You may ask why I ask people to pay for my music when you may have also noticed that many artists give most if not all of their music away without charge.
A lot of artists give their music away free, in the hope that some big producer somewhere will hear it because it’s free and say
The truth is that it just won’t happen: All the artist or artists giving all their music away free will accomplish is aid in slowly killing the music industry, as well as putting the message out that their music is worthless.
Let’s look at it this way: Imagine that I – Sharron-Idol – am going to release my latest song (It’s a good song.). I’m going to present two scenarios here: –
1/ I give my song away free.
A few people listen to it – mainly family & friends, and they tell me that they love it and that I should be in the Top 40 with it… Yada yada… But it ends up just blending in with the vast amount of other free music out there – and a lot of what’s already out there is itself actually pretty good stuff. – But just like my free song it’ll all be forgotten by next week.
Result = I’ve made no money, a few people are entertained, I’m largely forgotten. Maybe a couple of close friends think I’m a star for a week or so; but in reality I’m an artist wasting her talent.
2/ I distribute my song in the proper manner and ask people to pay for it.
Again a number of people, possibly a few more than in the other scenario, listen to it, and a few of those buy it. – But since I’m not a household name like Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, or Madonna, and I’m unable to have or fund the type of promotional campaign that they would have, it doesn’t get out there enough and doesn’t chart. – So I’ve spent a couple hundred bucks producing it, and I’ve got a few bucks back… I’m still out-of-money, but at least I’ve made something. The good bit might come a little further down the line, though: –
The months pass by and suddenly one day I get news that I’ve made several hundred dollars because someone used my song on a popular YouTube video, and a few more people bought the single. Also an advertising company are interested in using it in a certain advertisment…
At the end of the day I might still only break even, despite all this, when the accounts are completed; but people heard my name and my music, despite it being only limited exposure, and I’m not out-of-pocket.
Why, then, do people give their music away free?
It’s usually either as I explained above, or it’s because they haven’t a clue about business and pricing. You see, when it comes to pricing, most people unfortunately err on the side of making the price as low as they can, even free, in an attempt to drive quantity-related sales. The problem with that is that it attracts people who have little commitment and aren’t very good as customers; always expecting the nearest to something-for-nothing possible, or indeed something-for-nothing.
The above can lead to resentment: People, your prospective customers, inherently have a sense of fair exchange; and when that sense of fair exchange is imbalanced by constantly giving away all your music for free, it can create a sense of guilt in the recipient. The recipient then seeks to offset their own guilt by bad-mouthing the source of the problem, which is, in this case, the artist or group which always supply their music for free. – You.
This is one of the reasons why you often find that lower-paying customers, or customers who aren’t really customers – because they never or rarely need to enter into a financial transaction to get the product – generate the most complaints and are never satisfied, even if the product was free. – It is a sad fact of human nature.
Asking people to purchase my product validates it, particularly if they buy it.
– whereas if I were to give it all away for free it would invalidate it by making it appear worthless.
A lot of time and effort goes into my music. The time and effort taken and the skills used in doing so are worth something. I wouldn’t be satisfied to just throw the result out there at a vast discount or totally free every time.
(OK I do create the odd freebie now and again; but those that I do create are free for a reason, and that reason is like bait: Like “Here’s what I can do… You can hear more and purchase X song at…” or “This is free if you’ll do that, or buy this, or join my emailing list…”. – In a nutshell it’s simple marketing tactics. – ‘Nothing new, same old…)
I need to feel that the price I’m charging is worth my time and effort utilised in to delivering it. – Otherwise I feel cheated, and I could end up resentful of my customers/fans not delivering my best as a result. ‘Remember what we just discussed about Human nature? – Well it works both ways.
Also anything less than my best efforts just isn’t good enough. My best efforts aren’t always perfection or the best out there I agree; the fact that I haven’t charted yet might be an indicator of that. – But the thing is I’m hopefully constantly improving as I constantly continue to give you my best efforts.
Does that mean, then, that since my music hasn’t charted it’s worth nothing and should be free?
Not at all. I have to pay to create it: From sitting down and creating a basic beat and lyrics, right through to submitting my music for distribution; It all costs money. – Even if I’m not actually paying anyone or paying out at a particular time. For instance if I’m writing lyrics: it only costs me the price of a biro and notepad to actually do the job itself… But there’s also heating or air-conditioning involved too. I have to eat and drink something. The studio equipment requires maintenance. The studio has to be cleaned from time to time… Etc.
It costs me. – That’s the reality. There’s no ‘Bank of Mum & Dad’ with me; I have to pay for everything, and rightly so too. To do so I have to make money from what I’m doing. <– That, or sell off everything, and exist temporarily on anything I get for doing so. – That would be a huge leap backwards and is definitely not happening if there is an alternative.
Unless I want to pay to go to work I have to sell my product. – But there is another reason I need to not just give everything away free:. My music is in the main totally original and it’s unique. It’s my product. If people don’t pay then they won’t value it; partly because they’ll think that no-one else values it since it’s all free, and – it’s true – partly because they might not even like it; but name me ONE single artist that everyone likes.
Do you like my music?
Have you heard my music? If not you might like to browse over to CD Baby or iTunes and check it out. If you like it perhaps you’d consider purchasing some or all of it? I would give it to you for free but it’s worth more than free and I don’t want to devalue it, or make an unfair exchange for that matter.
I’d also like to ask you to join my mailing list – so we stay in touch, and so that you’ll remember and visit this site again some day. – Oh and there IS in fact something free in it for you if you do so: Click here to find out about that.