People will download your music for free – it’s a fact and you aren’t going to stop it.
What you can do though, is engage in some smart ‘search engine optimisation’ so that a page offering your music (perhaps for free in exchange for an email) in an easy to obtain way (or perhaps a very cheap one click download) ranks above any pages that you might see come up in a search where people could download for free – e.g. torrents or rapidshare and that kind of thing.
We looked at band website SEO in that post on our main blog, and the video I made is very good basic training. I suggest you check it out if you need to learn the first steps.
But, this post on Music Think Tank deals with specifically setting up your SEO to make sure that your site ranks highly when people search for ‘your band free download’ or ‘your band torrent’. It’s a tricky skill to master but I believe in SEO for musicians and think you should take the time to learn what it can do for you.
Sean Parker of Napster fame recently stated in an interview, “you look at the data, somewhere between 4 trillion and 10 trillion songs are illegally downloaded every year. And we’re looking at maybe 4 billion or so legal downloadeds per year.”
Music will always surface on file sharing platforms and consumers will continue to download music for free, but recordings are even more important for artists than ever before. There is a new purpose for recorded content; artists will no longer generate revenue directly from recordings, instead this will be the entrance point for consumers into the brand. Great music will generate revenue through merch or ticket purchases, or lead to sponsorships as major brands seek out artists to enhance the value of their own product. The solution to file sharing is for artists to better manage their recorded music by creating a dedicated landing page on their own website, housing a free album download.
Note that Google has started very recently filtering some of the ‘piracy’ words out of elements of their search (see this Mashable piece for that news) and I expect this to increase, but this remains a very sensible strategy.