Remember going into town – on the bus – to go to HMV to buy the latest record? Or, if you were modern, the latest CD? It just doesn’t happen any more.
It started with Napster, and we’ve ended up with Spotify, Pandora, Deezer and the like – sustaining a music career by selling records is more challenging than ever before. It reached a point where Radiohead even released an album completely free of charge.
According to the statistics, 61% of online users don’t think they should have to pay for music. Many new and established artists like French DJ David Guetta believe that record labels should give fans free content to instead of wasting money on fighting internet piracy.
And while online piracy isn’t something we can directly influence, many artists are currently facing the question of whether free releases can reduce piracy. Here, at Radio Pluggers, we’ve decided to investigate this issue and we’ve gone through the pros and cons of ‘free’ music releases:
Why you should say ‘Yes’ to free music
- Get noticed – with so many artists debating whether publishing free music is good or not, one thing is for sure – allowing your fans to listen to your music at no cost is definitely a great way of receiving recognition and building band awareness. Imagine all those unlimited Spotify playlists and YouTube channels that contain hundreds of songs and music videos from both independent and well-established bands and artists that are getting played EVERY day. Tracks and videos that go viral do exactly that without anyone having paid for them.
- Effective promotion – with over 20 years of radio plugging experience under our belt, at Radio Pluggers we understand how valuable it is to connect your music to the right people. And here’s the secret – if music and radio professionals had to download or purchase your music, you’d never get traction. Uploading your tracks to free streaming services gets you quick, instant visibility in front of professionals and journalists, boosting your chances of getting airplay.
The cons of free music releases:
- Supporting online piracy? – There are some who argue that free releases only encourage online piracy. Does it encourage the ‘all music should be free’ mentality that results in digital rights theft? There’s a balance to be struck – how much do you want people to hear your music – and how do you want to protect your music?
- Financial perspective – before making the final decision on the next release, many musicians seem to be concerned whether a free music distribution will be a beneficial for them from a financial point of view. And they’re right – a free release can be viewed as a ‘jam tomorrow’ approach – no short-term return, but in the long-term, the greater visibility can give you greater leverage to ask people to pay for your music, or buy concert tickets.
So free music is here to stay – while Spotify pay artists peanuts and YouTube is free-to-all – a clever artist or band will use free music as a springboard to getting seen by more of the right people – future fans, yes, but crucially, the owners of radio stations around the world who will play your music to all of their listeners.
And if that sounds like a plan, sign up today to Radio Pluggers – we’ll get you in front of 24,000 people around the world who can get you on air.