Big And Small Artists Alike Benefiting From Free Music

from the a-reminder dept

We've pointed out in the past the fact that every time we point to a less-well-known musician successfully implementing a business model that involves free music, someone (inevitably) says "but that will never work for big name musicians." And, then, when we point to big name musicians successfully implementing such business models, someone (inevitably) says "well, that's fine for a big name musician, who can afford to give away music, but it will never work for less-well-known musicians." In fact, after seeing this happen over and over again, one of our commenters jokingly referred to this phenomenon as Masnick's Law.

However, a post by Jim Stogdill over at O'Reilly Radar, shows both well-known and less-well-known artists supporting free music in different ways. He talks about going to a Nine Inch Nails show, where Trent Reznor encourages his audience to "steal" his music, noting that Reznor has said in the past that if music is free, he'll keep making money touring. Then, afterwards in the parking lot, Stogdill was handed a home-burned CD of music from the band Cube Head, who was giving them out at the show to encourage more people to listen to them. There, in a single snapshot was both large and small artists recognizing they could benefit from free music -- though in slightly different ways.

However, Stogdill seems to imply that touring is the only business model for musicians these days, and I'd argue that's not true at all. In fact, Reznor has shown that there are plenty of other business models that don't rely on touring, but, instead focus on giving people a reason to buy -- by giving them something scarce that can't simply be pirated -- such as exclusive signed copies of box sets. And, again, less well known artists have figured this out as well, with musicians like Jill Sobule who put in place a business model that worked well, without relying on touring for all of the money (yes, touring is a part of the business model, but not all of it). The focus, again, is always on using the infinite nature of the music to attract more fans, and then getting them to buy a scarce good that is made more valuable by the music. That can work for any artist, small, medium or large -- and can allow them to make more profits since they often won't have to rely on quite so many middlemen.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2008 @ 3:55pm


    Mike, there are people who are really good creating music who can't tour, it might be physically impossible for them to tour or maybe they have social disorders that prevent them from performing live. In either case, lets assume someone can not tour and they are no good a marketing, so they need someone (like a record company) to handle that for them.

    what is your point? they need someone like that anyway. thankfully the modern age has enabled people who can do both to do marketing campaigns and CD recordings without breaking the bank, thus eliminating the nearly mandatory record company. also, while you and other people seem to focus on it, Mike has Never said that Touring was the only way a band can make money.

    You seem to argue that your "free music" distribution model is the ONLY model, and my argument is that it WILL NOT WORK FOR SOME PEOPLE. Ultimately, it should be the ARTIST who determines how his or her music is distributed, whether that is free CD, free downloads, pay to play, or CDs marketed at stores.

    no has he said they they shouldn't. he has put forward multiple model, spotlighted others, and slammed some. he openly supports Reznor's selling of the super deluxe limited edition of CDs. stop putting words in his mouth.

    Musicians should be allowed to market a desired product just like everyone else does with physical objects, and since it is their creation it should be their decision how it is distributed NOT some file sharers or pirate bay.

    and nor has he supported illegal copying of files. he has pointed out how bands can use services like torrents to make more money and hit the targets that are starting to torrent the music. Stop trying to set up strawmen that don't exist.

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