Everyone Likes Free

The question that is rapidly arising in our day and age is this: how much should music really be worth? With an industry that has almost completely shifted to the digital world, we see more and more people relying on streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Pandora, etc. Almost any song we want to listen to is readily available to us with a couple of keystrokes. While this can seem like a dream come true for the consumer, let’s think about the artist for a minute. What do they think about this?

Trent Reznor on the Music Industry

Trent Reznor (frontman of Nine Inch Nails) has a very compelling approach to the way he’s distributed his music in the past. With record prices rising and torrenting becoming more and more popular, he began putting his music up online to download for free. That didn’t mean that his fans couldn’t pay for it if they didn’t want to. For example, NIN’s album Ghosts was released under a Creative Commons license (in other words; free) and within a week, that album generated $1.6 million. Think about that for a minute. People didn’t HAVE to pay for that album. That should set an example for other artists. Reznor reached out and supported his fans and in return, they supported him.

Personally, I decided to try this approach to distributing my music. Last year, I came out with two different releases. For one of them, I charged $5 and the other for free. Sure enough, the album I put out for free had a much greater success than the one I charged for. Why? I’m not completely sure, but I have a feeling it’s because fans notice when you give back to them and instead of needing to pay for the music, they want to.

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(Download, purchase, and play stats from Bandcamp)

  • Free release: July 4th – Oct 3rd 
  • Charged release: Oct 3rd – Nov 27th

With all of the talk about streaming and piracy killing the music industry, I actually don’t think we’re headed in a bad direction. With free online services such as Bandcamp, the artist can make the choice of how much they want to charge for their music, if anything at all. Streaming sites are a great way for new and old artists to get their music out there and services like Tunecore can help them out immensely for a small fee.

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