Posted by admin on 2009 May 9

Can artists who give away their music for free ever “make it”?

I found these very interesting blog articles from marketing Guru Seth Godin and arguing against the idea that starting artists / entrepreneurs should give their product / music away just to be heard among a sea of competitors, and the fact that the idea of giving things away for free has been overdone and it doesn’t have the same effect it used to have.
I think this is true, but there is a catch.
For example: there are quite a few electronica netlabels giving away hundreds of free albums nobody seems to care about, because.. their music is FREE.. so it probably isn’t worth much, right?
Well, this is not always the case, some of the music on a few netlabels is very good, sometimes even better than some of the stuff released on “real” labels. The problem is that netlabels do not have any money to promote artists, mail CDs, create videos, etc, so most people will never hear of these artists.
Let’s face it, “real” labels don’t need to go out and find artists.. they don’t even have enough time to listen to all the demos they receive!
Most labels don’t even accept demos anymore!
why should they waste their time to hunt down music that is being given away for free?

The catch is this: sometimes, there are artists whose quality of music is so good, that they are able to make the jump from “free” netlabel to real indie labels: Case in point: Electronica Artist WISP who went from releasing free music on netlabels, to releasing music on the Sublight label and now is signed to WARP.
And while WISP’s example may be one in a million, it shows that anything is possible when you have talent and love for what you do.

The picture below is from Wisp’s first WARP EP Release, Katabatic.
Wisp_Katabatic EP.jpg

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One Response to “Can artists who give away their music for free ever “make it”?”

  1. Georgios says:

    The idea that Free is sometimes a stigma and a barrier to adoption can be confirmed by this blog article from Techdirt:

    Free is sometimes a barrier to adoption. That is, all three often found themselves needing to explain and educate their customers or communities why they were offering things for free, because many people who come from a world of scarcity rather than abundance intrinsically distrust free. They assume there’s a catch or that the service is somehow of lesser quality. This is an interesting point that deserves more exploration — though, a part of me wonders if it’s really generational and will fade over time.”

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