Last year, for Good Morning Silicon Valley I wrote up a possible business model that encouraged free file sharing, with the core of the idea being that musicians offered a lot more to people than just the music on their CD. By seeing the music itself as a promotional item for other products, they could encourage more people to download their music for free, while still making money. It appears a few others are starting to get this idea, and while we've posted links to a few music labels like Magnatune and Loca that seem to get it somewhat, this New York Times article about ArtistShare suggests some musicians are really catching on. While most of the article focuses on how ArtistShare cuts out many of the middlemen, there are a couple of paragraphs that note that much of the focus is on letting the free downloadable music encourage people to sign up for much, much more -- such as "access to printed scores, rehearsal sessions, interviews, post-concert question-and-answer sessions and commentaries." Another musician offers an online music lesson. What's fascinating is that for the jazz artist most discussed in the piece, Maria Schneider, her fans are spending an average of $53 -- much more than they would spend on a CD. Also, much of that money goes directly to her, rather than to the record company. Now, the problem with this model still, is that it's small time, and there's no publicity included. So, none of the musicians are getting as much attention. However, they are getting more money, and that's a start. If more musicians realize they can start actually making money this way, then it may force more record labels to embrace this type of model -- while including promotions in the package.
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