Pearl Jam Shows How Giving Away Music Can Help Sales
from the yet-again dept
Over and over again, people have tried to explain to the recording industry that there are plenty of good business models that embrace file sharing. The industry, however, despite the evidence, continues to insist that if you give away your music for free, there simply are no business models, and music will cease to exist. Pearl Jam became an early supporter of embracing the internet, and found it to work well. Their latest efforts should drive home that point. Austin Fatheree wrote in, noting: “I received my iTunes “new Music Tuesday” email today and Pearl Jam’s new single “World Wide Suicide” was the #1 album. This was interesting to me because I had downloaded the single for free (as a 256kb/s DRM free mp3) from Pearl Jam’s official site two weeks ago. The “album” on iTunes is $.99 and includes a b-Side that will be on their album that will be released May 2nd. They also are pre-selling their album on their website. $14.00 plus shipping and handling you get the CD, a bonus CD of a rare live show from 1993, and the ability to download the album at Midnight May 2nd as a DRM free CD. For all the complaining the RIAA does it looks like there is another, another, another, another way then treating your customers like criminals.” Indeed, this is interesting for a variety of reasons. First, it shows that even if you give away the music for free, there are opportunities to sell it — and people may still buy it. Second, the rest of the deal for the album shows exactly what so many people have claimed for years: bundling other items and benefits with the “album” makes it a worthwhile buy.
Of course, some will respond that Pearl Jam can do this because they’re “Pearl Jam” — a big name with a huge following. However, we’ve also seen less well known artists succeed using similar strategies. Also, we’ve seen brand new bands, like the Arctic Monkeys, become huge success stories by embracing the internet early on to build up the kind of fame that would allow them to do something like Pearl Jam has now done. In other words, the two (conflicting) arguments we hear against the idea that bands can make money by embracing music sharing (1. big bands would never do it because it cuts into their money making machine and 2. it would never work for new bands) don’t seem to hold. Meanwhile, the RIAA and their counterparts around the world continue to insist that file sharing is destroying their business.