A few years ago I wrote up a short piece explaining one (of many) ways that musicians could still make money while giving away their music via file sharing. The system I proposed could help a musician get more fans, and even make more money than going the traditional route. We were told it would never work, but it appears that ArtistShare is taking an approach similar to what we suggested -- and succeeding with it. The basic concept (which we discussed when it first launched) is that the musician should use their music for promotional purposes, and sell something else. In the past, this has mostly been concert tickets or merchandise -- but it's possible to sell much more. And that's exactly what ArtistShare does. It lets musicians sell whatever they want: early access to new songs, signed copies of albums, writing a song specifically for someone or even a co-producer credit -- and use that to finance the creation of new music (I still like the idea of selling a personal backyard concert). The first artist who used the system, Maria Schneider, won a Grammy last year with her album produced this way -- and says that it turned out to be a lot more profitable than earlier albums produced the traditional way. It's good to see some people getting how they can actually embrace what fans want, and still make money. It's about time the recording industry recognized that it's not about them against people who want to listen to music, but working out business models that benefit everyone. It's a basic recognition that you should get paid to do something, rather than paid for what you've done in the past. However, what you've done in the past helps promote what you can do in the future, and can enhance how much people are willing to spend on those future endeavors.
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