Home > Main, Music Rant > Poll: Embrace Free Music – Do or Don’t!
  1. March 28, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    I am on the fence on this one. Oh the one hand I can see how this ethereal medium should be spread freely into the world. Unlike tangible art[painting, sculpture, etc.] music is completely abstract, merely sound waves activating our ear mechanics then to the brain. This in effect, makes it a free thing. On the other hand, however, it is hard work making musical compositions. I am not talking about the rips, I mean those of us who still create musical compositions. It is one thing to take bits and pieces of work from others and then just piece them together into an “original” piece. It is another entirely to start from nothing and come up with the actual music. Would you expect an Architect, or Designer to give away their designs for free? I mean the creation of something from nothing is hard work and should at least have some sort of compensation. I have to keep asking myself, would I take hours of my time to create something and then just give it away, or let someone else make money off of my hard work and creativity. I think there is a way to do both, but let the artist decide and respect that decision. Free downloading is so prevalent now that it would be hard to curtail, so it is kind of a moot point, but I think it is important to respect the efforts of artists, not simply take advantage of their work.

    • March 29, 2010 at 11:09 am

      Absolutely agree on many of your points. Although in reality, original music – very rarely gets its maker money, fame and recognition. Mostly it’s a commercial music, rip off and copies of other songs (backed by marketing money of record labels) that gets the attention of the public. Obviously, it’s not a secret that current trends in music – are under severe control and management of record labels. Many of my quite talented friends with very original and impressive music, have been told to “make some changes in their music so that it can target wider audience for commercial purposes”. (I wonder, what would have been like if back in a day – someone from some record label would tell Vivaldi for instance to “make his music more dance floor friendly and less so epic”).

      Of course, record labels are in it to make $$$ and not out of “good heart”. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but commercial approach to music somewhat kills the creative expressionism of many musicians.

      So in my personal opinion: musicians, producers following a niche music styles and directions, need to invent new ways to attract the attention of the public that’s been heavily worked on by highly competitive “music industry machine”.

  2. March 30, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Qwayzee, Nice point with the Vivaldi reference. It makes you wonder just how different music was back when there was no way to preserve a performance. Music could only be experienced by being present when it was performed. I must admit I am a bit romantic about that time. It seemed, and maybe it is just my romantic notion, that music had more clout. Know what I mean? A musical performance was an event, not just an mp3 that you put into your ipod. And as it becomes easier and easier to produce and get into the digital highway, what effect does it have on the substance of music? Is a composition more or less valid if it is easier to disperse? Does free mean higher or lower value, and I don’t necessarily mean monetary value, I mean creative value. When bands like RadioHead release their work for free, or for whatever their fans think is “fair”, how does that effect the not so famous artists who may have great music, but no fan base?

  3. March 31, 2010 at 10:43 am

    “how does that effect the not so famous artists who may have great music, but no fan base?”

    That’s a million dollar question. 😉 Isn’t it?
    Indeed, modern technology trends do allow unknown musicians to easily promote their music through various online distribution services and let artists sell their music on iTunes, Amazon, Beatport and other mp3 online stores. However, as you said it, if before musical performance was an event, today’s music market is so over-saturated that people care less and less. People, as a target audience, mostly will and do choose music promoted through proven channels (radio, tv, print etc – anything that has a solid backing from record label) as opposed to some garage artists posting codes to their Beatport store on other artists’ pages on MySpace. Marketing option such as promoting through the user content over the internet, can and most of the time is regarded as a spam, and may have an opposite effect than artists may initially hope for.

    I’ll speak from my personal experience. I am not a marketing specialist, just a person who enjoys locking himself up in the studio for hours and at times for days and recording some tunes. If i were to invest my time and energy on marketing or promoting my tunes, than it’s going to take all my time leaving me without a time for music production.

    I have heavily invested into this addiction of mine (hardware, software); and no Beatport, or Amazon, or iTunes or all combined, will ever sell enough of my tracks to make up for it. This I knew from the beginning and had made my peace with it. To me, the process of creating something out of noting is far more valuable than few bucks that I may or may not get for selling it. So if I were to decide to share my creation with the world (for free) – at least, that way I can get it out-there, get it heard, maybe even appreciated and recognized for what it is. This I can live with 😉

    P.S> moullineaux, thanks for keeping this discussion very interesting.

  4. Moullineaux
    April 12, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    Q. I see your point and I too have sunk more money into my studio than I could ever recoup with sales. But as you say, that is not really the point. I can obviously see the benefit of giving tracks away, they are free, and who doesn’t want free music? But if artists and I am not talking about the Radio Head level bands, cintinue to just give away music in order to get it out there, they are, in essence, putting themselves beneath the big guns who have the backing of record companies and don’t have to give their work away. Something to consider.
    In addition, I am curious as to why radio hasn’t picked up on this untapped independent music resource. Granted, there is a lot of crap out there, but why hasn’t someone with a small radio station picked up on this. Imagine, if you could tune in a station that never played the same song more that once a day. And if listeners requested songs over and over, the owner could pick one hour a day to play the “popular” songs. I know, romantic idea, but it would be nice. I don’t mean pay radio [xm sirius] I mean the original radio.

  5. April 14, 2010 at 11:52 am

    I think we can agree on few key points then:

    Artists – who invest heavily into their production (time & money), stand a huge risk of running non-profitable enterprise, unless of course some level of exposure is gained (popularity, recognition) and, in addition – revenue channels are kept open (record contracts or self-managed sale distribution).

    Many of electronic music artists will confirm that sales from their production is miserable compared to booking fees they get from live performances (this depends on artist’s popularity). However many of the artists that follow niche music styles, do benefit more, strictly from sales rather than gigs. For instance, a signed industrial power noise band (won’t mention its name), which has sold somewhere between 5 to 10 thousand records worldwide, had less than 20 people at their gig that I attended in Miami few years ago.

    Another key point we can agree on is that: the key element is not distribution, but exposure. Exposure, even though it can equally result in a negative or positive feedback, is essential to build popularity, recognition and public demand. And once public demand is present, distribution becomes essential. Obviously, this isn’t the case with Radioheads, since they already have all elements present: popularity, demand, distribution. And their little marketing stunt resembled nothing more than band acknowledging the reality and extracting the most benefits out of it: those who would steal the album anyway – got it for free legally, and those who’d pay for it – paid, and many who had no interest in their album – got seduced by the effects of “FREE”. So in essence, that which is True for the success of the every record release – The Quality of the Album – didn’t even matter at all. In terms of revenue, the band gained more from their act of “generosity”: Tremendous Exposure (even amongst non-fans) and Positive Feedback (regardless of the quality of their album).

    As for radio: that’s a superb idea, although i doubt any radio station would go for it… They get way too sweater endorsements from labels and advertisers. Unfortunately.

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