Musicians are now told to give away their music for free. Might as well, right? Why charge for what so many people don’t want to pay for? Music has become a service, much thanks due to digital distribution models and websites such as YouTube or MySpace allowing customizable playlists. But how exactly does a musician earn a living then? This is a very large topic, and one that I will not explore exhaustively (at the moment), but something to think about nonetheless.
The music industry is currently in dire straights; fighting to stay current in the Web 2.0 age, fighting piracy of BitTorrent and P2P, fighting to make a profit on an album… fighting for control. Throughout my classes at IPR, numerous plans have been discussed for musicians making money on the web, though not yet fully realized. One of the constant ideas, however, is keeping focus on the desires of the fans. I say, yes! Give your music away for free – high-quality downloads available directly from your site, straight to the hard drive of your listeners. Require an e-mail address… get data on who listens to your music so you can better tailor your web presence. But get on-board with some digital distributors as well, you may be surprised at how many people still feel music should be purchased (it’s just not as many as it used to be). Get on iTunes, get on Amazon, get on Facebook, get connected, get exposed.
So… How do I make money? That’s the $64,000 question.
Strangly enough, in a world where anything digital has dozens (if not hundreds) of copies readily available on the internet, artists of all crafts are urged to create physical products. More than just merchandise (though it helps), musicians can create bundles – packaging merch with copies of a “limited edition” album, or maybe tickets… back-stage passes?
There are certainly more questions than answers found here, I apologize. I wish I had the answers, but we’re all still looking. You may find, however, it’s all a matter of asking the right questions, and when no answers are present, follow your gut. Whatever you do – stay in touch with your fans, because no matter what label you’re on, if you ditch your fans, they’ll ditch you… and without people to listen, without people who care about your art, what’s it all for?