Monday, October 01, 2007

charging for free music?

Just a quick question: would you still pay for a CD if the music was free to give away (e.g. covered by a Creative Commons Sampling License)?Sampling Plus iconWould the opportunity to show (financial) appreciation for the musicians’ labor, and to own a beautifully packaged (limited-edition) artifact, be enough to offset the fact that the audio content might be available at no charge (and you can copy and distribute it yourself)? Either way, I’m about to start a little experiment.

Normal blogging will resume shortly… and this time I mean it ;-)

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Its an interesting experiment, but of course ultimately impossible to quantify against any kind of benchmark.

One word of advice though - if I were you then I would release it as a double CD, with the second CD being a data CD which would contain high quality "approved" MP3s of the music which were all properly tagged and which had links back to the artists own site as part of the meta-data. If people are going to give away your music for free (which lets face it in our current day and age, they are **regardless** of whether or not you give them permission), then you might as well ensure that they give away Good Quality copies that contain some (innoffensive) advertising that help people find you if they want more of it.

There is a label that is doing this, but I forget their name. All of their releases are on multi-DVD disks which contain pre-mastered 24bit files, standard redbook, pre-tagged mp3s, sheet music in mp3 format and video footage of the recording session + high quality photographs. I'll send you a link as and when my brain dredges it up from my memory...

Alex

Jeff said...

I did a similar experiment. 128k mp3s for free, or pay $10 for the high quality audio and plastic. If your goal is to get people to hear your stuff, then from my experience it is a great idea. If your goal is to sell CDs , then it was less sucessful, but still it lost less money than pressing 1000 and sending out hundreds of review and radio copies...and more people heard it.

Anonymous said...

Radiohead Tells Fans To Name Their Own Price For Latest Album Downloads; Gives Them A Reason To Pay popped up in my feed reader this morning as well...

Alex

matt field said...

at the radiohead blog it seems that they have gotten a much larger demand for physical product than expected. so far its working for them but they are radiohead. i wonder how much that accounts and will account for what happens.

peter breslin said...

Hey- I'm old. I like the artifact. I would pay.

PB

Dave said...

I think human nature says...if there is a way to get something for free...you will take it. As for contributions? It would be like the 'here's a few cents' mentality when someone passes round a charity box!

the improvising guitarist said...

Alex, that’s a fantastic idea. How beautifully counter intuitive, but totally logical. I can’t (for logistical reasons) put out a double CD this time, but I may do that next. Maybe a workable compromise would be putting “high quality ‘approved’ MP3s” plus artwork on my website for free download….

Jeff, yes, I’d been following your experiments with interest. As I think you did, I want people to hear the music more than I want to sell CDs. My income (for what it’s worth) as a musician comes from performing rather than recording. I just need a few CDs to peddle after a performance, and, hopefully, spread interest in my work.

Dave, thankfully I don’t believe in human nature ;-) I am still interested in your response though: would you pay for a CD if the music was free to give away?

Anyway, Alex, Jeff, Matt, Peter, Dave, thanks for the comments.

tig

Jeremy Stewart said...

another way you could try it--an admittedly bold and perhaps over-optimistic way--is to up the ante with the artifact and go vinyl. Now there's an object that people who care about music are willing to shell out for. I mean, CDs are not competition, they're a different offer altogether. Have a look at the website for constellation records: http://www.cstrecords.com. They are a very successful Canadian indie label whose flagship band is post-rockers godspeed! you black emperor. They put out vinyl alongside their CDs, but the vinyl packaging is really glorious. I bought a record from them that actually had a penny squashed by a train inside the sleeve. That's pretty cool. So, can a record compete with an mp3? Not really... but in a way, it doesn't even have to.

the improvising guitarist said...

Jeremy, funny you should mention vinyl, another person just suggested it, and I did come across a company that did limited edition pressings (which, in its retro-auto-deprication, did tickle the fetishist in me)… but, if I’m to peddle these at gigs, it ain’t practical (I know, I know, that’s not really the point, but I’ve still gotta be able to carry these around in addition to the guitar, amp, etc.).
Nice idea though… thanks.

tig

Maria's Music said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maria's Music said...

There are many bands that I really want to support because I know they are not making very much money, and more importantly their music is great. It might be juvenile to think that the small amount of money buying that CD gives them will somehow help them.

There are also bands that I grudgingly pay the $15 for their CDs.

I think anybody who would be willing to sell there music for free would be "deserving" (for lack of a better word) of the money. I don't see the next Kelly Clarkson album being free to the public and she could arguably part with it. I have only seen this free music phenomenon come from artists who are lesser known (and making much less money).