The Nature Of Things...
I'm sitting here listening to Aleksi Virta's excellent jazzy-house-dub-lounge-you-name-it album "..Meets Torsti At The Space Lounge" and I'm wondering about the nature of things in the music business these days. I mean, this is a fine record, and any label worth its salt could sell it, and it certainly would be easy to license (my main area of expertise), so I'm wondering about the wisdom of just giving it away.
I'm sure Aleksi will chime in with his thoughts in this matter; by no means construe this as criticism. I'm genuinely curious as to what would make someone put their album up for free, as opposed to one of the many pay services. I can come up with a few reasons on my own, and here they are:
1. Information wants to be free! Make it so! I personally don't agree with this, as I feel it devalues your initial output; the customer doesn't place any intrinsic value on the product, and thus your later output is similarly devalued. I don't know if this is true or not, and I can provide no empirical evidence to suggest it, but this is my gut feeling.
2. We'll make it up in the back end! This is demonstrably false, of course. A catch-22, if ever I saw one. You can't actually sell your product because it has no intrinsic value to it. You will begin selling your product once it has intrinsic value. It can't have any intrinsic value until such is assigned to it by you, the author. Ergo...
3. We're going to build a fan base first, then rock the shit out of 'em! Hmmm. Dunno 'bout that one.
4. I make music as a hobby, and have no interest in charging money for it. I just want people to hear and comment on what I've made. Now, this is a true calling, and while I don't subscribe to that view myself, I understand it.
Personally, I think a lot of musicians put their first releases out there for free these days, in the same way that I would give a demo tape to anyone in 1988. However, the difference is that, with that tape, there was a physical face-to-face transaction taking place, and I could imply value where there was none. Aleksi had no way of knowing that I would listen to his MP3s today, and he couldn't qualify or quantify what I was going to hear, and he almost certainly didn't want it to turn in to some meta-discussion about the nature of business in music, but there you go. Thoughts?