Should MusISHans Give Away Their Music for Free?

I’ve heard both sides of the story, and they both sound compelling. Let’s discuss them here, and you can decide which is the best method for your career.

TO Give Away Music for Free

Some artists believe if they give their music away at no cost, they can reach more people. The reasoning behind this is artists think that their potential fans will listen for free, like them, and pay to come out and see the band’s performances. This way, bands will make their money off of performances and merchandise sales. I’ve read several articles that say to give away the music for free and make your money elsewhere. Some artists make their EPs free, and sell ringtones, t-shirts, and posters.

The Upside

  • People love to get free stuff. They will gladly accept a cd or a free download. Because of this, the artist’s goal of getting more people to listen to their music works. People who may not have wanted to spend money to hear someone they’ve never heard of will be more open to trying it out for free. The artist may be able to grow his/her fan base more quickly with this method.

The Downside

  • Even though people may be polite and accept the free cd that the artist hands out, they may not actually listen to it. The problem with selling ringtones is most smart phones offer ways to use an mp3 as a ringtone, so the band would be missing out on ringtone sales. The only way the band could make money off of merchandise is if they actually convert potential fans into concertgoers. If they make it to the concert, they may actually purchase the merchandise. Until then, the artist is just giving out free stuff and keeping hope alive.

NOT TO Give Away Music for Free

If you are sensitive about your art, you might feel that the most important part of your artistry is the music. So why give the most important piece away for free? Some people feel that their music should have some price value placed on it, even if it is a small price.

The Upside

  • Selling your music even for a nominal price let’s people know that you are serious about the business of music. Artists can make back the money that they spent on cd duplication. When bands perform or are a part of other events, they can give away copies, and people will feel special to have won or received something exclusive for free. When you sell your music, you can use digital music stores like iTunes and Amazon to help distribute your music online and around the world.

The Downside

  • People who haven’t heard your music before may be a little hesitant about spending their money on your cd. If the price is too high, you may not only lose a sale, but you may miss out on gaining potential fans. When you are selling your music, you have to do a lot more to convince potential fans to convert to fans and purchase your cd. Though artists’ goal is to perform regularly, cd sales become dependent upon great performances.

So, musISHans, what do you think now?

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