How One 'No Name' Musician Used Free Music To Build A Following

from the funny-how-that-works dept

We've joked in the past about how people always look for ways to make "exceptions" rather than "rules" out of every example we use to show how adopting business models around the economics we discuss works well. So, if we show a big name band being successful, we're told it only works for big bands. If we show a less well known name doing well, we're told that it only works for no names, but that it could never work for big names. Someone in our comments jokingly referred to this "exceptionalism" as "Masnick's Law." Hell, in a post that once described both big name bands and no names being successful, someone in the comments complained that it might work for big names, and it might work for no names... but it couldn't possibly work for the vast majority of musicians in the middle.

So, the best we can do is continue to show examples of how it works... for musicians of all "sizes" and levels of fame. One of Techdirt's longtime readers, and a well known "social media guru," Adam Singer, sent in a very personal example: himself. It turns out that, on the side, he's been something of a hobbyist musician. After years of trying to sell his music from various sites and getting nowhere, he went free and found an entirely different experience. He chose a Creative Commons license for his music, and it was like "magic." Because people could easily pass around and share his music, suddenly he had a following. Many more people heard his music, even to the point of people creating a profile page for his music on, his music showing up on popular music blogs and internet radio programs -- and even people asking to commission him to write new music for them. To say that Adam is a convert would be an understatement.

Filed Under: adam singer, creative commons, masnick's law, music

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  1. identicon
    Your Gawd and Master, 20 Jan 2009 @ 7:26pm


    I call bullshit!! I'm wagering that you've never sat down and written a single song either and you're little more than a shill.

    Almost every musician I know wants free music AND have written many songs, AND give them out for free. And I know a lot of musicians thanks to some skills I have that they lack.

    Hell, back in the day before we could download music I toured with a band that was mostly local that made incredible money simply from touring around the state all the time. Five piece band, $1500/night and played 5 nights a week. That was $78,000 a year per member back over 10-15 years ago. It actually cost them money to put CD's on the shelves in stores.

    Or are you talking about someone who is utterly and completely unknown even in their own town?

    The ONLY people I will pay for music are the real exceptions like Andy Partridge of XTC who had simple stage fright then someone(I think his wife at the time) threw his nerve pills down a toilet right before a show and his anxiety got so bad that he's been phobic of stages ever since. That I can understand paying for since he never tours but Andy is wickedly wise and already has realized that he's gotta give his fans a bit more for them to buy the CD's and has done something about it. There are other exceptions but Andy's is always the first to come to mind.

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