How can musicians make use of ‘Free’ to build a music business?
Radiohead's experiment with 'In Rainbows' was a huge success. The band did a name-your-own-price experiment, and it worked. This only goes on to show that the 'Free' business model works, says Chris Anderson in his book, Free.
The record labels still accuse the 'Free' (or piracy) model but, that cannot be generalized to the music market. While the record industry is not growing, the music industry is still growing and virtually every other part of the music market, outside the labels, is growing, embracing the 'Free' model often.
The concert business is thriving since memorable experiences are the ultimate scarcity. Derek Webb of INO Records shares his experience as follows:
I've been able to filter that email list by zip codes to find out where my fans are and then email them to get them in the rooms. I sell shows out now. And sell a lot of merch. I have a career.
One aspect musicians can steal from the non-fiction books, and authors are how they make use of customizing their music/songs for a particular target audience. I believe, this is one idea not many musicians have exploited until now.
You can have the abundant, one-size-fits-all version of the author's ideas for free, but if you want those ideas tailored for your own company, industry conference, or investors meeting, you'll have to pay for the author's scarce time.
This varies from place to place depending on the socio-economic climate. Chinese musicians use piracy as a form of zero-cost marketing to promote their work to the largest possible audience. MicroMu, a music company, uses this strategy to attract gigs.
Music is a luxury for the middle class in China, a flippant expenditure. We simply use free music and media as a way of saying that 'everyone is welcome,' building a dialogue, building a community, becoming the trusted brand of the grassroots music movement in China. To do this, though, we have to become all things to all men: record label, online community, live events producers, merchandise sellers, TV production company.
Lastly, the author says despite all these changes there are still certain constants in the music industry.
In a world where the definition of the music industry is changing every day, the one constant is that music creates celebrity. There are worse problems than the challenge of turning fame into fortune.
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