Giving in to the culture of free.

Even with two new babies in the house, relatives visiting and a few social events, I have still found time to reflect a bit on my music project over these past few weeks. And I’ve made some decisions.

When I first started my album project back in 2007, I had hopes of covering about half my costs through music sales, and when bandcamp launched, it seemed I might actually be able to reach this goal, as bandcamp was free and let artists keep 100% of every dollar of sales revenue. I figured I would price my album at $10 and sell about 1000 over the course of a year. Presto, 10 grand and a large portion of my recording costs taken care of.

Then my costs kept rising, then CD sales fell off a cliff, then piracy rose, then it became culturally okay to simply take the music you liked from wherever your could find it, and on and on and on.

So I began to draw up a new plan. And as I worked on it, one question became more important than all others: did I want people to hear my music or buy it? I opted for the former. Once that was settled, I revisited the ugly topic of money. Given the small fortune I’m spending to make this album, earning some money from it would certainly be nice. But how? After much gnashing of neurons, I’ve decided to pin my hopes on licensing (film, TV, advertising, other musical acts, anybody!). And in order to ensure that my music has the greatest possibility of being heard by potential licensees -- and everybody else -- I’ve decided to let people download it for FREE from bandcamp. Yes, free. As in free. Meaning the exact same as free. I will also offer a physical CD, which will be priced at $5 on bandcamp with the option to pay a little more for those so inclined, and there might be a package that includes a CD and a T-Shirt (not sure on this, working on details). I will also distribute the album worldwide via iTunes and Amazon, where no one will buy it, but it will be there, dammit!

Before I set this plan in stone, I will meet with an entertainment attorney to make sure I’m not fundamentally screwing anything up, but I suspect all will be cool.

One last thought: I titled this post “giving into the culture of free” but there is another way to look at this that’s far more positive. In my other life -- advertising -- back when I first tried to get a job, I offered to do writing projects for nothing and I offered to intern for nothing, and I spent a small fortune on my spec portfolio. It was all a coordinated effort to be heard, to be given a chance, to show people what I could do before demanding anything from them. And it worked. I got more than a job, I got a career. Now, as I embark on the final first steps of my musical career, I’m hoping that giving to get will once again pay off. Even if it simply means being hear by a lot of people, and not over Jango but over their own iPods/Pads etc.