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?
There 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.
Pros to 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 single
* 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 does not take someone who is very tech-savvy to be able to clip it anyway.
Cons to Allowing a Free Download:
* You are losing revenue for each free download
* You 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, or does 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 run.
©2009 Ken Cavalier All Rights Reserved Worldwide