1. People will share your music with one another.
Most people who download music for free don’t think of themselves as thieves, they don’t think of themselves as pirates, they just want to listen to your music. So, just for a moment, don’t think of file sharing as stealing and let’s see what can happen. The whole goal in the music industry is to get as many people as possible to listen to your music for the purposes of making money. When people share music with one another, they are doing that musician a favor by increasing that bands listener base. It is hard to think of file sharing as a benefit to musicians since most musicians [influenced by the history of The Industry] see their music as a product to be sold in album form. If people are sharing your music with one another for free, how can a musician make money? Seperate the product from the content and new ways to make a living from being a musician can easily emerge.
2. Music is not the product anymore, it is the content.
The dilemma of keeping music profitable becomes a lot easier to solve when you think of music as content and not as a product – we used to buy CDs, for example, because it was a product that contained pleasing sounds. Now that we have separated the content from the product, we no longer need the physical format to hear the pleasing sounds; music now only exists as content. Many different kinds of media have used content to make money; TV has used free content to make money since the 1940’s.
3. Be the provider of your own content.
There are hundreds of torrent download sites and MP3 leak blogs making a fortune from providing free content. They advertise to the thousands of people who visit their sites. They get thousands of people to visit by providing free content… content created by other people. This is money that should be going directly into a musicians pocketbook. Musicians should be less angry that there are people hearing their songs for free and more angry that the web traffic is going to a torrent site instead of their own web site. The best way to capture those advertising pennies is to directly compete by providing your own content for free; if someone has two options, sift through a sea of unscrupulous torrent sites for your new single, or download it directly from the artist for free, the customer will download the content from your web site every time. The internet itself, and the monetizing revolution proves that almost everything can be ad supported.
4. Bands and solo artists are many times more important than the products they sell.
Many musicians and record labels will cringe at the thought of giving away music for free, but it cannot be avoided, anymore than current trends can be ignored. The fact is that these days, very few musicians make a living from selling music alone; most make their money from live performances and associated merchandise. Your product has become a flyer for your content. We’re always hearing that The Industry has changed. That’s not quite true. In fact, it’s changing – and that’s quite a different thing. Hopefully, it will never stop changing and it’s up to us as individuals to make decisions as consumers and creatives that influence the direction these changes take. If you give it away for free, nobody can steal it. Being a full-time musician is a full-time job and the hours are long. It’s a choice, and it’s up to us.