I came across (thanks to Walter from the Global Texan Chronicles) an interesting article giving three reasons why you should not give away your music for free, you can read the article HERE. You know I give some of my music away for free, in fact if you sign up to my mailing list, you get eight free tracks. But then again, is it free? I am giving it away as an exchange, or a reward if you like, for signing up to my mailing list. But I do this in good faith. I manage my mailing list in a way that I believe is ethically correct. I don’t spam, and people are free to sign off the list at anytime, in fact there are few people who signed on, downloaded the tracks and signed off immediately. I manage my mailing list with Mailchimp and in these cases I get an email that the person has left my list. It automatically deletes the email address and I usually delete the notice email straight away as well, so I have no record of the Email address after this. I do this as I think that people have the right to sign off at any stage, and I only want to have people on my list that really want to hear from me. I’ll take quality over quantity any day 🙂 But at the same time, those eight tracks is only about 10% of the music I have to offer right now, so if they want to support me, they can do so by purchasing as little or as much music as they want.
In the article it claims that free music is forgettable. I am a music fan and I can tell you this is load of bull crap for any true music fan. We live in a time where streaming has become a standard. There are many albums my local record store does not stock, that I listen to on Spotify. If I get to see them live and the album is available, I will buy it, or if I come across the album on my travels, I will buy it. The fact that I pay for music, does not make it any better. The quality of the music makes it better, maybe sometimes the association of the music with a special moment can make it special for you, but money? That does not make it better.
The article also claims that giving away free music will decrease your brand value. This is something I really don’t get at all. Music, is not a physical product anymore, it is captured in digital form. Sure you can still buy a physical product, but in the modern society we need to look at music more like digital commodity (software) or a service. This does not mean it has any less value, in fact I think in our society slowly, but surely the music is starting to have even more profound purpose, as so many of us feel the need to experience something real. If you look at any other field of business, the new model is to build a large loyal following by offering a great free product, and then offer an added upgrade to it. This is what Spotify, Soundcloud, Dropbox and so many other extremely successful companies (with an extremely well though out and valuable brand) are doing. So no, I do not for a second think giving something away for free decreases your brand value.
The last point they make is that giving away your music does not give you an edge. Due to the fact that every musician is doing it now, it does not give you and edge? OK I give you that it is good to try to do something different, but at the same time, if something has been proven to work, I think you would be pretty stupid to not do it. Unless you have found something that works better, and if you have I’d love to hear what it is, stick to the stuff that works. Sitting on top of your music as an unknown artist and shouting at the top of your voice that you won’t give away your music for free will not persuade anybody to buy your music. Tried it and I can tell you it does not work!
Think about it, being overly precious about your music make you look like that kid on the sandbox who does not want anybody to play with their toys. The one having a tantrum every time someone comes close. Music by its nature is supposed to be shared, otherwise, what’s the point of it all?
The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE