The Problem with Free – It can cost a lot!
There is a “free” trend in music that I find pretty alarming. No, I’m not talking about the fact that more and more artists are choosing to give away their music for free. For an indie artist, giving away music can be an excellent means to draw music fans into what they’re doing and get some attention. The trend I’m talking about is the “our services are completely free” trend. I guess it’s a general reaction to the big bad music industry who has been painted as bullies that steal all of the artist’s money leaving them with nothing(Much of that reputation deserved). Now that the the old system is falling apart, the pendulum seems to be swinging too far the other way. There is a growing sentiment that no one should get a cent from an artist’s music, not even the people facilitating their career. This view point is very short sided and only serves to damage the artist community over the long haul. Unfortunately, there are plenty of venture capitalist ready and willing to throw lots of money at the music community, hoping to strike it rich off of the next big idea. This seems to create short lived excitement, with no sustainability. Artists and musicians are seen as a group to be harvested with the art having no real value.
The successful music industry of the future is one that is community minded, where artists and industry professionals live together in a symbiotic relationship. There must be a balance, as both sides need each other. Both the artist, and the music professional should be interested in each others ongoing success and sustainability. As referenced in my previous post, there has been growing concern by the artistic community that music fans no longer see value in paying artists for their work. Artist’s should also consider the perspective of the people and companies that facilitate their career. There is value in the services they provide, therefore, an artist should make sure they are compensated fairly for what they do.
Without some sort financial benefit or stake in the artist’s success, there is no reason for a “free” company to work with the artist’s best interest in mind. Not only does this have an effect in obvious areas like customer service, but it also effects their ability and willingness to spend the time and money needed to work the best deals. Artists are simply reduced to a number that can be leveraged for some other purpose, which is how they’ll make their money eventually if they manage to stay in business!
I want companies I work with to be sustainable. Let’s face it, the music business is not charity work, it’s a business. Money must be made somewhere. People have jobs in order to make money, so it shouldn’t be taboo to mention the idea of making money when it comes to the music business. If a “free” company wants to keep their doors open, one of the following will most likely be true 1. They will change course and start charging 2. They will plaster ads everywhere and leverage user’s personal info for their gain 3. They will try to sell artists tons of other unnecessary items(The old bait and switch) 4. They will lose interest or just go out of business. It does not benefit the artistic community if all those who are passionate about music and are able to provide us with resources, throw their hands up in frustration feeling like their is no return on their investment.
I want to enter business relationships where there is no hidden agenda. Where the company does what they do best and I pay them their fair share. Don’t shop for professional services like you’re at Walmart! When looking into a business relationship concerning my music, the first thing I ask myself is, “Are they the best at what they do?” I put too much effort into my music to hand it over to the cheapest of the cheap. Am I crazy on this one? What do you think?