Thursday, May 14

Free Is Dead!

After Radiohead, NIN and Saul Williams introduced and reaped the benefits from allowing fans to download their albums for free, the music industry embraced this trend and the “free” or “pay-what-you-want” model became the standard. Overnight, artists felt that giving their fans what they wanted would be more valuable than making a profit from their albums. Two years after the “free” pandemic, industry leaders such as Seth Godin and Kate Bradley are beginning to question the effectiveness of the “free” model. The market is already oversaturated with new acts. To add to the matter, majority of the new acts are giving away their music for free and performing live for free. In their eyes, free giveaways and free performances equal more attention and more publicity. This is true; however, what they fail to realize is, if everyone around you is using the same technique for the same reason, before long, you will have to compete for attention. What does this mean? Artists will have to find creative ways to add more value to their “free” package to attract more attention. Or, artists can become more creative and add more value to their music to attract more fans to purchase their albums, tickets for their performances and merchandise. At the end of the day, supply and demand reigns supreme. The supply of “free” music is high while the demand for it is decreasing. The supply of “quality” music is low and the demand for it is increasing. Before you begin recording and mixing your album on Garageband or Audacity (free recording software), pressing up copies on your desktop or laptop for free and handing out free copies at your free concert, think about effectiveness, the strategy and the quality behind your “free” campaign. When Nas claimed “Hip Hop Is Dead”, I understood the underlying meaning behind his statement that we need to be more creative and bring quality to the art form. My words may not have the same impact, but I take the same approach by saying “Free Is Dead”.

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