The music industry business model has certainly changed over the past few years and now we have a lot of new artist’s finding success releasing musical albums.
When it comes to albums there exist a lot of misconceptions and ideas with regard to how they should be offered to fans. Most artist’s can’t figure out whether to give their albums out for free or not.
This post will dive into this topic in response to the frequently asked question:
“Should I release my album for free?”
Releasing an album for free can downgrade its value and consequently undermine the overall value of your music which is why it’s better to release shorter projects like EPs for free rather than albums.
You can every now and then give out a free song or two, but giving out a full album will just cheapen your work and people will nolonger attach the value you want them to attach to it which is really bad for business.
Why you shouldn’t give your album out for free
Now that we’ve established that giving out your musical albums for free is not good, let’s get into Why free albums are not the way to go.
Business wise, giving away your album for free would be like Apple giving out a bunch of new iPhones for free.
While it may win you a lot of buzz, in the long run it would be a bad business move especially if there’s no accountability what will happen after the free product is given out or how money for the expense is going to be recouped.
Making an album as an artist will cost money because you have to pay for its production, packaging and other things.
Therefore giving it out for free without a plan will result in incurring a loss.
Your album is your means of income
An album is not just something that is made for fun, you literally put your time and hardwork into it’s creation. It should therefore be treated as such.
As a musician your product is your music and it’s the very thing you sell In order to create an income for yourself.
Therefore giving it out for free is not only bad for business but also cheapens the only product you have to sell which is the music, so I don’t really advise people to put out free albums.
The Free Cycle Continues
People always resort to doing things like giving away free music in order to promote their brands and to some extent it does work when it’s done the right way.
If its done with no proper planning whatsoever, giving out free music devalues your entire music which leads to fans always opting to free downloading your music rather than buying it.
For you as the artist to maintain any sort of relevance you’ll have to keep on giving away free music which creates a very deadly cycle of freebies…..this is because cultivating an audience that is used to freebies makes it even harder for them to buy your music.
How to release music for free (THE RIGHT WAY)
Certainly your fans are always in the mood for the next freebie you’re willing to give but this should always inspire you to have an edge when giving away free stuff.
Therefore, this section of the post will give you some ideas of how you can go about giving out free releases.
There’s obviously the wrong way and the right way of going about free releases and most newbie musicians need to know the right way of doing things because freebies can create a problem for the artist that doesn’t execute them well.
With that said, let’s get into ways you can release your music for free, the right way.
EP instead full length album
I don’t think anyone that has been around the music industry long enough would advice you to give a full length project out for free.
There are better ways you can implement and use a free give away to your advantage.
Instead of giving out a full length album, give out an EP which is essentially a short album.
It can be a great teaser to give to your fans that can instantly add value to your full length effort.
The point is, don’t let having a lot of music full you into thinking you give simply give out a free album to your fans.
Have a plan in place that can serve you in the long run.
Use a short EP of less than 5 or 6 songs do the marketing for you so you can wet market appetite.
Which is good because your EP can promote your album for you without you having to do too much except give it out for free to your fans and announce to them that you have an album coming out.
Giving out free content the right way can be a good move on your part.
Like I’ve emphasized in the previous point, you really don’t have to give out a full length project. You can work with an EP.
You can offer up for your EP for free by giving your fans a landing page on which they can enter their name and email address.
This can give you a full list of your fans email addresses which can be very important because you can easily market a full length project directly to them.
An email List is a great way to collect the emails of the fans that can easily buy your full length project.
Another way a free release can help you is that it can help you collect the data of your fans.
Most distribution services like Soundrop send out the data of the people that stream your music.
This data includes the demographics of the people that stream your music, the streaming service, the type of stream, revenue etc.
These analytics can help you understand your audience better in order to serve them a good full length project.
With analytics you can target and tailor make your content with enough relevance making it easier for it to resonate with your audience.
Releasing an album from free with no plan for it to translate into an investment for your career should be avoided because it undermines the value of your music.
Described above are the right essential tactics that you can use to make your free release an investment that can further your career either by providing revenue or providing long term benefits to further your career.