Old EMI Email Shows They Knew That Giving Away Songs For Free Leads To More Sales
from the well-look-at-that dept
We already wrote about the recent filing in the EMI v. MP3Tunes case, in which Michael Robertson shows that (contrary to EMI's statements to the court) EMI regularly promoted its music by giving out free MP3s. However, I wanted to do a separate post looking at one specific email highlighted in the filing. It shows an email from 2008 from Stephen Gullberg, an employee of EMI Publishing, talking about marketing plans involving giving away free MP3 downloads. I've bolded the parts that struck me as particularly interesting. Gullberg is emailing with a counterpart at EMI:
Free Promotional MP3 of one song to the public for free download from Peter Moréns album (as do most indie labels). They would offer "Social Competence" for free download on touchandgorecords.com, Peter and Touch and Go's Myspace pages, plus encourage as many third party online zines, podcasts, blogs, major web portals to host the MP3 for free download on their site. We are being told that historically the track which is offered for free like this is usually still the top selling track in digital retail. They would like to offer this promotional MP3 download for nine months. After that initially period the promotional partners will replace the MP3 download with a stream for the duration of the license of the album including offering a stream of the song on their website and on their Myspace page and Peter's Myspace page, or until they decide to ask these partners to remove the stream.And yet, all this time, the RIAA keeps insisting that free music is a problem? Even as employees at the labels knew years ago that free was "so effective" as a promotional technique that it helped sell the same track much more.
The label has given us a further explanation of why they pursue this strategy. One promotional MP3 per album is the best way they can virally promote the album which will increase sales and thus revenue on the compositional side as well as the master recording side. This promotional technique has proven to be so effective, that virtually every free track they have issued from an album has maintained itself as the top selling track from the album. It also enables them to offer something from the album to the myriad of sites, blogs, podcasts out there that would be tempted to give away unauthorized materials, perhaps the entire album, if they do not have the option to feature a track that they offer to them. This control mechanism is vital to their methods of slowing piracy of albums.