We looked at this issue once before in the context of charging for online shows.
Interestingly, in that particular situation, evidence suggests that charging more increases sales – check it out.
But this post is about the whole idea of the effectiveness of giving away music and whether it is the right course for musicians.
I had a conversation with an artist manager this week who partly believed that giving away music to those who had already become a fan (by being on an email list or ‘liking’ on Facebook etc) was the best way to use freemium.
I categorically disagree.
I think giving away free music is THE key to building a fanbase in the DIY musician world. By that I mean the exchange of some free music (a selection of tracks – perhaps 6 or so – rather than 1) in return for an email address and the potential fan’s time invested in making a judgement on your music. But, I also think that this article makes a great point. Don’t just give away the farm on first contact. Give something (preferably from your own site rather than in a Twitter DM) and then entice that listener into a deeper relationship.
Don’t bombard them with free material at the get-go! Let the two way relationship build (Funnily enough, using an autoresponder such as Aweber, as we recommend, is the ideal way to do this).
I don’t agree with the whole of Dave Cool’s article (basically as I know free works for my clients) but the measured approach that he is advocating is very much the way to go!
The argument for giving away your music is that you should simply want to have your music heard, and since people can generally find music online for free, then why bother putting a price tag on it? Live shows, merchandise, licensing, and subscriptions are just some of the ways that bands are encouraged to generate revenue. However, should artists just give up selling their music? Are we to believe that nobody buys music anymore? I’m not so sure that’s the case.