Band Recognizes Free, Unencumbered Downloads Are Part Of A Publicity Campaign

from the another-one dept

We’ve had plenty of stories recently about how, despite the rhetoric from the RIAA, plenty of actual musicians recognize that giving away their music for free is good for business. The latest is the band Harvey Danger, as submitted by Michael. The band has a nice explanation on its website, which highlights that the band members recognize that free, unencumbered downloads are simply a part of any promotional campaign:

“We’re not streaming, or offering 30-second song samples, or annoying you with digital rights management software; we’re putting up the whole record, for free, forever. Full stop. Please help yourself; if you like it, please share with friends.

Of course, the CD will also be for sale on the site, as well as in fine independent record stores across the country, in a deluxe package that includes a 30-minute bonus disc that serves as a companion piece to the record proper (retail price for the package is $11.99).

We embark on this experiment with both enthusiasm and curiosity — and, ok, maybe a twinge of anxiety. Why are we doing this? The short answer is simply that we want a lot of people to hear the record.

However, it’s important that people understand the free download concept isn’t a frivolous act. It’s a key part of our promotional campaign, along with radio and press promotion, live shows, and videos. It’s a bet that the resources of the Internet can make possible a new way for musicians to find their audience — and forge a meaningful artistic career built on support from cooperative, not adversarial, relationships.

We realize that digital files are the primary means by which a huge segment of the population is exposed to new music; we also believe that plenty of music lovers in the world will buy a record once they’ve heard it — whether via radio or computer.”

There are two interesting points here. First, the band members recognize that giving away music is part of a promotional campaign… but, more importantly, they recognize that it needs to be a promotional campaign for something else. In this case, the band has decided that it should be the actual CD — and to make it worthwhile, it’s including a special bonus CD. The band also clearly recognizes that not everyone who downloads will buy the CD, but that’s not the point. The point is to convince more people to buy the CD than would have otherwise. Of course, for a less well-known band, just doing this is something of a publicity stunt. The real change won’t happen until this becomes a standard operating procedure. Update: As a few people noted, this is an old decision by the band. As we noted in the post, it was submitted by a reader, and we (mistakenly) assumed it was new. Apologies for posting the old news.

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Comments on “Band Recognizes Free, Unencumbered Downloads Are Part Of A Publicity Campaign”

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LittleW0lf says:

Re: Buy The CD On Principle

I bought this CD from them last year, and bought two more for friends. It is an awesome CD, and the *only* reason I bought it was because I listened to the music beforehand, enjoyed what I heard and felt it was well worth the money they were asking for. The fact that the CD came with several stickets was a bonus. I turned around and bought every CD they had come out with and I am waiting for any music they sell in the future. They won me over as a fan because they sold me on their music by offering me a chance to find out that I liked them without having to buy their CD first.

Of course, a number of bands have done this, including MC Lars and Govt Mule. I don’t particularly like Rap or Hip Hop or Emo, but after listeining to MC Lars I bought his music. Publicity is the only way these bands are going to attract me to buy their music, and the only publicity available to me for the most part is eMusic and through friends (since I cannot stand commercial radio, except for the one independent radio station we have here in San Diego, and I don’t tend to look for new music in record stores.)

It is no wonder that of all the CDs I purchased last year, 99% of them were from independent record labels amd via eMusic or CDBaby or other sites.

Jason says:

from the 2005-wants-it-story-back dept

So, after a 1-minute review of the site, it appears that did this on September 20th, 2005 (yes, as in a year and a half ago). So, I am not exactly sure why this is news now, but since you guys at Techdirt brought it up, I think it would be more interesting for you to find out what the band’s thoughts are now after all this time. Their news states that in Oct ’06 they released a single with a few more new songs – no mention of any free downloads. That hints to me that it wasn’t as successful as they hoped. Lets dig a little here, and see what comes up, eh?

Vincent Clement (profile) says:

Writing is on the wall

I love the last paragraph:

This is by no means a manifesto. We don’t pretend to be the first band to spin a variation of the shareware distribution model. We love record labels and record stores. We buy lots of CDs and are committed to supporting independent music. We’re not a bunch of fake Marxists. We’re just trying to be smart capitalists so we can sustain our lives as musicians. This is an experiment. We’ll let you know how it goes.

This is exactly what the RIAA is afraid of: artists taking control of their content, their marketing, and their destiny.

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