5 Shrewd Ways Musicians Give Away Free Music

Henrik Moltke via Flickr
Free beer can also be a great incentive, for a few reasons.
Musicians can always find a reason to give their music away for free. Such a seemingly selfless act may result in increased popularity, real monetary profit, a statement being made, or perhaps simply sharing their talents with the world.

With such results in mind, here are five strategies musicians have for giving their work away gratis, while their fans (usually) reap the benefits.

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Here's a screenshot of a band's Facebook page requiring a "like" in order to listen to their music.
5. Social Currency
I'll use Facebook as an example here. Many musicians have a Facebook page for their music. Some offer streaming music and require a "like" for it to be played. This gets the page extra likes. However, some potential fans might dismiss the music before hearing it simply because some don't want to socially promote something before knowing what it is. People are self-conscious. It's Facebook.

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4. Packaging
A few years ago I bought my mother and I concert tickets to go see Prince, her all-time favorite artist. These tickets were conveniently packaged with his then-latest album, Musicology. If I remember correctly, a copy of his album was being handed out to each concertgoer at the door. I can't say Musicology was Prince's greatest work, but having that album at that moment to listen to in the car directly following his undoubtedly impressive show made it sound so much better.

The free version of Musicology came in just a sort of slipcover, and copies with inserts and whatnot at the show were also selling fast at full-album price. Prince knew his album was going to sell anyway, but offering a hard copy of the music fans had just seen could also be an incentive for them to go see him again.

3. Persistence
Some musicians may require listeners to sign up for their fan club before allowing access to a free track. This allows the musicians to promote, promote, promote, and also collect information on their fans.

Later, some of those listeners may decide they aren't such great fans of the music and attempt to unsubscribe, yet continue to receive an only slightly reduced volume of emails after doing so. Some people are touchy and don't like getting unwanted emails. This would be a way to lose those fans.

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