Wale: I Just Want To Make Music & Give It To Fans For Free… They'll Support Me

from the new-way dept

This is from a few weeks back, but I’m catching up on some older posts. We’ve been talking lately about how fans will support artists they like, and focusing on connecting with those fans by being open, human and awesome is a better strategy than freaking out about piracy.

There are lots of artists who recognize this basic formula. For example, hip hop star Wale was recently asked about things like SOPA, and he explained that he doesn’t get too involved in those things, but he just wants to make music and give it to his fans for free, knowing that they’ll support him when it comes time to buy:

I just know that I want to continue to make music and give it to the people for free and then if it’s good enough when it’s time for it to be sold they’ll go out and support it. I’m a fan of the mode that it is now…

Of course, he’s signed to Universal Music, which kinda limits his ability to give out his music for free. They don’t like that kind of thing. But it again raises questions about the claims of labels that they represent the best interests of artists. It seems like some artists have a better handle on what’s best for themselves…

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Comments on “Wale: I Just Want To Make Music & Give It To Fans For Free… They'll Support Me”

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bdhoro (profile) says:

Personal - the anti-label

This goes very well with what I just wrote about over at Step2. This guy should have his own website where he sells a few things like t-shirts or whatever it is a bumper sticker with a song lyric on it, where anyone of his fans can go and actually support him. We all know where to download the music for free (which he wants us to do) and some of us that do so would love to pay him, we just don’t have any opportunity (as from the sound of the article, the songs he wants you to download aren’t available for sale yet). If i went and downloaded the songs and liked them and wanted to support him, it sounds like my only option is to wait till Sony releases something and pay them, but I don’t want Sony to profit because I don’t think they deserve it – I want to pay the artist directly, but he can’t sell me the songs because Sony owns them.

Someone needs to solve this dilemma.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Negativland is a great example

When Negativland was sued by Island records over their U2 parody, they were driven into near-nonexistence. They no longer had the money to produce and distribute music (this was pre-modern-internet).

However, their fan base (including myself) wouldn’t stand for that, and rallied. The fans themselves raised the amount needed to produce another album and gave it to the band. (It’s called “Free”), saving them from actual dissolution.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:


Because some people don’t have the experience or have not learned from the experience of others to make a better decision. Sadly, there are a lot of people even today that think that the only way to succeed is to go through a gatekeeper such as label, publisher or studio. People are becoming wise to this issue, but not everyone has learned yet.

Anonymous Coward says:

“he’s signed to Universal Music, which kinda limits his ability to give out his music for free. “

Yes, it does – when you sell the rights to something to one group, you can’t also give it away for free without their permission.

Sort of obvious.

Perhaps he realized without a label deal, he would forever be “almost famous”

Anonymous Coward says:


yet he does anyway. Wale constantly releases freestyles and mixtapes from his twitter account, and to music blogs and UMG often promotes it. Then the RIAA comes in behind them and tries to shut it all down like the morons they are.

When Wale releases a free mixtape he’s able to do so with enough web presence to make it trend world wide. That’s better promotion that anything UMG can pay for. When he releases a song and puts it on youtube, his fans go pay for it in return.

The only ones who seem to be out of the loop is the RIAA and David Benjamin.

The Logician says:


Your emphasis on the need for fame, AC 10, overlooks the fact that fame is not a requirement for a creator to benefit from his creation. In fact, many times the pressures of fame drive individuals to destructive habits, as the lives of many major celebrities have clearly demonstrated. To be human, and to connect with those who appreciate your work, is a more desirable goal. Regarding fame, I submit this quotation from the film Krull, where the character Torquil comments on fame and how it often fails to bring us what we think we want:

“Fame? It’s an empty purse. Count it, go broke. Eat it, go hungry. Seek it, go mad.”

Anonymous Coward says:


“Your emphasis on the need for fame, AC 10, overlooks the fact that fame is not a requirement for a creator to benefit from his creation.”

Fame is the outcome of becoming well known. It’s the result of reaching more and more people, and to connect to them with your work. Being the best damn rapper in the world for 3 people isn’t as fulfilling as being the best damn rapper for many, and a pretty good rapper for a bunch more.

Fame is also another way of saying “has enough money / clout / exposure to do more things” which is exactly what any artist wants – the ability to do what they like.

I think most realize that being the best indie rapper or the best unknown freestylist isn’t quite where they need to be in order to be able to do this for a very, very long time.

Michael says:


Interesting quote from Ludwig Van Beethoven:

“There ought to be but one large art warehouse in the world, to which the artist could carry his art-works, and from which he could carry away whatever he needed. As it is, one must be half a tradesman.”

This is interesting. Beethoven envisioned a place where one could trade/exchange art as a “huge warehouse.” Today, we have it — it’s called the ‘internet’ — but unfortunately it’s under constant threat by hostile forces.

The Logician says:


Fame may have benefits, AC 16, but the direct pursuit of it often causes many negative side effects and leads to many unwise choices, such as signing with a major music label or working with a Hollywood movie studio. Instead, a creator should concentrate on being honest and human with his or her fans and treating them respectfully. From that a modest fame is likely to follow, since word of mouth is the most powerful form of advertising one can possess.

Michael Long (profile) says:

Personal - the anti-label

Just curious, but how many artists are you willing to support in this fashion? Five? Ten? Twenty? How many sites are you going to seek out in order to buy a t-shirt or make a donation? And how often?

Seriously. I mean, I can see someone being a rabid fan and avidly supporting their favorite singer or group or author. I can even see some enthusiasm for the next one down on the list. But the tenth? The twentieth?

I can think of maybe two or three authors I’d be willing to see in person. Once.

At least on Amazon or iTunes every artist whose music I buy gets a cut of the proceedings. Same for books.

But how many “fans” does Wale need to make even a modest living off of donations and t-shirts? And how long will that support last?

bdhoro (profile) says:

Personal - the anti-label

Ha, its as if I said “This is the only way any artist should try to make money.”

I’ll tell you this, I would have spent a hell of a lot more money on media if I could pay artists straight up.

And where are you coming up with the idea of a limit on how many sites I’d be willing to seek? All you need is to release something new and I’ll be at your site getting it and considering paying.

The question might as well be, how many albums would you buy? Five? Ten? The answer is: as many as I like.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:


No he isn’t.

He’ll be completely forgotten in a few years.

Yesterday you didn’t even know who he is?

You consistently demonstrate you have no clue about the difference between real music and fads.

How obnoxiously elitist of you. Trust me, the acts you work, those are fads. That’s why you’ve admitted that they had to get day jobs.

The music business itself is about fads. Some acts last, some don’t, but it’s pretty obnoxious for you to complete dismiss a star because you don’t happen to like his music.

Whether or not Wale is a fad and whether or not he’s gone from the scene in a few years, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s a star today and what he says matters.

You? Who the fuck are you? Some nobody who works with failed bands and then blames those of us giving you better advice.

You’re a has been, mocking the up and comers. Nothing sadder than that.

Anonymous Coward says:


Actually if you look at his history, he’s signed to a boutique label that is ran by another artist. It’s under the UMG umbrella, so while essentially it’s UMG at the top of the food chain Wale (pronounced wall-ay) signed to Maybach Music Group.

Not that it makes much of a difference, but MMG (headed by Rick Ross) uses the internet quite extensively to release free music, especially to “rogue” sites.. MMG even thanks seized domains on their official label released album credits.

Crazy huh.

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