Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Giving away music for free

This month will see McFly trying to expand their fanbase by giving away their latest album for free through The Mail on Sunday through which they expect their album to reach three million homes in the UK. We have already seen the likes of Prince giving away his album through the Mail as well as Radiohead offering their album in exchange for a donation on the internet but it now looks like pop acts are getting in on the act.

As the way in which we consume music changes the industry needs to change with it so I am always interested to see what new and innovative ways companies and music acts are using to distribute music. However I feel that when a handful of acts start giving their music away for free and doing it in a mainstream way it affects the whole music industry. If one act can afford to give away their music for free then the general public start to think they should be able to get music from other acts for free and not paying for music becomes an acceptable activity.

Another problem which occurs when music is given away for free is that music becomes worthless. Music instead of being a saleable product it just becomes a form of advertising and promotion for a band to sell merchandise and tickets to live events. By making music worthless it becomes harder for the smaller acts to make money. The bigger acts benefit from doing it as they run live events at big indoor venues and make a lot of money from merchandise but small acts who only tour small venues need the income that record sales provide.

There needs to be systems and services put in place which can give people access to music at a reasonable price without having a negative affect on smaller acts. With the credit crunch how it is it is right for the music industry to react in a way that makes music more affordable but it is just a shame that crunch will probably affect how much money is invested in to new acts. I think new unsigned acts have to capitalise on their ability to produce music and promote it on the cheap thanks to new tools on the internet as record companies no longer have big budgets to establish artists with. That’s the one advantage for unsigned acts is that their music is cheaper to produce than a signed artist so they can afford to give away heir music more cheaply.

The internet has revolutionised the way in which we buy, watch and listen to music, TV and films we just need to make sure that the way in which we are consuming media is fair to the artists and the production companies. For some time I feel the industries have been to kind to the artists and not kind enough to the consumer in the way things have been priced and profits made but we need to make sure we don’t go in completely the other direction where it becomes unfair to the people creating media. As for us to have good quality entertainment we have to have people making it who are fairly paid.

What do you think about bands offering their music for free with newspapers or online? Does it make you less likely to pay for other music? And you think it is a positive thing for the music industry? Let us know by joining in our topic of the week by going to:

Adam Sibley
Founder of the Talented Young People organisation
"Envisage it, Believe it, Achieve it!"

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