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Giving away music to sell music
Old 15th November 2007
  #1
soulstudios
Guest
Giving away music to sell music

The question on everyone's lips:
In your experience:
Does giving away our music ala Radiohead et all with the option to pay, actually devalue music or does it in fact work in the way Andrew Dubber describes it-
i.e, in the digital age, there's no actual scarcity (when talking about media downloads) - the only scarcity is human attention, therefore 15 million downloads and 15000 sales is a reasonable marketing strategy?
Obviously most of us would prefer it not to work this way ie. if people value music enough to listen to it, they should actually be willing to spell out their value in dollar signs- this being a capitalist society after all.

Myself I opted for a half-way approach, which I'd actually decided on before Radiohead did their thang: giving away 128kbps mp3's while leaving the option for cheap payments for higher quality versions (flacs or mp3's), via simple credit card payments, while simultaneously
putting my stuff onto iTunes etc (some via tunecore, some via others).
My site is here.
I've got a few promotional things coming up, once the songs make their way onto iTunes, but nothing fancy. The main point is getting the community involved, and perhaps making some money while I'm at it.

Obviously I know that most people won't hear the difference between a 128kbps MP3 and a 320kbps one, but I'm sure there'll be enough people who do to make a difference. What do you think of this strategy in and of itself?
Matt
Old 15th November 2007
  #2
Founder CD Baby
 
Derek Sivers's Avatar
 

Smile Get them thinking about YOU, not bitrates

Quote:
Originally Posted by soulstudios View Post
giving away 128kbps MP3s while leaving the option for cheap payments for higher quality versions ... What do you think of this strategy in and of itself?
Sounds like you've got the right idea.

The more people that have your music, the better.

You can always just ask people what they want, too! Treat your fans as friends and respect their opinion.

I think the medium-versus-high quality thing might be putting the emphasis in the wrong place. Most people would just shrug and say, "Oh, well, if that's the only difference, I guess the medium-quality is fine for me!"

Instead, at this stage in your career, there are probably lots of people who would love to help you in any way they can. Help you become the next Fat Freddy's Drop, so they can say they were one of the first people to buy your music before anyone knew who you were!

So perhaps try the idea of letting people pay not only as little as they want, but also as much as they want.

Show them what their contribution will be going towards:

"If 100 people could pay just $15 to download this great album, that $1500 will pay the travel costs for us to play The Rainbow in Melbourne and The Basement in Sydney, which could really help take our career to the next level. We really want to get our music out there more, and if you like our music, this small contribution from you to help that dream come true. Everyone who pays over $25 will have a permanent thank-you on our website. Everyone who pays over $50 will be thanked on the back cover of our upcoming CD."

Taking this approach can help educate your fans on how and why their contribution will make a big difference.

Get them thinking about you, and how much work it is to be a musician, instead of bitrates.
Old 15th November 2007
  #3
soulstudios
Guest
Thank you Derek-
I appreciate your points - that's some deep insight there.
I will look at implementing what you've detailed,
I particularly like the idea of 'educating the public' - that's seriously a big issue in the music industry at the moment - I think people assume music just 'pops' out of people without any energy going into it- as you know, nothing could be further from the truth. Not quite so keen on the donation idea - but I think you're right.
Glad to know you've heard of Fat Freddy's - I'd assumed nobody outside of my country would've!
Cheers,
Matt Bentley
Old 16th November 2007
  #4
Peter Wells, SVP Operations, Customer Advocate - Tunecore
 
PeterTuneCore's Avatar
 

So much in life comes down to cost. Radiohead made a decision based on what it would cost them--and they had resources not everyone has (a huge fan base, press agents, plenty of money if the plan backfired, etc.). Extrapolating a philosophy into action or, more, into actual questions of the value of music can lead folks into "overspending": doing things that cost them in ways they can't afford to lose.

That having been said, you've clearly got a good grip on what you have and, more, a belief that your music isn't a single thing, but many: that the 320kbps version is a different entity from a 128kbps version, that the sale (or giveaway) of one might lead to the sale (purchase) of the other, that there's an audience that appreciates the difference, enough to cover your costs.

If everyone was as informed about what they stand to gain, to lose, and everyone had a good grasp of their own tolerances (that is, some folks break out in hives at the thought of a single person "getting" their music for free, while others don't even consider a 128kbps version their music at all!), we'd have a better time of it.

--Peter
peter@tunecore.com
Old 16th November 2007
  #5
soulstudios
Guest
Thanks for the kind words

What do you think of Derek's ideas re: focusing on the meme of what the purchase enables for the musician, as opposed to the grander audio quality?

My only feeling about this is that it feels too much like begging, and I personally am opposed to the musician-as-beggars image. I feel musicians are too important to allow consumers to treat them like beggars-
of course, that's what happens anyway.
Much appreciation & respect,
M@
Old 16th November 2007
  #6
Lives for gear
 
juniorhifikit's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterTuneCore View Post
...

If everyone was as informed about what they stand to gain, to lose, and everyone had a good grasp of their own tolerances (that is, some folks break out in hives at the thought of a single person "getting" their music for free, while others don't even consider a 128kbps version their music at all!), we'd have a better time of it.

--Peter
peter@tunecore.com
I'm going to take a giant step backwards to hypothetically guard the notion that the music industry model is not broken and say: a lot of these philosophies seem like damage control. Why can't we call stealing what it is and legislate accordingly?

I mean to ask this in the most positive and constructive way - I'm not just being contrarythumbsup

Last edited by juniorhifikit; 18th November 2007 at 11:19 AM.. Reason: clarity
Old 16th November 2007
  #7
Lives for gear
 
DontLetMeDrown's Avatar
 

I am a small fish around here, but one of the bands I recorded has sold thousands of CDs more than any other band I've worked with. I ask them how the hell they've sold so many and they said they made a pact that they would not give the CD out free to anyone. It just so happened that they started a mini reggae explosion in their college town. When I last talked to them about it (about a year ago) they had sold over 7k albums of the demo I did at $10 a pop. This was over the course of one year. They now have a newer album (which I did not do) which I'm sure has sold decent too since they've been touring like mad. They told me they've also made over 8k on iTunes so far. These numbers might sound small to you guys, but in my small circle it is HUGE. Also bear in mind that it is only 5 guys that manage everything.

Every time I hear about someone giving their music away for free, I think of these guys. There are plenty of people around that still buy music-- it just has to be good.
Old 16th November 2007
  #8
Personally, I'm not willing to wait until someone legislates music downloading and then gives me a call to tell me "everything's ok now, you can go, it's safe."

Putting free 128 kbit mp3 is great because people can listen to your stuff and then decide immediately if they like your music and then decide if they wan't to buy it. Plus it gives you a sense of being fair as you are giving away a low quality mp3 and then selling a high-quality mp3 (an oxymoron?) to folks who get interested in your music.
Truth is that no matter how many people download your stuff from kazaa or someplace else, the ones who like it will end up buying your CD if they care enough. Those who didn't like it won't buy it and they are not your target audience anyway. In that sense, if some kid who is used to downloading every single album he hears of, goes and downloads your music and then likes it, you at least have a chance for him to go and buy your album. Chances are that if he didn't find you in there he won't even bother to look elsewhere.

And lastly, you can't make people care by legislating. As someone said earlier they need to be educated.
Old 16th November 2007
  #9
We can and if people want to give songs away, there'd be nothing stopping them.



The fact is, from the artist's point of view, if every person who had a copy of the album was a fan and attended a concert, financially it would be better to give away 50 million albums than to sell 10 or 20 million.



(Hi Derek, long time no see/talk!)
Old 16th November 2007
  #10
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

We don't need to legislate, we need to encourage prosecution. If people began filing criminal charges, it would probably change peoples' behavior quite a bit.

This far only civil lawsuits have been filed because criminal charges really wreck a persons' life and the labels are still bending over backwards trying to be nice guys.
Old 21st November 2007
  #11
Lives for gear
 
juniorhifikit's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Baddo View Post
Putting free 128 kbit mp3 is great because people can listen to your stuff and then decide immediately if they like your music and then decide if they wan't to buy it. .
They won't buy. They'll just keep the free 128kbit file. Go ask the kids with their mp3 players - I have. "How much of the music on yer iPod did you buy?" None they say


Quote:
if some kid who is used to downloading every single album he hears of, goes and downloads your music and then likes it, you at least have a chance for him to go and buy your album.
But they don't buy. they just take

Quote:
And lastly, you can't make people care by legislating.
No, but they won't have the means to rob musicians blind.

I have nothing against people giving away their own music as a promo or whatever - it's their choice. I still say that most people under 25 don't pay for the music on their players.
Old 22nd November 2007
  #12
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DontLetMeDrown View Post
There are plenty of people around that still buy music-- it just has to be good.
AMEN!

Got a check from CDbaby on it's way as we speak!
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