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The music or the money

Music Monday: Should Music Be Free?

0 - Published November 7, 2011 by in Lifestyle
The music or the money

Oh, word?

Today’s Music Monday is going in a slightly different direction!  Instead of posting a bunch of banging tracks, we’re looking into the music industry a little bit deeper with the help of our friend, Dan Reilly, who is a contributor over at Spinner.com.  Reilly grew up on Long Island, went to Ward Melville HS (good lax there!) and then went on Trinity College in CT, where he regularly used to watch the Bantams lose to Wesleyan in lacrosse.

Dan and I were talking about pirated music, illegal downloads and how musicians can make a living in a day and age where hard copy album sales simply won’t pay all the bills.  It was interesting to talk about how online content and music possess a number of similarities, but that the two are still quite different…

The topic started off with me just thinking randomly about content, music, artist’s rights to make money off the music they produce, etc… and then emailing Dan.  His genius did the rest.

So much music today is bought, traded and illegally downloaded, that it’s sort of like news media in my eyes, in that one has to produce it initially to draw people to their band/site/group/whatever, but then making it into a sustainable business is a very different story.  The question seems to be, how is music different from online written content these days?  And can’t Music just be free already?

Check out Dan’s thoughts below:

There are certainly a lot of parallels, like how a lot of writing and music is accessible for free, but certain ways of using/sharing it are illegal.

And yeah, with news media, basically you can be the first one to break a story but somebody else might pick it up or focus on only one part of what you published, and that becomes the whole story, and they get all the hits.

It seems like most of the time, making money is all about building a following – websites need to get a strong audience without charging, just like bands need to do that by putting on good shows and maybe giving away some free songs.  Then, the next step is finding a way to make money off that following.  A lot of what goes on online is based on ad sale deals, so someone says they’ll deliver this many impressions of their ad and they then receive a certain amount of money.  With bands, it’s more like they get the audience and then make money by putting on shows or allowing a commercial to use their song.

Pretty similar in a lot of ways…

Very cool stuff, Dan!  Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!  It seems like there is a lot of risk involved for anyone putting out unique or original stuff, but that the best of the best also rises to the top.

It seems like the answer for Music is to make SOME of the stuff free, draw people in, and then keep them hooked with quality songs and concerts.

To illustrate Dan’s point, we’ve got a new artist that Mr. Reilly has been listening to a lot lately by the name of Pujol.  His song, Mayday, is available for free download over on Spinner.com!  Give out some free tracks, build up the audience, then Itunes and concert tours all the way to the bank.  Maybe I need to join a band in Brooklyn… guess I’d have to learn how to play an instrument first.

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