Here is a scenario to think about.
Madonna releases her latest album and 2 million people go online to their favourite bit torrent or P2P program to look for a free copy. The Record label is up in arms at the lost revenue, piracy is killing the music industry etc etc etc.
What the record label is forgetting is that in fact these 2 million people will effectively review the album and tell 2 to 3 people each about it (probably more), post comments about it online, play it to their friends and advertise the product for free.
If even half of the people they tell buy a legitimate copy, based on each person telling 2 people about it they would recoup every single free copy that was downloaded.
Would you say no to so many people wanting and talking about your music? Established stars have a pull because everyone knows about them and there is an existing market demand for their music and people are out there actively looking for it.
That’s why the independent artist has to utilise their muscle power with a push mentality. Their single goal should be to push their music out to as many places as they are able to within their control and budgets. That’s also why independent artists need to focus on promotion above all else.
You would guarantee to get more people accessing your music if you gave it away for free, but hey that defies logic, hurts sales, and you’re not making that many sales right now so you can’t bear to give your music away for free right?
Independent dance music act ‘Kandystand’ released their first single ‘Everybody’ from their debut album, and couldn’t understand why sales were slow.
After a few months they decided that maybe their fans just didn’t take to the song, so started work on a new track that might do better. Because of this they took the decision not to look for revenue from ‘Everybody’ and promptly made all the mixes of the song available as free downloads on Reverbnation.
Within weeks the track had been downloaded thousands of times, appeared on P2P networks, bit torrent sites , all the usual russian MP3 services…What happened then was amazing.
Their fan list grew every day, their CDBaby sales grew at an amazing rate, their online sales shot through the roof, and they started getting money every single month from online sales of ‘Everybody’ and their debut album. The people that bought ‘Everybody’ also checked out their album whilst they were online and around 50% of them bought a copy of the album too…
So it’s time to take a tip from the major labels uproar on piracy and think again…Revisit the scenario with the Madonna album again, turn it on its head and apply it to your music.
Your band releases a track, puts it on iTunes, CDBaby, Feiyr, Tunecore etc etc etc. and publishes links to buy the track on their website. Your band immediately gives the track away for free on every available source including bit torrent and P2P EXCEPT your website where it is for sale.
Your band runs a competition on your website that gives away a bundle of your tracks for free every month to 1 lucky fan drawn from all the website fan sign ups that month. Your band gives the track to every available online blog and asks them to make it available for download in its entirety at full quality.
What happens here is that you are advertising your track where music buyers are congregating. Now lets do the math:
Assume 1000 people a month download your track for free. They come to your website to find out more about you, sign up as one of your fans and tell 1 other person about your music.
That person also visits your site and signs up as a fan. That’s 2000 people that know about you now and are on your mailing list ready to receive info about every future track you release and gig you play.
Lets be conservative and say only 25% of the people the original downloader tells buy one of your tracks legitimately from an online store.
That’s 250 sales a month, at a rate of 50 cents from your online distributor that’s 500 bucks a month.
Are you making $500 a month from your music? If not you’d better use the major label’s secret ‘piracy is bad’ marketing trick, and get it on the net for free as soon as possible.
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