More And More Musicians Embracing Free Music With Subscriptions For Support

from the improvisational-business-modeling dept

mrharrysan sends over the news of musician John Wood who is experimenting with giving away free music, while setting up a subscription to support him, as he creates a new album every month. It's not just a new album, but a pretty cool website called Learning Music Monthly which includes some cool artwork as well (and, hey, the music's pretty good too).

Wood isn't yet making a living from this effort (though, I imagine an Associated Press article won't hurt), but it's cool to see another artist build on some of the ideas we've seen from others -- like Jonathan Coulton's song-a-week project, or Olafur Arnalds song-a-day for a week project -- and then build a subscription offer on top of it, similar to what Matthew Ebel has done with his subscription offering. Basically, what we're seeing is a lot of very creative people experimenting -- not by all doing the same thing, but by trying different things, sometimes inspired by others, sometimes arrived at independently, but all doing something cool.

In many ways, all of this business model experimentation is similar to the kind of experimentation these musicians do in the music itself. That is, they take ideas they have themselves, combine it with ideas inspired from others, and come out with something wholly unique and creative, which best matches with their own community. It's improvisational business modeling.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    Dave, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 4:04am

    Isn't this the model that spurred the Renaissance?

    Isn't this how artists made money during the Renaissance? Find sponsors to finance you and then give your work to the public. It worked for Michelangelo...

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 4:28am

    why not just sell the music?

     

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  3.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 24th, 2010 @ 4:39am

    Re:

    why not just sell the music?


    Because not enough people are buying. It's like asking the question "why not just sell horse buggies" when people are buying cars.

     

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  4.  
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    nunya_bidness, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 4:59am

    Re: Re:

    This guys music is not my cup of tea, but out of curiosity is there anything on his web site you would pay for?

     

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  5.  
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    Josef, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 5:45am

    Re: Duh

    The artist sells the concert tickets for revenue.

    Or... he gets a recording contract with a record label and they do all the marketing and PR and produce a record and sell it and the artist gets little to nothing in the way of revenue from that, but does get valuable exposure that makes people want to see him and so.....

    The artist sells the concert tickets for revenue.

     

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  6.  
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    JustMe (profile), Mar 24th, 2010 @ 5:51am

    Re: Would I pay?

    I'm an intermediate-level musician who is still new enough to be experimenting with different styles. I'd drop $0.25 or $0.50 each for sheet music with tabs for his songs, if he had an easy micropayment system. I'd probably pay about the same for each MP3 that I wanted to learn. It is only fair to compensate him. Say, $0.75 per song for sheet music + a MP3, but no more than $1.00 for the pair considering I can buy an entire book of songs + a CD at the guitar store. Sure, he isn't going to get rich off of me, but it is an extra few bucks every few months.


    PayPal I suppose, ugh, but what's the solution?

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 6:59am

    Re: Re: Duh

    wait. susan boyle is getting her first check for her album. 6 million pounds. yeah she is making nothing as an artist covering other peoples music and selling records.

     

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  8.  
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    Rob.Etler (profile), Mar 24th, 2010 @ 12:24pm

    Glad to see Radiohead inspired some good in the world.

     

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  9.  
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    Will Kriski, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 1:37pm

    I use subscription model

    I've went a different way as well. My songs are free but I teach guitar via a subscription model (membership site) for 'access' to a variety of courses. I give away lots of free stuff and find good lessons even from others (not worried about competition but helping my fans). If anyone wants I can help you install your own membership site for free using Wordpress - http://membershipschool.com/2010/get-a-membership-site-installed-for-free/

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 5:47pm

    Wood isn't yet making a living from this effort...


    ...Is the point where I stopped reading.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 5:49pm

    Re: I use subscription model

    I've went a different way as well. My songs are free but I teach guitar via a subscription model (membership site)


    WALLED GARDEN ALERT! DINOSAUR ALERT!

     

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  12.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 24th, 2010 @ 5:55pm

    Re:

    ...Is the point where I stopped reading.


    Ah, yes. That's why Google is a failure too, right? After all, it made no money the first four years of its existence.

    Please. Get real.

     

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  13.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 24th, 2010 @ 5:56pm

    Re: Re: I use subscription model

    WALLED GARDEN ALERT! DINOSAUR ALERT!


    You can't be that clueless, can you? I mean, I know you work for the movie industry, but seriously. Making dumb statements just confirms that you have no idea what you're talking about.

    *Services* such as guitar lessons are different than straight content. You can get people to pay for ongoing services (future benefit, rather than cash for past creation). I've explained this to you, but you seem to have trouble grasping the concept.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 6:44pm

    Re: Re:

    I love how you continuously bring up the biggest corporate aggregator in the universe as if it has fuck-all to do with the financial viability of independent content creation in the digital age.

    This was especially funny in the recent "Frost and Sullivan" article where the best example you could muster of someone making money using free online video was...youtube.

    Truly hilarious.

    Until all this potential you see everywhere actually pans out in reality, your web 2.0 snake oil rhetoric will continue taste suspiciously of tap water...

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 7:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Duh

    Can you cover other people's art and still be considered an artist? She sounds like a audial tracer.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2010 @ 7:20pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    And an adherence to 20th century business practices is getting artists, what, exactly?

    Less money? Less control? Wow! A 360 deal! What a steal!

     

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  17.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 24th, 2010 @ 7:57pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I love how you continuously bring up the biggest corporate aggregator in the universe as if it has fuck-all to do with the financial viability of independent content creation in the digital age.

    I used them solely to point out how ridiculously stupid you looked in claiming that you don't care about anyone not making money now.

    I find it quite amusing that you had no actual response to that point, highlighting that you know you're acting like a fool.

    This was especially funny in the recent "Frost and Sullivan" article where the best example you could muster of someone making money using free online video was...youtube.

    Uh, no. Dan's article claimed that YouTube couldn't make money, and so I pointed out that they could. It's hardly the "only" example -- but I was responding to his claims.

    Truly hilarious.

    Only if you are reading deficient.

    Until all this potential you see everywhere actually pans out in reality, your web 2.0 snake oil rhetoric will continue taste suspiciously of tap water...

    Yes, and until then we'll wait and watch as you and your friends whine and whine and whine about how the world is ending as we watch people making more and more money. Fun stuff. Good luck going down with the ship.

     

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  18.  
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    Reena Verma, Mar 25th, 2010 @ 4:19am

    Reena verma

    music music music music music music music music music music music music music music music music

     

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  19.  
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    Benjamin Wade Inman, Mar 25th, 2010 @ 5:46pm

    Entrepreneurial Spirits

    It's great to see people being innovative. We encourage all artists we work with to be innovative and try new things. I think it's a great idea for an artist that's trying to get his/her music into as many hands as possible, to give their music away in the beginning. For the more established acts we work with, we are not sold on that idea for them. At least not now.

    We will continue to encourage innovation from each client we serve and if a major artist wanted to give their music away, we would stand behind their decision to do so.

    Keep innovating!!

    Regards,

    Benjamin Wade Inman
    Managing Partner
    ZONG Music Partners LLC
    Nashville, TN

    http://www.twitter.com/zongmp
    http://www.myspace.com/zongmp

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    John Kramer, Nov 7th, 2010 @ 7:39am

    Sean T Wright Was The First Album A Month Guy

    Great article on free monthly music. Well done John Wood and friends! But this is not a new idea! Sean T Wright www.seantwright.com started writing, recording and releasing an album every month back in April 2007 - 43 months later, he's still going strong, and has had almost 1 million downloads!!!

     

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