label, a magazine for musicians & their people. Prior to that, he co-founded FoxyMelody Digital Distribution in 2005, one of the first companies that distributed independent music to the online music services (which we shut down this year). You can follow him on Twitter @thinklikealabel or visit Think Like a Label

Reader Comments (25)

Interesting article but a bit flawed I think.

I agree that people need to hear your music but to build your career on giving your music away as mp3 downloads is nonsensical in this day and age and this is why. The default method of discovering music online is Youtube. It is integrated with Facebook and every other social media and virtually every website in existent. Youtube is free but it is streaming technology and if you add an interesting video it is entertainment in itself.

If you are able to get on the partner programme and they have relaxed their rules a little, you can have the benefit of earning a few shekels from it as well. With that in mind your goal is to build your contacts (no more fans on Youtube and contacts and subscribers are merged) from there you can build a campaign to get your sales of your downloads boosted but only with the right record.

There is no need to waste time trying to get people to sign up to your site, they WON'T. Those that will sign up will do so as a result of checking your website out. This should be subtle. Most of them will be communicating with you on Youtube (for convenience reasons of course). We have to live with that. By all means put a link on your channel but don't expect a majority of fans to sign up.

You can also apply the above to Facebook as well. So to cut a long story short use streaming technology and a monetised one at that (Youtube) and build up your subscribers. Then at a later date do a sales push for your single, EP or album. This is how Alex Day got into the UK top 40 charts. Check out the link below

www.kingofhits.co.uk/index.php/Attitudes...y-how-we-did-it.html

December 29 | Registered CommenterKehinde azeez

You need some kind of brand recognition. it's like everything else. If people don't know you from somewhere, it's very unlikely they're not gonna listen to you, whether it's free or not. Promotion, the heavy kind, is the name of the game if you want to make more than 10 bucks a year. If you tour, it's a bit different because you can build a fan base more easily. So, it's hard to generalize.

December 30 | Unregistered CommenterUgo Capeto

So the record label way of doing business is broken? How do you think the artists you mentioned - Jay-Z & Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Adele, David Guetta and LMFAO became so popular? Because record labels spent millions and millions of dollars to promote them. Big album budgets, videos, radio promotion, big PR teams, etc. Sure the Internet played a part, but it was only one small piece of the puzzle. Do you think Adele would be as big as she is today if she followed your formula? All-You-Can consume services have been around for years. They barely post a profit and generate meager revenues to the labels and artists. Spotify is a ponzi scheme. When is goes public those at the top of the chain will make money, nobody else - especially the artists. They are the same old Tech model, but with a better PR team. The Who said it best, "meet the new boss, some as the old boss." The only difference is if Spotify does really catch on, it will devastate the industry and then everyone will be a poor independent artist. I don't know who the author is of this article, but I am willing to bet you have never worked at a major nor owned a real independent record label. You are really out of touch with the true economics of the situation. Write out an actual royalty check to an artist - one that supplies them with a living wage, then write your article.

December 30 | Unregistered CommenterMaurcie DeNoble

Here's how I interpret this article, and I do agree: If you can't accumulate fans by giving away your music, then you won't be able to get fans by charging the money for your music.

I just worry about music being de-valued even more than it already is. When people steal music, it doesn't really de-value it. They steal it because it has value. If an artist gives away their first album or a few songs off other albums for free, in a way even then they're not de-valuing their music because it's their choice to give it away, and they're likely selling (or will sell) some music that you can't get for free from them.

When the history of recorded music is available on these all-you-can-eat music buffets, that does kinda de-value it.

I used Spotify/MOG/Rdio for a while, but I think I prefer to just stick to listening to song clips on iTunes and buying standout tracks, and really giving the tracks a chance over the course of a week or two or three. If I like what I hear, I can go complete the album and check out other stuff by the artist. If I don't, I rate the songs 2 stars or so and forget about them. No big deal. When I do discover something I like, it makes it even better that I paid hard earned money for it. I never pay a cent for something that didn't at least catch my ear. With Spotify/MOG/Rdio, I pay a flat fee for my usage of the service—whether I use it for not—and they decide how to divvy my monthly payment up. That's just lame if you ask me. I doubt I'll ever stray from the iTunes/Amazon model again (other than buying Direct-to-Fan offers sometimes).

With all that said, I do like DJ'ing for people on turntable.fm. I think that's a great way to share music and discover music with people, and I think there's a lot of improvements that can be made to that service that can make it even better.

December 30 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

@ Kehinde,

Thank you for your response!

I actually think we agree on this point completely. In my post, I never suggested one platform for giving your music away over another. I would be inclined to agree that YouTube is likely the best system for this, as it has a huge built in community and is the second largest search engine on the Internet. In fact, I even referenced OK GO's famous treadmill video, which found a majority of its viewers on YouTube.

As you said, this way you can build up a subscriber base to whom you can offer paid content in the future. Plus, if you can make a few bucks using their partner program, then that's an added bonus, but it doesn't change the fact that the audience doesn't have to pay to listen to your music.


@ Ugo

Totally agree, promotion is the name of the game. The way I view free music is as a promotional tool. You can think of a track as an audio flyer.


@ Maurcie

Not even sure where to begin on this one.

"So the record label way of doing business is broken?"
- Yes, very much. That is why they are doing everything they can do move artists into 360 deals, where they can take money from touring, merchandise, licensing, etc. Money from the sales of recorded music has been declining steadily for a decade.

"Do you think Adele would be as big as she is today if she followed your formula?"
- She did follow my formula, almost exactly. She put her music on MySpace, for free, and it got so much attention it caught they eye of XL Recordings.

"Spotify is a ponzi scheme."
- No, it's not. Perhaps you should research what a Ponzi scheme is.

"I don't know who the author is of this article, but I am willing to bet you have never worked at a major nor owned a real independent record label."
- Well, my bio is at the end of the article, but from your comment I am pretty sure you didn't read the whole thing anyway. In any event, I have run an independent distributor for the last 6 years. I write checks to artists EVERY MONTH. For the last 72 months. That is actually why I wrote the article in the first place.

December 30 | Registered CommenterJeremy Belcher

Just for the record, I tried the whole "give everything away for free" thing for the past 4 years and have finally just gone back to charging for my music again. My line of thinking then was similar to this article, and it is tremendously flawed!

Treat your music as a business. Market it. Build an audience and build your list. You can give something away for free to get people on that list, and then later, you can sell to that list!

If you don't value your music, no one else will either. They might download all your songs for free and listen to them, they *might* even become fans. But their true vote is cast with their money.

December 30 | Unregistered CommenterMike Hirst

Yes, I read your bio, you ran a digital distributor that was shut down. Reasons unknown. I'm sure you do write checks, the question was, can artists actually make a living off the checks you write. I doubt it.

So you think that Adele broke strictly due to Myspace alone, then you are a novice. Try having a "heart to heart" conversation with her management to get the real story. And if for the sake a conjecture, she did simply score her deal off of Myspace play, what do you think got her into the charts? Myspace and Facebook alone? Look at the infrastructure behind the breaking of her first single.

Regarding the labels and 360 deals, that is just a growth process to maximize potential. If Elektra Records didn't spend millions breaking the Eagles 35 years ago, do you think they would still be touring today making a cool 1 mil a night? How do you think they become famous? So is it unreasonable to seek a split of that income in return for an advance? Look at the history of any company, Oracle, Apple, Microsoft, Hallmark cards. All companies eventually follow a similar trajectory and expansion of business when faced with a downturn in the market.

Show me a concrete example of how giving away music has actually pushed an artist into the charts. How has giving away music taken a band from the club level to the arenas? How has it actually helped in selling merchandise? I'm talking about real significant capital gains after the record is in the can and it is go time and has to sold.

My guess again is you have never been a musician, never been an artist manager, never worked at a legitimate i.e successful indie or major, never worked as a booking agent or merchandiser. You're just another pundit without the credentials.

All you really need to know is that 10 years ago this was a 30 to 35 billion dollar a year worldwide business and now its half that amount. More albums are released now than 10 years ago, yet fewer albums go Gold and Platinum. Only 3% of the working musicians actually make above the U.S. poverty level.

And yes I do know what a Ponzi scheme is. I suggest you talk to a Wall Street analyst or pick up a copy of WSJ. When a company does an IPO, only a few people at the top, meaning upper management and early financiers actually make money off the IPO and that's because only a fraction of the shares are actually made available in an IPO. Spotify is all about the IPO, and making a few at the top rich off the creative talents of the many. And for the record, I am a manager and concert promoter with over 30 years in the business, so I think I have the background and the economic information to support my claims. Go ahead my feather headed friend help devalue music in your quest to make the owners and backers of Spotify rich.
My guess is you're probably on their payroll.

December 30 | Unregistered CommenterMaurcie DeNoble

When you are promoting your music for the first time then it is necessary that we give our music free of cost.Since it could help to promote your music in more successful way

December 31 | Unregistered CommenterDacey

@ Mike Hirst

Thanks so much for chiming in. I would love to hear more about your experience with this idea. Would you mind shooting me an email? My address can be found on http://www.thinklikealabel.com/staff

Thanks!

January 2 | Registered CommenterJeremy Belcher

I definitely think the concept of "free" can have an impact. It's a great way of getting heard for the first time. Maybe a second time. I don't think Spotify and Pandora have as much impact as they could have someday. "Always on" internet just isn't a reality for many of us yet. With data caps on phone contracts and spotty coverage, I personally don't depend on cloud/streaming setups. And I am a very critical music listeners...so, music isn't the disposable commodity for me that it is for many. I still prefer to own my music and carry it with me.

Two resources that you might find interesting:

http://freemusicgroup.com/ - If you can get accepted, a nice free tool for promotion of a free track or two.

http://noisetrade.com/ - An interesting approach. Entire EPs/LPs given away for free. Good social tools and an integrated tip jar. I'm pretty impressed with what they are doing.

January 2 | Unregistered CommenterChuck

Just because places like Spotify exist doesn't mean they're good for music, nor does it mean we should succumb to them. In the past 3 months, multiple, multiple labels are pulling their content OFF of Spotify, saying that it hurts artists:
http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2011/11/200-labels-withdraw-their-music-from-spotify-are-its-fortunes-unravelling/all/1

January 3 | Unregistered CommenterMark

The people who write these "freemium" articles obviously don't know what they're talking about. Thanks, Maurice, for setting the author straight.

January 4 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Doves

Or, just maybe, Michael...this is a multi-layered issue, and there are legitimate points on both sides. No, wait...you have a corner on the truth. What was I thinking??

The simple fact is that success is whatever you define it to be for yourself. Maurcie has one definition of success: charts and arenas. If that's one's definition of success, then more power to you. I don't think that's reality for most indie artists without a significant bankroll and a crack marketing team. More often, it's the artist and no one else and no money.

Maurcie makes many good points. Spotify will not likely be more than beer money for most artists. I wouldn't call them a Ponzi scheme. They are like many businesses in the internet age...looking to take the fat off a market, without any real clue how to grow it long term, nor of the value of taking care of the artists that feed their system.

That doesn't mean that Spotify can't have a place in getting the word out about your music. But that's a judgment call for artists and labels to make individually. As with most other aspects of the music biz, the most popular artists are driving development of new angles with their big sales. The little guy ain't gonna see much out of it.

It still boils down to honing your craft and driving things on your own passion. The tools will change over time. What IS true, for certain, is that there's never been a better time in the history of the world for musicians to connect with an audience without middlemen and labels. How you go about doing that is up to you. There are tons of options out there, and new ones every day. If you're making great music...instead of just more music...you've got at least a chance of succeeding...whatever your definition of success is.

January 4 | Unregistered CommenterChuck

Wow, I didn't realize this conversation was still going! Whether you are for or against me, thank you all for taking the time to comment on the article. The intention was to start a discussion, and I am flattered that you are contributing.

Now, to business...

@ Chuck

Thanks for backing me up here. I agree with you that music consumption habits are very personal, and people are going to do what they want. I still have friends who buy CDs, for reasons that are beyond me. These new services are very appealing, but are by no means the only method of listening to music. That said, I think in time, they will be the dominant force. Also, thanks for pointing me in the direction of those services. As a matter of fact, the CEO of Noisetrade emailed me after this article came out to let me know about the service. Do you have any experience with it? I would love to learn more about it.

@ Mark

Thanks for sending over the link to the Wired article. I can certainly see why labels are pulling their music off Spotify and the related services, as the payout per stream is nominal. That said, I think these labels are ultimately shooting themselves in the foot. When it becomes the norm for people to access giant libraries of music, as Spotify, Rdio, Rhapsody, Mog, and others do, those labels and artists who are outside of these systems are the ones who are going to suffer, because if I want to hear them and they aren't in the system, I will simply move on to another artist. I think its critical that artists get themselves into these systems and then use channels like live, merch, licensing, premium content, etc to make money.

@ Michael Doves

Freemium can work. In fact, as I pointed out in my post, this article itself is a freemium marketing strategy for our site Think Like a Label. And it worked. We have seen insane traffic growth, as well as a bunch of new signups for our email list and RSS feeds. The point is that if you put something out there that people are interested in, it can generate the type of attention that you want.

Thank You again everyone!

January 5 | Registered CommenterJeremy Belcher

This topic always brings up passionate responses from both sides, and many valid points on either side as well. Jeremy is absoutely right about one critical fact that BOTH sides can not argue abou:

We are all facing the same economic reality right now... digital music has begun to outsell physical media. The last great sea change of this nature was back in 1988, when CDs first outsold vinyl, but that was still a move from one physical format to another. This shift is historic in light of the fact that it is the first time we've encountered a tipping point between a physical, and non-physical medium. These facts are incontrovertible, whether you agree with Maurcie or Jeremy, or fall somewhere in between. Maurcie's angry responses prove that this is a push-button issue for many, especially those still employed in the failing major label market, but I suggest that the actual reason for the current state of affairs is not the simple fact that digital music came to be. Digital music fueled the CD market, which has made the labels a LOT of money, so it was not the root cause.

The main cause of the labels' demise was their loss of total control over the market. Once the barriers to entry were destroyed by technological advances, musicians no longer had to go through the gatekeepers to become entrepreneurs. If you control the only water source in a desert, you will become obscenely wealthy due to that artificial market. But what if well-springs suddenly pop up in every person's tent, and you are no longer needed?

Regardless of HOW the independent musicians are succeeding, (and I suspect it's a combination of all ideas mentioned here and more still) they are obviously SUCCEEDING on greater and greater numbers every year. It is not rational to try to deny the existence of the many musicians forging careers outside of the traditional system.

No matter which side of this argument we fall on, we are all facing the same inexorable eventualities, and I feel it's long past time for the major label market and the indie market to come together and learn to work as one, and begin to control this freefall. Otherwise the major label music industry will only continue to crash, and eventually the majors will burn out completely. Both markets need each other, there is no reason for an "independent" market, when there is no longer a major market to be independent FROM.

January 7 | Unregistered CommenterNoelRamos

Since the dawn of time labels have been giving music away for free. It's called radio. This of course is free to the consumer but with limits. The internet equivalent is some form of interactive streaming and the only one to me that makes any sense is Youtube or video streaming in general.
At least with them there is an incentive for people to download the full quality audio version. It is not quite the same as in the heyday of the CD model but in the current climate this is the lesser of all the evils.

At least with Youtube artists can develop a good income stream just by posting videos and can recruit fans and subscribers and mobilise them to support an album or single.

Also most of the people on this site are outside of the major label machinery so arguing in favour of the majors is all well and good but irrelevant for most people on here as they are not likely to be signed anytime soon which is why they are here.

But each artist have to find their own way and for some people giving away downloads of their music is their model so who are we to tell them what to do. The music industry does not have a right to exist. It needs to find away to exist in the current climate so bemoaning about the past is stupid. Times have changed, get over it, adapt and move on.

January 8 | Registered CommenterKehinde azeez

I agree with the direction of this article - new and established artists need to think different and think about new revenue streams! You CAN give content away - it just doesn't have to be all of it! Artists should consider the freemium model - 7 of the top 10 social games are fremium, yet Zynga is worth more than EA. Please see my article about thinking beyond recorded music on my site Disruptive Music

January 8 | Unregistered CommenterShep

Hi Guys,

I'm an independent artist who makes an actual living (over 50K) a year from playing. I completely agree with Maurice in every reguard. "Freemium -> maybe we can sell some damn t-shirts" is devaluing actual music to the point where it pays so low to the creators (remember the guys and girls who actually MAKE this stuff might want a piece of the pie too???) that they CANNOT make a living at it. The quality suffers when potentially talented people decide to go elsewhere because they can make a living much easier in another field.

Giving away stuff for free might work for large corporations like McDonalds who get a real shot in the arm when they have "free coffee day" or something like that. But that doesn't mean the local coffee shop can afford the same thing.

Indie artists (like me) should be selling their CDs at live showsfor $20 (like I do). If someone says they can't afford it I say "OKay, well I've been a starving student too so here's a freebie"

They just got a $20 value for free. They feel indebted to me, it's called reciprocity.

For the people who pony over the $20 they freaking listen to the album like 5-10 times to get their money's worth which means it grows on them even if they don't INSTANTLY love each song. They come back to future shows and sing along with each song and buy the NEXT CD for $20 without hesitation.
If I sold them for $5 (or $1 like some idiots I have heard of on warped tour) it wouldn't have the same effect. $5 is a freaking tip people, $20 is an investment in a career.
Think of how ripped off they would feel if they bought the first one for $5 then you said "the next one is $15". When you sell stuff for low prices or FREE you automatically put yourself in the walmart bargain bin of people's minds. It's much better to ask for a high number and settle somewhere in the middle and make the other person feel like they got a "deal" then just take your pants off.

Musicians are the freaking worst business people I know, mostly because they take advice from people like Jeremy. Guess what Jeremy? your business probably wouldn't exist if you didn't have aspiring musicians to suck off of.


When you get 100 e-mails from bands you don't know "Download my music for free" I for one, NEVER respond. Because it reeks of desperation.

@ David Cavan Fraser

Funny that your album is on Spotify (for free), I listened to your music on Youtube and Myspace (for free). And on your own website you give the song"I drink alone" away for free.
So I think you don't completely agree with Maurcie on fremium!

I agree with you that musicians are the worst business people. But not because they take advice from Jeremy, but because they're screwed by the recording company.
When the Dutch band Focus (remember Hocus Pocus?) broke up in the 70ties they were in debt with the record company for $1,500.000! They made millions for the record company, but they had a bad contract. They could sign off their contract/debt if they agreed that the record company had the rights to all their albums. After 30 years that company still makes money off of them.

Btw I like your album, but I'm not gonna pay $20 for it, Too expensive.

January 10 | Registered CommenterHarry D

Fully agree with Mike Hirst's strategy.

Here's another way of thinking about this "Give your music away for a reason" (a subtle but powerful difference):

(Tip: Be very clear what your reason/strategy is)

This article is typical of mooches & those who stand to gain from free music give away. What thing do you ever get in this life that is worth a shit & free? Answer, NOTHING. It's bullshit, that there are those who seem to use the theory, that because the Artist or music is not known, it should be given away for free, so that people will come to appreciate it! Why do you think mp3 was created? so the listener could listen to a song as many times as they liked. I think someones ear will tell them whether they like a song or not. So then, why should an Artist give there music away for free, if that's the case? Simple, it's a ploy to get Artists music for free, because people are to cheap & unappreciative of the amount of work that goes into creating something of great value, pure & simple!! Lets mooch off the backs of hard working, creating musicians. What makes then seem to think that they need to make a living off there music, right! mooches!!

January 11 | Unregistered CommenterMusic Guy

Though I agree and disagree I'm not going to make length comments like others who are much more passionate about "F**K FREE!". I only disagree with one point and have a statement.

I'm glad you can find new music on Spotify and similar services. I use iTunes all the time. Why? I have what I would call a fair cd library (413 not including the stack of demo cds from small stores I go to) and I like listening to it once and a while. I like listening to the Refused. I like listening to Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen, Hawkwind, in short I like listening to what I own. I've used music services. For me it's "meh" at best. Where do I still find my music? Small mom and pop music stores. Sometimes the depth of the internet. The sorrow I have is that I find a new band, and I go to a "massive music online player" and I can't find the band. Why? I don't know, by what I am reading (might not be what you are saying) I should be able to find these bands. So in short, sure the mass public may benefit to their ever changing palates but it just doesn't cut it for some of us.

Everything else I agree with. I also demanded to be paid by the person who had me watch that OK Go video. Didn't like them then, still don't like them. Glad others do.

With all due respect, I think this is pretty horrible advice and very oversimplified. As others have mentioned, free downloads can be used strategically to help expand and reward your fanbase but this article seems to suggest that artists should spend their time and money making quality music to just give it away? That's very flawed advice and as a full time musician (UK based hip hop artist) who has sold and is still selling thousands of albums 100% independently (no label, manager, agent, anything!) I strongly disagree with this.

People will always value something they've paid for more than what they got for free. I can personally vouch that I'm more inclined to listen to a CD/mp3 I paid for first, over something I got for free because I assume a level of quality and I've invested in it. There is no absence of free music online. In fact, there is too much.

Also, giving away a lot of your music can cultivate the wrong culture amongst fans. This isn't always the case but as a young, upcoming artist, I want my fan base to expect to and WANT to buy my music. Not just expect everything to be free. I could wax lyrical for much longer but that'll do for now. Apologies if anything came across as blunt but I do feel that advice like this is somewhat harmful to up and comers who don't know any better.

1,
Zuby

January 19 | Registered CommenterZuby Music

Hi, I wanted to point out, that I really think, as a whole, the conclusion that I have of this society. Because this happens with music, and the economy, and all together. And I mean, that a long time ago, they were scientists looking for a better way to live, all the appliances that we have, the mp3, the mobile now can be your laptop, isn't it amazing???all new ideas, but, it's obvious there has been a stop, having more ideas to develope for the next future, and WE ARE IN THE FUTURE, and now, nobody knows what to do!!!!The problem in my opinion, is the fault of values, I hear music and I download it, but when I really love an album, I buy IT, why???I like the cd, the lyrics, the design, everything, even the thanks message. And I keep on listening the best music ever nowadays. Maybe not everybody does this, but if I have money, I like buying 1 album every month. So, what society needs right now is to worth everything in life, for me the music is the only think that makes me happy, perhaps for another person is another thing, but at the end, everybody likes music,so???The albums need to have something else, if I had the chance to record an album, I'd do it and see the results, but at the moment, I would need someone to give me that chance ;-)

February 2 | Unregistered Commenteredurne

First, thanks for this article. I found it while looking for creative ways to offer my music for free - something I'm about to start doing. I love creating music and the only thing it will cost me is time. I already have a good setup and can record digital music in various formats. Most of my gear already pays for itself as I use it teach and hire. My plan is to record to MP3 and load it onto YouTube so people can listen and download as they please with the option of going to my website to do the same. Also, because I'm good at art and photography, I may offer personally created compilation CDs at the cost of postage and physical material, only. Just wanted to share some ideas.

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