As an independent artist trying to gain exposure for your
project, create some awareness and enthusiasm for your band, but
also trying to make a living with your music at the same time you
may wonder -- Is it is a good idea to provide a free download of one
of your songs online for fans and/or potential fans?
are a couple different patterns of thought on this throughout the
music industry. To some
it still remains a controversial issue, others may tell you it is a
no-brainer. Here is a
brief summary of the pros and cons to allowing at least one of your
songs from a full length or EP-CD, or a single to be downloaded
online for free.
Allowing a Free Download:
* You are giving your current
fan base a way to interact and spread the word about your music
You are offering a gift of appreciation to your current fans
You are providing an enticement for current fans and potential fans
to purchase the entire album once they have had a taste of your
* It can be a great promotional tool. You can get setup
with promotional postcards to give away at shows which have a
promotional code. The
fan is directed to a website where they punch in the code and get
their free download.
This way they really feel like they are getting something of
value for free.
Sure, you can always offer fully streaming music which
allows fans to listen to entire songs without downloading it to
their hard-drive or iPod, which will entice them but by giving them
a free download you are actually offering them more of a token of
appreciation and you are opening a lot of doors with new fans. Whether you know it or not,
no matter how encrypted or non-downloadable you think a track may
be, it doesn’t take someone who is just a little tech-savvy to be
able to clip it anyway.
Cons to Allowing a Free Download:
* You are losing revenue for each free download
are losing potential revenue for each person the original person who
downloaded your song shares the file with.
* That’s about the
only con ----
So you have to weigh the two to figure out if
it makes sense to offer a free song download. Obviously it does not make
sense to offer an entire record for free download. Kind of defeats the purpose
of trying to sell records, doesn’t it.
I believe the greater
majority of music industry labels, managers, and publicists, will
tell you that it probably can’t hurt to offer a free download once
in a while. You may
want to offer it on a limited basis in the course of initial
promotion so that you do not lose revenue on a consistent
basis. The choice is
ultimately yours of course – but again – once in a while should not
hurt sales and could potentially increase them in the long