Why give music away for free?


I had an email from a musician today who said he was struggling a little with the idea of giving away mp3s. It’s a really common issue, and so I thought I’d share my response.

1) You’re not giving away music, you’re giving away RECORDINGS of your music;
2) Don’t try to make money from your music, make money BECAUSE of your music;
3) Economics works differently for bits than it does for atoms.


Newest Music Strategies

New Music Strategies will be different in 2008. Here’s what we have to look forward to.

There’s been a constant thread running through New Music Strategies in 2007. You probably haven’t noticed it, but it’s been there all along. It has to do with my reluctance to predict the future, and talk about what the industry will be like. You’ll notice that I’ve avoided that, pretty much at all costs.

As a result, much of what I’ve discussed to date has been descriptive and reactive. Here’s what’s going on, here’s a way of thinking about that, here’s a strategy to deal with or maximise the possibilities inherent in the current environment — and so on.

In fact, the whole idea of this blog, the e-book and the seminars and workshops I’ve been presenting has been to understand the contemporary music environment as it is, rather than preparing for some hypothetical future that awaits us just around the corner.

New year, new approach.

No, I’m not going to start writing science fiction, engaging in crystal ball gazing and imagining the way things are going to be. I’m not going to start making wild claims about some new business model that will fix or change everything. That’s not what I do.

But there was a point to getting our heads around the contemporary music environment. It wasn’t just out of interest. It was Phase One.

The future is not something that’s going to happen to us — it’s something we can make happen. Now that we understand the new music environment, it’s time to take control and start shaping it.

This is Phase Two.

You heard me. In 2007, we learned about the new music business environment. In 2008, we claim it, take the reins and start driving it in a direction that suits us. It’s a direction that’s good for consumers, good for artists, good for entrepreneurs and good for music. It uses the new technologies, but it is not subject to them.

Technologies are tools, not rules. We decide how and when to use them. They don’t decide what happens to us. Best of all, we can get new ones made as and when we think of them. To our specifications.

In a couple of days, I’ll be writing the New Music Strategies New Years Resolution. It’s something that with your help, I want to fashion into a new Manifesto.

We’re taking 2008. It’s our year. There are going to be some pretty radical changes — to this blog, to my role, to the online music environment.

But this time, we’re driving the bus.