Free - a critique of a book i've not read

so i felt really out of touch, with the slew of free albums out last year, to be charging for bruised pilgrim. i honestly wouldn't have minded giving it away, paying for the pressing out of my own goodwill and effort and lobbing it out to people who i thought would probably appreciate it. which to be fair, is pretty much what i've been doing with most of my copies anyway.

but i think mr. wired longtail is wrong about his 'free' conjecture. and here's why:

there's only two ways to support the 'free' hypothesis (i changed my mind, it's not a conjecture anymore); either by promise of money in the future, or by ad revenue.

in terms of promise of money in the future, imagine every band gave their albums away for free until they were popular enough to sell their music. anytime that a band got to that point, not enough people would buy the paid-for album - they'd switch away in droves to all the music that was still free, or just pirate the paid-for albums, since they were so used to free music.

in terms of ad revenues - come on. maybe on the internet, but a) i can't see band websites having banner ads that cover the cost of hosting, let alone recording and promoting music, and b) where's all this money going to come from? who are these adverts for? at some point, somewhere along the line, someone must be transacting some money, so this point regresses into an infinite loop.

maybe if the people who are selling their wares spend all their profit on advertising through the people who are giving stuff away for free... ah this is just stupid. you either do it for free, or you don't. the free economy is a con.


laurence said...

i have a bunch of points that i'll make at random to obscure the fact that most or all probably aren't any good..

you're missing something and i find it hard to be concise about what it is. the only money i've spent on music in the last two years (or more maybe) has been buying cds directly from bands. to the boats would be a classic example, if i wasn't getting a copy i'd have bought it. i feel such bands deserve it, etc.

charging your friends for your album is a bit like charging your girlfriend for sex. ok maybe it's not.

i do like the idea of having the choice between a free digital copy or buying the cd. i personally like giving away drunken butterfly cds cos i put a lot of joy into making them.

thing is.. people who make worthwhile music will make that music whether they earn money from it or not. the internet now makes it possible for that good music to get to everyone for very little expense. if this means people who make music to make money will stop making music and start shutting the fuck up, i'm kind of happy.

tours will still make a lot of money, so bands will still tour. maybe they'll be encouraged to tour more (and actually make it to denmark).

infact, people i know who make money being a professional artist make most of their money from gigging - fees plus the merch table - not selling albums.

but in the end, yep.. people should be rewarded for making artistic contributions to society. maybe my favourite bands would like to come round for supper and some wine? i don't know.

your ideas about ad revenue is scary. inserting brand names and adverts into your music? isn't this way of thinking what got us into the mess to begin with?

but yeah. the radiohead thing wont work with small bands. that's just never going to happen.


the word verification code was "deffult", that's nice

Unknown said...

uh, this is what i trying to say

laurence said...

er.. me too.

that's a great article

Grill said...

Russian Game Piracy has a lesson here - and I'll blog about this later, properly - but in the meantime, you drop your price down really low, you get the governments on your side, and you make the physical package awesome - and you just give up on digital distribution because usenet will always do it better than you.