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
    Listening Intently, 17 Apr 2009 @ 9:32am

    Re: Re: ok smartguy

    Indeed you did.

    Most of the widely popular music available (in traditional formats & for sale) that you hear on the radio is utter rubbish (IMHO). The artists are either engineered (boy bands) or no-talent development projects of the record label (examples too numerous to mention).

    The reason that so-called "piracy" hurts the industry's business is because the practice of engineering a band or investing heavily in production to make a worthless artist sound good for the radio is extremely expensive, but deemed worthwhile because they have been able to make it profitable for so long.

    In addition, there is the fact that most artists (content creators) are not lucky enough to have any creative license or latitude in their contracts with said record labels, make little or no money from album sales, often must pay for touring and promotion out of their profits from all of these activities, and when all is said and done, retain no rights to the music that they have written.

    A lot of worthwhile artists love the sharing model precisely because it bypasses all of these common complaints; distribution becomes virtually free, and they are able to create the music that they want and develop a fanbase on the same. This then allows them to profit in ways only associated to the music itself (touring, branded items like apparel, etc.) while their creation is itself offered to consumers free of charge.

    What is the end result? 1) Most of the mass-marketed content that I download I subsequently delete, as I don't even tolerate the "cost" of the hard drive usage, and 2) I have uploaded content for several real musicians so they can build their own following and become successful outside of the traditional business model.

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