[ Hypnos Forum ]

MUSIC, AMBIENCE AND SOUND ART => Other Ambient (and related) Music => Topic started by: MarkM on August 10, 2008, 05:01:39 PM

Title: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: MarkM on August 10, 2008, 05:01:39 PM
For established artists such as NIN and Radiohead, free (or nearly nearly free) distribution can be a financial advantage for them.  However, can free distribution harm a genre of music, such as ambient, by diluting it?  Would free distribution hurt established artists such as those on the Hypnos label? Obviously it cannot be stopped, but I wonder if the practice is devaluing the genre.  Are some established artists just moving on to something else out of frustration?
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: APK on August 10, 2008, 05:56:28 PM
There is an analogy to be made with the realm of photography.
There are lots of sites where people post their photographs and holiday snaps and so on, and you can view and download them for free.
But professional photographers only put up small, lo-res versions. Their full size prints and images are only available for sale.

A lot of people stringing samples together and making some music in their spare time are happy to just put it out there for free.
You won't see, for example, Steve Roach doing that. He's a professional musician who puts a LOT of time and work into his music. He expects to be paid for that work just as people do in their own types of daily 9-5pm jobs.

Yep, I do think all the free stuff dilutes the pool and can divert attention from the best in a genre.
When stuff is free or cheap it will attract an audience on that basis alone, rather than on quality. Its like people attracted to fast food because its cheap and easy to obtain.

Free stuff, when it becomes the norm, leads people to think it should ALL be free. Which leads to file sharing and mindless posting of artist's works as though its some amorphous unattached product and not a work of labour that took time and skill. It's like thinking all paintings, photographs, and other works done by artists should be offered for free (or pretty much anything made by individuals for that matter). Which is clearly not the case.

That's my current state of mind on this 8)
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: Altus on August 11, 2008, 06:49:53 PM
APK, you just released "Land" as a free download.  I'm saying this in the nicest way possible:  From your comments here, doesn't that make you a hypocrite?   ;)

Personally, I enjoy the simplicity of uploading my music to my site and having it readily available to everyone.  Generalizing that an artist giving away his/her music means that they didn't put a lot of time and work into it is silly.

Judging from the numbers of my only release that isn't available for free, I could have enough money to buy all those music-making tools I've been drooling over.  But it's more important to me that people have unlimited access to my work.  Sure, there's going to be a lot of people who may download a release and never even listen to it.  But there's also going to be a lot of people who will enjoy my work, but wouldn't have purchased it because they didn't want to take a chance on an unknown artist.

In the past, a label decided who was heard and who wasn't.  It wasn't really a problem because we didn't know what we were missing.  Now, thanks to the Internet, everyone has the ability to be heard.  We all have a choice of who we want to hear, but as you mentioned the drawback is a huge dilution of music.  Nothing is perfect and you have to take the good with the bad.  I'd take dilution over never having the chance to hear a particular artist.

In my opinion, there's no right or wrong way to distribute music... only different thoughts on what's right or wrong.  I have no problem with an artist charging money for their hard work.  But it boggles my mind if you feel that my choice to release my music freely is ruining the genre.
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: APK on August 11, 2008, 07:37:48 PM

Mike: I do release only a few free things, so maybe I'm only a little hypocrite  :)

But seriously, I see free releases pretty much the way you do ... you can hopefully reach a wider audience. And as such it's also a form of promotion.

My primary concern, though, is with how free releases set up expectations in the public mind. As I said in the previous post: the growing expectation that all music should be 'set free', and be freely available and freely passed around and copied with little or no regard for copyright or the sheer work of the artist.

I'm not against free music per se, and i also believe its good that the artist has gained lots of freedom in this digital web-world.

Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: APK on August 11, 2008, 07:45:37 PM
Another analogy that might say something to this issue.
Pornography -- its just not the same now there is so much of it freely available.
It loses its potency.
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: ffcal on August 11, 2008, 08:57:02 PM
My view on this has evolving somewhat.  Although I agree with Anthony that there is the issue of dilution, my greater concern is that of quality control.  This issue has always been there, from the days of mp3.com.  It may be asking too much to expect an artist who may be too close to his or her own music to be an efficient editor/filter of the material that is to be released as well.  I think it is more respectful to the listener's time if less rather than more is released.  It's not just the wasted time in downloading a file, it's wasted time for the disappointed consumer listening, too.  I think that traditional labels still perform a valuable function not only as curators with a particular aesthetic/vision, but also as gatekeepers, so that only releases that meet a certain threshold get released.  Maybe a well-run netlabel such as Resting Bell or Monotonik can serve the same function, but there are only so many hours in the day to spend trawling for free music.

Forrest
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: Altus on August 12, 2008, 04:13:23 AM
Netlabels have a lot of potential.  But I find that, as Forrest mentioned, they'll release anything just to say: We have a new release.  I find even the big players, for the most part, release too much mediocre music.  Or more often stuff that's just so off the wall that it's not that enjoyable (at least for me).  I enjoy a good drone/glitch/noise release every now and then, but 50 of them?  No thanks.

By the way, I just want to stress that there's no ill will towards you guys who feel the way you do about free music.  I understand your feelings completely, and in some respects completely agree with you.  (I guess that makes me a small hypocrite as well)  It's just that this isn't the first time this topic has come about and seems like the next "bad thing" that people turn their nose up to, like using softsynths.   ;)   But that's a whole other can of worms.  heh
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: phrozenlight on August 12, 2008, 08:07:20 AM
Quote
A lot of people stringing samples together and making some music in their spare time are happy to just put it out there for free.
You won't see, for example, Steve Roach doing that. He's a professional musician who puts a LOT of time and work into his music. He expects to be paid for that work just as people do in their own types of daily 9-5pm jobs.

rubbish;
I work 40 hours in a week to earn money for living,
I am working 25+ hours per week on my music (incl. the weekends, no holidays counted)
(my wife does not like it   :'(  )

On year basis it would be:
work 1700 hours
music 1300 hours (half of my holidays included)
so at the end of the year the difference is not that big ;)


I think free music is ok, but I like also see some money coming to me as a sort of reward.
That's why I release "free" and "not free" albums, or why I have made the possibility to donate  ;D

Problem is when you make your music for your living selling albums will never pay out.
You must give concerts, workshop etc to get money enough to have a living of it.
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: APK on August 12, 2008, 08:36:12 AM
Quote
A lot of people stringing samples together and making some music in their spare time are happy to just put it out there for free.
You won't see, for example, Steve Roach doing that. He's a professional musician who puts a LOT of time and work into his music. He expects to be paid for that work just as people do in their own types of daily 9-5pm jobs.

rubbish;


I'm not sure what you think was "rubbish". Surely a lot of people do in fact do that. Yes ?

Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: mgriffin on August 12, 2008, 09:00:24 AM
A couple of artists who distribute their work for free have said "I take my work seriously and put a lot of time into it" as if this disproves the idea that artists giving away their work for free are likely, in general, to be less serious about their work than those who charge for their work.

I don't think anyone would say that an artist giving away free downloads proves that the artist is careless or unserious about their work.  But those few examples of serious artists giving away free music do not prove that the generalization is not usually true.
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: phrozenlight on August 12, 2008, 09:39:47 AM
Quote
..He's a professional musician who puts a LOT of time and work into his music. He expects to be paid for that work just as people do in their own types of daily 9-5pm jobs.

rubbish;


I'm not sure what you think was "rubbish". Surely a lot of people do in fact do that. Yes ?


I mean ".. expects to be paid for that work just as people do in their own types of daily 9-5pm jobs" that is rubbish.

Maybe Steve does that, but I could do the same, and a lot of those "amateurs" do it also. But it is not a good reason to let people pay for your music ( in my eyes)
But everyone is free to make their choice to let people pay for their Art.

For me it is important to let my "music" distributed, so every can listen to it, not because the time I spend to produce it  ;D

Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: APK on August 12, 2008, 10:33:11 AM
Phrozenlight: " ... it is not a good reason to let people pay for your music"

???   It seems to me a very good reason. If creating music didn't take time and work I think people would resent paying for it.

(I'm of course not saying that because it takes time and work you must charge money for it.)
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: jkn on August 12, 2008, 01:34:44 PM

Lots of layers to this discussion...

Is free music devaluing the genre?   Not necessarily.   It could - but then so could too many labels and too many artists releasing music for sale.    I've seen a few artists mentioned from time to time that release a lot of music for sale and they get picked on for releasing "too much".    Are they?  I think that's subjective.   

I remember the old mp3.com days (which Forrest alluded to also) - and there were artists putting music for free that was brilliant and wonderful - and then a bunch of artists that seemed to put every single scrap of music they ever recorded up.   Because they could.   

Anyone with server space has the ability to post their music online for everyone to hear.   Getting noticed among the thousands of people doing the same thing... that's a different trick.   

Getting onto a netlabel that's free - some of them are easy to release with some aren't - I think it depends on who they are and what they're trying to accomplish.  Just like with artists - a label starts to lose attention if it releases subpar stuff. 

Anyway - no - I don't think it dilutes much.   People that love the music are going to wade through and look for ways to find the music they want to hear - either through forums like this and opinions of people on these forums - or reviewers - or blogs - or something else.

Technology is just changing and we have to change along with it one way or the other.   It's utterly amazing to me how wonderful the internet is, despite the pitfalls - it's truly crushing communication barriers that previously existed.   I would have never met 99% of the people I regularly chat with about music without it - or have found a huge number of artists who's cd's, cdr's, and downloads I regularly play.

 


Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: michael sandler on August 13, 2008, 05:26:58 PM
Part of the issue as well is something much alluded to already: the price of music. Is the difference between Altus and Steve Roach worth $15? Now, before I get pummeled with tomatoes, I have bought a few Roach CDs, and I think they were well worth it. Maybe there aren't any freebies out there as good as Magnificent Void, so I bought it. But there is a lot of music out there that would be well worth the same price if the aritist chose to charge for it, and I wonder if people might even subconsciously think more highly of it if it did come at a price.

Of course, you can get Roach music at a better price on iTunes ("Structures" for $9.99 vs. $15.00 for CD, for example), so maybe I'm just bitchy about the price of CDs.

Mike S

Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: MarkM on August 13, 2008, 08:26:46 PM
I think the general public judges quality by the price tag associated with it:  perceived value.  Of course the price doesn't always guarantee that the quality will reflect the cost.  For example:  Altus' music is free, and yet, in my opinion, worth paying for because of its quality.

Personally, I think putting a price on your music gives the artist a clearer view of how many people have listened (or want to listen) to your music.  If it is free, you don't know how many people downloaded, listened, and enjoyed your tracks.  If they have to purchase your music, the artist can most likely assume the tracks were desired and listened to, because the buyer  heard samples, were familiar with previous work, or were recommended to buy it.

Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: CelestialMiasma on August 14, 2008, 01:56:39 AM
I don't think it dilutes the genre, no. People tend to enjoy free things regardless of the quantity of it that's available, and don't necessarily value it more if very little of it is available, unless it's something greatly popular (which ambient is not) or material (which you would have to purchase anyway). Releasing the tracks for free will, if anything, divert people away from music pirating, as they will be able to hear your music without needing to pirate it - it will not create pirates. More likely than not, an unknown artist trying to commercially sell their music straight away will have very few if any buyers, and as such people may not even hear the music via a pirated source. People who tend to obtain music via a pirated source are likely going to do the same for ambient they're interested in too, and if they really like it, they may still buy it. It does not effect the percieved quality of the genre, and it's likely that the well known names in the genre will still be percieved as sources of greater products by their apparent popularity anyway - which just makes it harder for the lesser known artists, so offering the music for free is really a great buffer for getting a few listeners.

And of course, the quality can't be decided upon by whether it's free or not-free alone, since it should be safe to assume that the primary intent of any artist is to create that which is an artform to them (which is why they're called an artist), and the exploitation of it for survival should be secondary, if it is really being made for the sake of their own artistic fulfilment, with whatever intent that be interlinked with it (such as it being enjoyed by others, or some slight income to help you survive). Basically you do not necessarily make ambient (or most artforms for that matter) just to survive, so it is quite feasible that many artists will enjoy it if others can be exposed to their music by whatever means, and this does not have to take away anything from the genre - if anything it adds to it by allowing the expression of ambience to be more readily experienced. Yes, some may release material that really is poorly developed, but that is inevitable in anything really, free or not-free. Mediocrity isn't something worth arguing about seriously in such a context because society is drenched in it, it is quite obvious that people must search most often for good material - just discovering the respected artists in the ambient genre usually requires some searching or discovery. The same goes for free material.
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: solyaris on August 14, 2008, 01:58:52 AM
Mark,

two binary answers and an explanation afterward

Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?

Yes

Quote
Would free distribution hurt established artists such as those on the Hypnos label?

Yes


This is a topic so long discussed in past.

About the price of music and distribution:
there is a problem of costs on delivery music on a phisical support: CD (CDr) life-cycle is not exactly "free" for music maker that's why I need to cover operational costs and so I need to ask money on shipping :(
Virtually, I mean on music delivered on the net, would be free because costs for maker are really low,
so low that do not justify a cost cover to the listener; the problem is that, a part payments, I feel "too much lo-fi" the current digital music "technology" lyfe-cycle (audio compressions, bandwith, internet, computers, etc.); in other world: I think CD is the best hi-fi & simple in user experience (please listen far from pc ;) ), so I chose the compromise to deliver my music via shipped CD; that's have a cost that I ask to listener/buyer.

About the artist perspective:
I'm a musician, but more than that, I'm interested in the deep mystery of music.
Anyway let me assume the point of view of an "artist"...:  what I really think is that the main (initial!) point to possibly create art is freedom, but Money and Freedom did not ever agree ;). When artists will understand that, artist will be a bit more happy. If you, as art maker, are focused  on listeners responses ... on money return ... on social power ... you are ... let me say in a polite way: "not free" ... unable to discover true beauties, you will dry up.

About established artists:
Their problem is that in many cases established artists consider their activities as a job ...
"work" / "projects" are common terms to describe their activities.
This is comprehensible because the artist fit himself in our society with a role apparently respectable ...

many years ago, I was eighteen, I was playing for money in an commercial folk dance music band ... a kind of Italian traditional ugly music called "ballo liscio" (maybe something similar to "country music" in USA...)
That's was a real job form me! I was paid for study and perform (complex) guitar lead parts ...
After two weeks of live I was in the point to break myguitar in two parts for the rage ...

Afterward I allways decided to separate the way to survive (any job) from the music.


giorgio
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: darkenedsoul on August 14, 2008, 05:18:53 PM
I released Dreamscapes on Earth Mantra awhile ago and a french nelabel which appears defunct now (been down for a long time...not sure what's up) as well as over at last.fm.

I try not to charge too high a price for my releases, I think it's reasonable what I (and others) charge for time put in making the music, getting them printed (either professionally or in your home, hey, ink, etc...costs). I have been on the fence on doing a run of 100 for my 2nd and split release but seeing I have had hardly any sales on them (not for a real lack of promoting them) I am on the fence on it. I'll eventually release my 2nd release on a net label, probably Earth Mantra again. I am not looking to get rich as I have no delusions that I'll be able to sustain my lifestyle by doing that. With that said I think it's great folks put stuff out for free as well as sell their music. Hey, we all put a lot of time, effort, sweat, blood, whatever into our music/craft. It isn't unreasonable to try and recoup some of the costs for it. Be it for software updates, new gear, etc...

But in the end for most of us it's a no-win situation with regards to being able to recoup and maybe make a few bucks to the plus. I know I'm way down with regards to investment in software/updates and hardware. Even when I was playing in the band (for 4 yrs) we hardly saw squat with regards to money from doing shows. Even on tour we all paid out of pocket >$600 apiece to do 10 shows in 12 days. Times that by 6 for the 6 members on the tour + ~$1200 in gas = a big loss. We had fun for damn sure, a LOT of laughs, some good shows (less than the mediocre ones of course, low turnouts, etc...) but it was interesting. Playing the Heathen Crusade II back in Jan. 07 was a BLAST! We all had a great time, but again, we didn't make diddly for money, met a lot of great people, et al.

But to me in this style of music, you have to have a label in order to be able to at least meet what you spent on time/sweat/gear, but then again that's my opinion. At least some of us do this as a hobby/project (me), others are deeper into it for the longer haul (most likely). I don't know when I'll stop. I would like to continue putting out releases now and then, not the *yearly* thing like most artists. But when sales are null/little to none it makes you think twice on continuing some times. At least it does to me. Probably since it's ROIC that I look at more than others (RIOC = return on investment capital, i.e. gear and software mostly). But as long as I'm a) having fun, b) enjoying myself and c) putting something out that at least some folks enjoy (I love hearing from the few who've purchased in the past and ask when a new one will be out!) I am content. Of course I'd love to make a few grand or so a year on this but I know better ;-)

Anyways, off my soapbox. I'll still contribute to the Drone Download Project, any other label that's putting a compilation out and is interested in having me on it and any label that's interested in doing a release by me. Stephen Philips is next on my list for a release to the masses ;-)

Mike
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: phrozenlight on August 15, 2008, 01:47:47 AM
...Probably since it's ROIC that I look at more than others (RIOC = return on investment capital, i.e. gear and software mostly).

That is why I have choosen for the use of freeware and a simple synth and web releases instead of CD ;)
BTW I think having more and expensive gear does not make better music. (IMHO)


Quote
But as long as I'm a) having fun, b) enjoying myself and c) putting something out that at least some folks enjoy (I love hearing from the few who've purchased in the past and ask when a new one will be out!) I am content.

complity agree 8)

Getting positive reactions... that's the reason to go on with making music  ;)
Getting negative reactions is also a good reason to go on, I still remember what the critics wrote about Schulze and TD  ;D

Quote
Of course I'd love to make a few grand or so a year on this but I know better ;-)..

I love MONEY too  ;D ;D
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: petekelly on August 15, 2008, 03:50:55 AM
Why don't Robert Rich and Steve Roach release free music ?

I think the truth is that they know people are prepared to buy it.
Given the choice, I imagine all the artists who release free material would prefer it if people were
willing for pay them for their music.

Personally, I don't intend to release any free albums. My albums may not sell in vast quantities, but I'm
not prepared to give my work away. Like a number of artists (I imagine), I could release 3 albums next month if I wanted to (from all the
work-in-progress / unused material that I have), but I would rather take the time to make one good
release next year. 

cheers
Pete
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: snappingturtle on August 15, 2008, 05:07:32 AM
1.  Why should an undiscovered talent with $800 to their name and no health insurance, end up getting their music buried in history because Steve Roach needed a second house, a new car and some exotic vacation? 

2.  Free music simply levels the playing field and lets evolution take its course.  Evolution in musical thought, in marketing thought, and business thought. 
If labels start putting out crap, then they are crappy labels.  It's people's standards that dictate their future in music, not whether it was free or for sale. 

3.  This allows breathing room for a label like my new Savage Yank Records, to actually gain a market by simply raising our level of quality control.  This doesn't cost us anything.  Perhaps we should have paid to raise our personal standards so they would have perceived value.

4.  To imply that a genre is becoming diluted is to also imply that the genre has peaked.  Try to be more positive.  I don't think the best music has even seen the light of day yet.  More "common folk" are exposed to it and at least they're giving it a try- this was exactly the goal wasn't it?

5.  It's so funny to me that "artists" who are supposedly overly concerned with progress end up becoming fearful of the very future they have created.  Evolve or die!

http://www.savageyankrecords.com/snappingturtle (http://www.savageyankrecords.com/snappingturtle)
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: mgriffin on August 15, 2008, 09:39:24 AM
Snappingturtle, there are some questionable assumptions at work in some of your points.

1. "because Steve Roach needed a second house, a new car and some exotic vacation" -- what makes you think Steve Roach lives a wealthy, jet-setting life?   Would it make a difference in your argument to know that most established artists such as Steve Roach are not wealthy at all, and are trying to find creative ways to get by in an environment in which people are buying fewer and fewer CDs?

2. "free music simply levels the playing field" -- how does giving away music for free, level the playing field with regard to music that is sold?  To me, a "level playing field" would involve comparing the merits of one piece of art versus another, without a price difference making one piece seem more worth having than another.  The price of ZERO on a free download is the reverse of a level playing field... it's an advantage to gaining the free download more listenership and getting the music into the hands of as many people as possible, certainly more listeners than the music would gain with a level playing field (meaning, the music had a price tag equivalent to other music).  If you mean "gives the unknown artist an advantage in gaining listeners because free is such a great price compared to $15 for a CD by Steve Roach or Robert Rich,' then that's fine, but gaining an advantage by undercutting on price is not the same thing as "levels the playing field"

3. Are you blaming your listening audience for perceiving a higher value in a paid-for CD, than in a free download?  Or are you blaming more conventionally-established artists and labels for creating an environment where you need to pay to have CDs made, in order to keep up?  I'm not sure what you're asserting here.

4. Implying that a huge influx of "free download" amateurs have glutted the ambient music market does not say anything about whether the genre has peaked. How is one connected to the other?  I think the work being done by the best artists is as good as it has ever been, but I see no contradiction in asserting that the average level of quality is dropping due to the huge crowd of less-serious beginners using Reason or Acid to throw together a few pieces of music and offer it for free download.   

5. There are all kinds of definitions of "progress" -- I don't remember many established artists in any genre ever saying "what we really need is a huge influx of amateurs using modern tools to create thousands of hours worth of similar-sounding music that they give away for free on the internet."
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: SunDummy on August 15, 2008, 10:00:19 AM
The whole "perceived value" thing is interesting. 

If I download a release for free, or pay I-tunes (or whoever) for a download, all I'm getting is the music.  Played back-to-back on my MP3 player, or the PC in my office, all I care about is the quality of the music (sound-quality issues of MP3s are another topic).  I don't enjoy the free tracks any less or any more than stuff I paid for, or ripped from a CD in my collection.

If I had the choice of paying $15 for a download, or paying $15 for an elaborate hand-made package with a CDR of the same music, I'll go with the physical object every time.  Why?  To me, music is just one part of the whole of a release.  A large part, to be sure; but the artwork, messages, info, etc. all add (or subtract) from the whole 'experience' of enjoying the release.  Free downloads don't have the same impact.  If I could get an elaborate hand-made package with a CDR of music for free, well, that'd be the best-case scenario.  Obviously, that won't happen.  If putting stuff out there for free download is the only way an artist can get exposure, then I say go for it.  Not everyone can afford to release their own stuff on CDR, and just because a release doesn't interest a label enough to put it out as a CD does not mean it's not worthy of being presented to the world.

I've released some small-run CDRs, which sold quickly; I've released some stuff on netlabels for free; I've put stuff on my site for free.  One netlabel release has over 5000 downloads; there's no way I could have sold 5000 CD's of that release.  More people are getting to hear it than if I charged for it, and for me, that's the whole point.
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: ffcal on August 15, 2008, 11:00:41 AM
1.  Why should an undiscovered talent with $800 to their name and no health insurance, end up getting their music buried in history because Steve Roach needed a second house, a new car and some exotic vacation? 

Pissing on an established ambient artist is probably not the best way to bring attention to your new label.  Thought your response to Jim Brenholt's posting in another thread about not being able to download your label's music was a bit harsh, too.  Hard to escape the irony that you are making your arguments on the virtues of your "free" music on the forum of an established ambient label.  Maybe you should consider giving some of your sales royalties to Hypnos for enabling you to publicize your fledgling label.  Best of of luck with your new label, anyway.

Forrest
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: Bill Binkelman on August 15, 2008, 12:49:16 PM
1.  Why should an undiscovered talent with $800 to their name and no health insurance, end up getting their music buried in history because Steve Roach needed a second house, a new car and some exotic vacation? 

Pissing on an established ambient artist is probably not the best way to bring attention to your new label.  Thought your response to Jim Brenholt's posting in another thread about not being able to download your label's music was a bit harsh, too.  Hard to escape the irony that you are making your arguments on the virtues of your "free" music on the forum of an established ambient label.  Maybe you should consider giving some of your sales royalties to Hypnos for enabling you to publicize your fledgling label.  Best of of luck with your new label, anyway.

Forrest

I gotta agree 100 percent with Forrest on this one.
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: Seren on August 15, 2008, 02:58:39 PM
If I ever manage to get website savvy and actually create one I would love to give some of my music as free downloads - but not make that my main focus. I sent Mike a couple of tracks as possibles for the 'Sounds of a Universe Overheard' compilation and would be happy releasing the unused track in that way, possibly other unreleased tracks too - in a way knowing I would not be aiming for a physical release all the time, with the consequent effort on art etc could make me (and i am only commenting on my own processes here) a bit freer in wilder experimentation, which of course would echo back into my sounds on the more formal planned projects too. i would enjoy the interaction between listener and creater in that sort of context.

Also as time passes I might look on early releases and might consider reworking them so that the original limited editions would still be unique, but have some of the tracks available for free in some way.

BUT, it feels important that I make that choice either way, for myself. Not feel I should do one thing or another because of modern technology, peer pressure or the need to make a living. I suppose I need to be free to make my art/music, even if I have no skills in marketing/publicising or any other form of getting it out there.

I think there is always a balance between energy put into something and what comes back, and that energy could be feedback, just knowing it is out there being listened to and also financial return. Artists in many fields juggle with these concerns all the time and despite the very public figures who may get rich it seems most muddle along to one level or another, often using unexpected finances if a piece is bought to finance the next.

My only concern is that the returns, of whatever form, make the efforts worthwhile. If I just felt it was a black hole sucking all my creativity, it would become unpleasant and a drain.

I am currently working on a project which will include a very limited run with a lot of artwork included - it's not cheap getting the printed I want done and i know the exchange rates are going to be a real issue for this. But in a family with, until very recently only one wage earner, I cannot afford to have an expensive hobby that uses up our food money, I'm not rich enough to have that freedom.

Here is the soapbox bit - I do feel the overwhelming desire to expect or have everything for free is a pernicious part of modern culture. Nothing is for free and you can't do or have what you want when you want it just because you do want it. we don't actually have rights to anything - just agreements that some things are considered good and others not.

Much of the current financial and social problems have been caused by that belief (and the more intricate and dangerous ways of making more and more money in order to fuel it). expecting everything for free is unsustainable whether you are an individual or a government and only develops if you do not have a clear awareness of everything going on (which is almost impossible in current situation - despite the information highway and overload). The Dineh, or Navajo, have a sayingwhich is something like "You act as if you have no family" and indicates a dangerous and unhealthy level of self interest.

OKOK could go on but will stop here
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: deepspace on August 16, 2008, 04:47:02 AM
This is such a complex issue that I don't even really want to post, but I am noticing a few things about this topic that make me want to add my five cents:

Everyone seems quite passionate about their side of the debate, and a few people (Altus) putting in some very persuasive arguments, with some others also presenting a very passionate case for paying for music.  Let me say that I have complex feelings about the issue, as I think most of you do.  It's not clear-cut, and it's fraught with personal feelings.

The thing is, we have no say in this really (and maybe this absolves me, but let me continue...)  We cannot control the fact that so many artists are putting out their work for free, just like we could not control what conventional record labels released in the past.  We are all being held hostage, in a way, to the big change going on right now.   Some look at it in a positive way, some negative, some in between.  All of us, I think, are wondering about how it will pan out.  I don't pretend to know, but maybe music does thrive on this sort of tension.  Maybe music thrives on the struggle.  So I don't think it's all negative.  I'm sure you can all think of artists that released better music when they were struggling, as opposed to when they could have everything they wanted.  Control hangs in the balance, and music is the soundtrack.  (Is that a laughable idea?)

I do think that the big artists (NIN, Radiohead) releasing their music for free do seem a bit-short sighted, and their actions are a big smack upside the head to all of the smaller artists out there, who don't have hordes of supporters.  And I am surprised by that.  It seems like another exercise in appearing very independent to the masses, and ridding oneself of big-label association, but it comes with a big cost to us:  listeners will expect more free work.  From everyone.  They will be more full.  They will want to eat less.  And we have a lot of food to sell....

I have released some music for free also-  but my main catalogue of albums are not free-  I like to think of the idea of 'perceived value' having an effect in the listeners mind.  I really do think it does have an effect.  I remember a friend telling me about the wonders of bittorent a few years ago, and I went and got a program that I had been salivating over, as a torrent.  I was horrified to see how little time I spent learning the program, and how getting it for free, took away my enthusiasm to get to know it.  I know that when I spend money on a program, I use a different part of my brain-  I take my time, I learn how to use it properly- I try to get my money's worth.

On the other side of the coin:  I have downloaded quite a few of the Altus albums for free, and spend a lot of time listening to them.....so that counters my last argument.  I think the surprise there, is that the listener hears an Altus album and goes "this is so good, *and* it was free album- hooray for free albums" whereas with most other free downloaded releases, it's a case of "yeah, it's ok, jeez i'm glad that it was free....because I would be pretty annoyed if I had paid for this."  :)  So many mediocre releases: A case of too much freedom, too much experimentation, not enough pressure on the artist to deliver something that will transport and elevate the listener.  We all want to be moved.  Altus seems to be in the minority, to be able to move the listener, for no cost.  He can maintain his quality level by himself.  Not all artists have that ability.  I don't think Altus should charge for his music if he doesn't want to.  But I do know that I would buy it in a hearbeat if he did. 

One more thing- people talk about bigger labels (like Hypnos) like they are immune to this whole issue, and there is a feeling in some people's posts of "how dare they still charge for their music in the face of all of this change!!" (snapping turtle), and how dare they only release music by established artists who are a safe bet.  Well, I am having a release by Hypnos, and I am not an "established" artist.  In fact, I don't know how many Hypnos artists would consider themselves "established"   What you have instead are labels like Hypnos who are charging for music because they believe in the value of the artists and themselves, but are also trying to bring incentive back into the genre, and on top of that, are also taking additional risks by releasing new artists.  Imagine for a second if Hypnos stopped charging money for their releases.  The boat would tip.  No one could charge a cent anymore.  It would force the entire scene to be rewarded as hobbyists. Remind me someone, how do we deserve that?  That's right, we don't.  New labels like Savage Yank can be all 'punk' from their position of relative ease, but I wonder if they would be brave enough, and believe in their releases enough to charge for them.  No?  I thought not.


Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: MarkM on August 16, 2008, 05:59:11 AM
Quote
I do think that the big artists (NIN, Radiohead) releasing their music for free do seem a bit-short sighted, and their actions are a big smack upside the head to all of the smaller artists out there, who don't have hordes of supporters.  And I am surprised by that.

One of the reasons that big established artists release free tracks is to promote an upcoming tour.  Years ago bands like the Rolling Stones would tour to promote their new album.  Their income was primarily record sales.  Now this level of performer releases a CD (free or otherwise) to promote the tour.  With ticket sales and merchandise, the tour is the big money-maker for the artist.  Basically, artists like Radiohead and NIN don't need a record company.  After releasing their free tracks, I believe NIN also offered a CD for sale with extra tracks and other paid options.  The free tracks were like advertising (or bait).  Giving away free tracks is great PR for these artists. On one hand they appear to be generous and grateful to their fans, and on the other hand they are probably making more profit.

For the fringe artists, these tactics would probably not apply.  Michael Peck and I offer some free tracks in hopes that people will buy our CDs.  We have no idea if anybody ever downloads our free tracks.  Our satisfaction comes from CD and performances purchases.  At our level, it's not the value of the money; the sales show us that somebody likes or is interested enough in our music to give something of themselves.
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: mgriffin on August 16, 2008, 09:17:49 AM
Right, NIN and Radiohead aren't giving away music to be altruistic, they're doing it because they believe it will "hook" more listeners into paying for the stuff (concerts and t-shirts and for-pay CDs and downloads) that they do decide to charge for. 

Having thought about this debate a bit more since my last post I realized, I don't hold anything against individual artists who decide to give their music away.  Nobody should be able to tell any artist they can't give away their work if that's what they want to do, if that's how they value the work in question, or if that seems to them the most satisfying outcome.  I can certainly understand an artist saying, "I'd rather have hundreds of people hear my work for free, than only have a very small number of people give me a very small amount of money to hear it."

What I'm sort of "complaining" about, or more accurately cautioning about, is not the individual artist's choice but the macro social trend of large numbers of artists (and even some small labels) doing this, and the cumulative effect that it has.  I really do believe there are quite a few people who still listen to and enjoy music just like they did ten years ago, but who have virtually stopped paying for any of it, between authorized and unauthorized free downloads.  That's what I think is a shame, and I think the effect will be an ever-greater number of artists giving up who might otherwise have continued if there had been some sort of compensation for their work, even a small amount of money coming in that never comes close to "making a living." 

Having talked to many, many independent recording artists, I've found that all of them have slightly different hopes for their work, different levels of expectation with regard to how it will be received.  So if you line up all the many artists on a spectrum from "most commercially-focused and money-minded, not willing to do this unless there's decent, consistent money coming in" on one end, to "doesn't give a crap, totally happy to give the work away for free as long as people are listening," obviously most people would fall somewhere in between. 

Well, what happens is that each artist has their position on that scale in terms of expectations, and each artist also has their own level of income from music, mostly CD sales and authorized downloads.  The artists who have the highest expectations in terms of "I want money, that's what I want" are not necessarily the ones with the highest actual sales and income, and if they're not, they simply give up and stop making music. 

In a thriving music scene, like the ambient scene was in the early to mid 90s, it was fairly easy for independent artists who were doing cool music, once they passed the threshold of recording a few albums and finding a label, to sell enough CDs that the amount of money was acceptable to them. I mean, maybe it's a couple thousand dollars a year that they'll use to buy a synthesize, maybe it's a little more and they'll get a cool ADAT deck and some microphones and a doumbek and a nice Lexicon reverb.  There were even guys making a living from ambient music back then, maybe not getting wealthy as was asserted earlier, but at least able to sort of feel like a "professional musician."

As our world has changed this past 15 years or so, all kinds of things have changed.  Record stores went out of business owing distributors money, distributors went out of business owing labels money, record labels went out of business when they couldn't sell CDs like they used to, many artists gave up when they couldn't sell CDs like they used to.  Guys like Robert Rich and Steve Roach used to be able to make a living from royalties from Hearts of Space, but now there isn't any big ambient label selling 5,000 or 10,000 or 20,000 copies of each new release, so those guys need to become more "DIY" in their approach, self-release most of their music so they get not only the artist's share but also the label's share (and furthermore, getting the record store's share by selling mostly through their own online stores).  I suspect those guys now make almost nothing from the conventional model (receiving royalties from a label) and almost everything from direct sales of a relatively small number of CDs, and from authorized download sales (something that didn't even exist 10 years ago).

But as has been stated in discussions of this type before, not everybody is NIN and Radiohead, and not every ambient artist is Steve Roach or Robert Rich.  What about the next tier of artists, the ones who were never selling 10,000 copies of an album via Hearts of Space and thus getting that higher level of name recognition?  Gradually the potential CD sales and other income from music for most artists, not the rank beginners but not the very top tier like Roach/Rich, is shrinking.  Not only are there more artists splitting up the pie (there are many, many more artists releasing ambient music for sale now than 15 years ago), but the pie is shrinking because there is so much more free music, both authorized and unauthorized.   Sure, many individuals still buy music despite finding a lot of music for free, but many don't, and those that do still buy, on average purchase less than they did before.

So if you have less money coming in from sales of music (CDs and downloads) in the genre as a whole, and you have the money split up between a large number of individuals, then you have almost everyone individually making less money than people were making earlier.  If you remember back to my "spectrum" of artists' expectations, you'll see why more and more of the artists with higher expectations in terms of how much money would justify them making music, will find their expectations unmet.  Usually, if someone feels like they need a certain reward in order to do something, and they don't get that reward, then they continue for a little while until they realize "this is really how it is," and then they quit.  What I see happening is that the people who are on the "higher" expectation end of the spectrum will increasingly drop off, except the more successful and resourceful ones, and more and more we'll be left with the "doing it for free, just happy to have people listening" end of the spectrum. Yes, there are talented and interesting people among those toiling at that end of the spectrum, but is that going to end up being a thriving and vital music scene... just Robert Rich and Steve Roach, and a few resourceful lucky ones, and a bunch of people who don't expect to ever see a penny for their work? 

I would argue that a lot of great artists will be lost to our music scene, under that scenario, and it will be some of the more serious and ambitious and expert artists, who just didn't see the point any more after releasing CD after CD and digging a deeper financial hole.  It's this I'm cautioning against, when people say "what's the harm in illegal downloads?" and "there will always be music for us to listen to."
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: 9dragons on August 16, 2008, 05:26:42 PM
So many angles to this discussion. I've been trying to follow it all, but forgive me if I restate something. I've seen this issue from the perspective of my brother, who is living by gigging, being a hired gun for others, and has only released minimal material on cd. His approach seems opposite from many ambient artists, which is album based. It seems quite difficult to get by from just releasing albums, without backing it up with live performance to promote one's music.

I personally have had to reduce my purchasing of music to the absolute minimun due to financial concerns, which is kind of sad, but it has given me a chance to really listen to the great amount of music I already have. This is actually bringing me to some realizations that I want to address on this very topic. I have purchased a large amount of ambient/electronic albums, in their physical form, and I feel like I have supported the genre to the best of my ability. But I have to say, a lot of it should have been more carefully considered before it was released. There is just too much, and the release of it is not thought out well enough. I think this can be a pitfall in the ambient genre, where albums can be filled in a different and bulkier manner than an album full of more traditionally structured songs. I think there is a temptation there that everything can be released, because ambient is such a nebulous world, and so open to individual interpretation. Full albums of music end up being released that are not carefully considered or well edited. Perhaps quite interesting to the artist during the creation process, but really not offering much in the way of really good and fulflilling listening for the consumer. How many really classic albums in this genre are out there? And how many are just kind of good, well done even, but aren't that distinguished enough from the big names of the genre?

I have not gotten into the idea of free music, perhaps because I am old fashioned, and still cherish the idea of receiving an album in the mail (or the excitement of purchase in an actual record store!), with all the rituals of the packaging and the liner notes and putting the cd in the player. And this makes me realize that to create a real scene that has staying power, we need physical environments, hubs of real activity where people can meet and discuss music, and purchase it. I don't feel that the internet has adequately replaced the corner record store, with its offering of an actual experience and a chance to stumble across an album previously unknown, perhaps through the medium of some striking cover art.

So releases, to continue to appeal to the buyers, need to have great packaging, to have all the ephemera that makes one want to hold it in the hands, and pay money to acquire it. Frankly, a free download just isn't that exciting. The music may be great, but the experience seems diminished. I'll give an example of a recent experience I had. I really wanted the album "World Receiver" by Tetsu Inoue. By a total fluke, turns out my library had a copy. I got it from the library and was going to just burn a copy, when I found that the Infraction label had done a reissue, with their usual stylish packaging. Instead of just burning the album, I decided to get the Infraction release, because it felt more "real" to me. Am I just old fashioned, a prey to nostalgia for art and object? I don't know, but I think there are others out there like me, who are not truly happy with the depersonalized and soulless download experience, but who may also be disenchanted by the slew of less than great independent releases whose packaging is just an afterthought. Why bother sometimes? People pay money for something they value, but if the value starts to fall away, and the product becomes undistinguishable between the physical and the download, then there is no longer a reason even to pay for it. On this front, Hypnos has still remained quite viable to me. The art is stylish and feels expressive of the music; it is well thought out and even the card stock of the insert is of better than average quality. Take for example an album like "Distance to Zero". This is an album that I cherish having in my collection. The whole package contributes to the mystique of the music. I frankly don't think it would be as fun or unique an experience having just a download of this burned to a blank cd (and I can't even use the Ipod example, as I don't have one). And I really feel that I have gotten more out of it than the paltry $12 dollars I paid for it.

Really though, the question of whether musicians should give away free music or not is moot. It is happening, and will continue to happen. But once an artist who is giving music away for free gets good enough, and realizes just how much work they are putting into their music (if they are really serious about it) they will begin to want some kind of monetary return. I'm feeling this same dynamic in the making of visual art. I am giving my art away free to publications, just for the experience and for people to see my art; I have sold original pieces that took months to make, for sums of money that did not even come close to recouping all the time and effort and energy that I put into it; but I am arriving at a point that this is beyond just a hobby, and takes up all of my free time. I love when people see it and enjoy it, but I will not be giving away prints in the future. The original impulse to create, because I am driven to it, and it is one of the main joys of my life is there, and I imagine always will be, but that doesn't preclude the fact that it can gain monetary recompense. That isn't being a sellout, that is just the way of nature. If you want good art and music to enhance your life, you will have to pay for it at some point, in fact the humane response is to want to give back to that artist a fraction of what they have given to you in their hard work and energy.
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: deepspace on August 16, 2008, 10:22:18 PM
Quote
I do think that the big artists (NIN, Radiohead) releasing their music for free do seem a bit-short sighted, and their actions are a big smack upside the head to all of the smaller artists out there, who don't have hordes of supporters.  And I am surprised by that.

One of the reasons that big established artists release free tracks is to promote an upcoming tour.  Years ago bands like the Rolling Stones would tour to promote their new album.  Their income was primarily record sales.  Now this level of performer releases a CD (free or otherwise) to promote the tour.  With ticket sales and merchandise, the tour is the big money-maker for the artist.  Basically, artists like Radiohead and NIN don't need a record company.  After releasing their free tracks, I believe NIN also offered a CD for sale with extra tracks and other paid options.  The free tracks were like advertising (or bait).  Giving away free tracks is great PR for these artists. On one hand they appear to be generous and grateful to their fans, and on the other hand they are probably making more profit.


Radiohead's decision to release "In Rainbows" for free was not simply to advertise their upcoming tour-  to say that is to not realise the slightly pompous way in which they do things.  They are very much into 'indie redemption' and have always been, from the start.  They created the tortured and self-loathing 90's stadium rocker, after all.

This is more about a 'what's next in the history of rock' move, and they see themselves as major players in the evolution of modern rock music.  Which I guess, they probably are.

There's nothing down to earth about Radiohead.  Releasing a free cd for promotion has never been usual for a major label artist.  Tracks yes, but not entire albums.  Radiohead are trying to be the bane of all that is commerce, probably to alleviate some of their own guilt about their vast success.  Now of course, no one blinks if you release an album for free.  Radiohead are saying that they don't need record labels.  Of course, they only achieved their level of success because they were signed to one (and they happened to release several brilliant and genre re-defining records).  So, they are being quite hypocritical.  It's kind of like getting to the moon in a rocket, then blowing it up and saying that you flew there yourself. 
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: solyaris on August 17, 2008, 03:18:44 AM
What I'm sort of "complaining" about, or more accurately cautioning about, is not the individual artist's choice but the macro social trend of large numbers of artists (and even some small labels) doing this, and the cumulative effect that it has.

Hi Mike,

I almost share your talk

We probably both remember wath '60 & '70s,  hve been in pop rock music about labels pivot role in art life-cycle. 

In late '80s & '90s, your Hypnos have been for me the most important source of ambient music.

Nowadays, infortunately, that "macro social trend" is broking the "old" economic cycle, and you could agree that's impossible to get substantial "money gain" for all actors in the chain (the artist, the label, the seller ...); So we have to change paradigma "to survive": the money gain in this moment, worldwide is a mirage for the majoirty;

Quote
I really do believe there are quite a few people who still listen to and enjoy music just like they did ten years ago, but who have virtually stopped paying for any of it, between authorized and unauthorized free downloads.

This concern the big topic of share & communication in our societies.
For example, in last '70 that Genesis & Pink Floyd was the unique music... ?! ... Many people seemed to appreciate in deep this music ...  but was that a real individual passion or a social myth ... a model to follow ...?
Nowadays, people instead download free download of all the "imaginable" .. but indeed people seem superficially enjoy all music ... this is in my opinion something related to the way our societies are going ...
not to the media and internet possibilities ...
The question is: what is better: before '90s or nowadays ... ?
 
Quote from: 9dragons
I frankly don't think it would be as fun or unique an experience having just a download of this burned to a blank cd (and I can't even use the Ipod example, as I don't have one). And I really feel that I have gotten more out of it than the paltry $12 dollars I paid for it.

Just a note about prices, especially in Europe/USA echanges:
in European countries with EUR currency, $12 =nearly 8 EUR.
Two years ago, in a moment of crazyness and richness I bought in a shop in my city in Italy of CD "Equatorial stars" (Fripp & Eno) for nearly 22 EUR =nearly $32 ... (BTW, the music was awful...). Personally, with price of 10 EUR = nearly $14.7 I nearly just cover out-of-pocket expenses (shipping included).
All that for say that exchange rate between continents realize an economical crisis... (it seem a Orwellian quoting but infortunately is the everyday reality ...) bringing a further difficulty in the music selling cycle ...
isn't it ?
 
giorgio
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: petekelly on August 19, 2008, 01:30:39 PM
Speaking for myself as an artist, this is one of the most important developments in the ambient world of
late (and beyond) which I think will make some artists considerably re-consider their practice. For me, I
think Mike has made some very important points / observations (which I agree with) regarding this, and he
certainly pulls no punches in his response to 'Snapping Turtle's post, where he said:

Quote
'...Implying that a huge influx of "free download" amateurs have glutted the ambient music market does
not say anything about whether the genre has peaked. How is one connected to the other?  I think the work
being done by the best artists is as good as it has ever been, but I see no contradiction in asserting
that the average level of quality is dropping due to the huge crowd of less-serious beginners using
Reason or Acid to throw together a few pieces of music and offer it for free download...'   

I wonder how the 'free culture' will change in time after its initial lustre has worn off - the
prevalence of the 'free' may develop into a general apathy / significant lack of quality control which
won't make for a healthy scene for anyone. For example, Where's any kind of sustainability for 'serious'
artists - artists in it for the long-term ? Seren's point regarding nothing being really free is a very
interesting one. Philosophically, nothing is free - in terms of the energy that is put into any project.
Will some artists just give up, if the feedback (alone) isn't sufficient to sustain them ?

My plan is to carry on releasing CD(r)s and just see how things go, whilst also making all my material
available on the (legal) download sites. I'm curious to hear people's experiences of their download sales
vs. CD sales ? I'm finding a much larger audience from iTunes et al and having a relesased a reasonable
number of albums helps.

Lastly, anyone know the arcane workings of Lastfm ? I've noticed that Mirko / Deepspace is pretty active
there.

cheers
Pete
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: MarkM on August 19, 2008, 08:26:27 PM
Quote
I'm curious to hear people's experiences of their download sales
vs. CD sales ? I'm finding a much larger audience from iTunes et al and having a relesased a reasonable
number of albums helps.

I find that CD's are still my biggest seller, but download sales are steadily increasing.  I think most people who like ambient tend to be older and prefer a CD, but in time, I think download sales will prevail.
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: deepspace on August 20, 2008, 06:12:08 AM
Quote

Lastly, anyone know the arcane workings of Lastfm ? I've noticed that Mirko / Deepspace is pretty active
there.

cheers
Pete


Yes, I do use last.fm a bit- Last year I uploaded my files there, and I've had a lot of listeners and scrobbles there since then.  Over 50,000 in fact.  I think you get a lot of mainstream listeners, who stumble across your site and go 'what the heck is this?'  and it creates quite a healthy and open-minded kind of a scene.  Plus there are lots of electronic and ambient fans on there it seems, judging by the plethora of ambient related groups. 

It's pretty clunky and you need to really get in there and bang your head against the wall.  It has that open source bloatware feeling about it.  It feels quite unsteady in that regard, but it's certainly a good place to get your music heard.   There are lots of groups, and after a couple of well place mentions, word can spread quickly about your music, but it depends.  It's a bit like a goldmine.  I think I got lucky with deepspace- people just came and listened, and kept returning.  Some of my other projects haven't been so lucky. :)

here's the page if you want to see:

http://www.last.fm/music/Deepspace




Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: ffcal on February 03, 2009, 12:38:04 AM
Well, now I don't feel so bad about having put off my trip to the dentist's office for so long ;)

Forrest
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: snappingturtle on February 03, 2009, 12:38:57 AM
1.  Why should an undiscovered talent with $800 to their name and no health insurance, end up getting their music buried in history because Steve Roach needed a second house, a new car and some exotic vacation? 

Pissing on an established ambient artist is probably not the best way to bring attention to your new label.  Thought your response to Jim Brenholt's posting in another thread about not being able to download your label's music was a bit harsh, too.  Hard to escape the irony that you are making your arguments on the virtues of your "free" music on the forum of an established ambient label.  Maybe you should consider giving some of your sales royalties to Hypnos for enabling you to publicize your fledgling label.  Best of of luck with your new label, anyway.

Forrest

If an established artist deserves to be pissed on than I will piss on him.  I piss on Picasso every day and that's how I make it by.  Because I speak with a certain tone that you perceive as "harsh" doesn't mean that it was, only that you perceived it that way.  And if I do speak harsh, I don't tuck my inner demons away or work long hours to supress my negativity.  

I'm sure Hypnos has better things to do than worry about Snapping Turtle.  If they are worried about me than I congratulate them for reaching their generous hearts out and if they aren't concerned about me than you would do good to find the meditative irony in a supposedly compassionate genre.

Tell you what, I'll give Hypnos sales royalites from my music when they publicize my music themselves with their bad-ass PR team. Until then, I'll keep rocking the First Amendment- New Snapping Turtle record 'Brave Right Burst' coming out in May 2009.

Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: ffcal on February 03, 2009, 12:47:16 AM
ST - I've already moved on.  I guess if other Forumites want to engage you, they will.

Forrest
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: snappingturtle on February 03, 2009, 01:40:07 AM
ST - I've already moved on.  I guess if other Forumites want to engage you, they will.

Forrest
  Unfortunately, you're the one who engaged me.  If you're going to try and tear down a post, then you should be prepared for a response.   Don't try to rip somebody then limp off down the high-road after you get your philosophical ass handed to you.  It's improper forum etiquette.

Next time you want to give me your opinion about my label send me a PM like a professional, don't post it in public. :)
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: ffcal on February 03, 2009, 01:43:14 AM
Frankly, I think you waited way too long to post your response (several months), and from the tone of your message, you seem to be angling more for a fight than a dialogue.

Forrest
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: snappingturtle on February 03, 2009, 04:19:52 AM
  New labels like Savage Yank can be all 'punk' from their position of relative ease, but I wonder if they would be brave enough, and believe in their releases enough to charge for them.  No?  I thought not.

New labels like Savage Yank can be all 'punk' from their position of relative ease, but I wonder if they would be brave enough, and believe in their releases enough to charge for them.  No?  I thought not.

I would never give our music away for free.  In fact, I feel you'd have to be a fool to do so.  (no offense to the people I previously defended)  Which is why, as what's his name stated, some other what's his name could not download my music for free on Myspace and complained about it. So if anybody cares, I will clarify my previous posting in a more detailed way, since really, I was just exercising my brain by defending a position contrary to my own in my first post.
My position is based in my theories of the Circular Art Economy, but I will keep it brief.  The Art Economy should be circular, in that Art as a whole (in this case music) should always provide a pathway for the less fortunate to become the fortunate.  However, for this circular economy to work (as best exemplified in Hip Hop Business Models), each musician that reaches the top must understand it is their social responsibility to step out of the way to make room for the next Artist on the ladder.
This circular economy fails when Artists at the top, cling to the top, usually because of mishandled personal investments or a general lack of belief in their own capacity to move on to something new, like from musician to producer, or producer to enterpreneur.  (See new Van Halen tour and GNR album)  But like a restaurant failing, the blame is absolutely never the employees fault, but a lack of skilled and decisive management, because the entire structure of human society is based on leadership.  If the ladder comes down, the responsibility must be assumed by those who made it wobble.  If a Circular Art Economy is functional, artists would not have reason to object to begin with, securely knowing that they will all reach the same destination, whether music is free or not.  Simply because its what we believe.  On the other hand, if the Circular Art Economy is malfunctioning, the process of toppling the ladder becomes more appealing and those who choose to walk that path cannot be blamed taking it, since they are but the employees.
I believe the key in the current clilmate is learning to navigate the middle road, for example, our "free cd" was not really free but exchanged for labor- 20 emails to friends and only for a limited time.  To make up for  expected low CD sales, we sell companion visual Art to go along with the music.  So as I stated, this has forced a higher level of creativity.  Any environment can only cause evolution in all aspects: those causing the ladder to wobble can begin to get off of the ladder or those on the bottom can begin to push harder since the ladder is broken. 
So to finish: If the top of the ladder continues to wobble, then I feel Artists should distribute their tracks for free and topple every center of music you can imagine.  On the other hand, if the Circular Art Economy begins to function properly, then every Artist would be successful regardless and should simply wait for cues from management as to what they should be doing right now.
As far as my music goes, I already know inside that I'm the best so whether my music is free or not is irrelevant- if music is worth money then start giving me money for it, if music isn't worth money then lets make it official so I can start making dramatic changes in my lifestyle.
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: bunkdata on February 03, 2009, 02:58:19 PM
Funny that this topic is still kicking up some dust!  ;D 

Not too much to add that I've haven't said here before, but personally, I think it's still worthwhile to release a combination of free/paid releases.  This allows the listener (especailly new ones) to take a chance on your works by downloading free releases and if they enjoy your works, they are more inclined to make a purchase on other releases.

In the market/ecomony we are in right now there is no right/wrong way to 'make it' as an artist.  Everyone wants to be validated and of course receive income for services provided (in this case physical releases).  The real trick nowdays is to find a creative solution to making that happen.  If you are looking for monetary gains to prove your worth as an artist, you are in the wrong genre, SnappingTurtle...  Personally, I'd rather have 500 people download my release than 20 people pay $10 for a release that I will only see $40 profit on (at $2 a release which is good from an artist perspective).  At least I 'know' people have listened to my music that way!  Don't get me wrong, I'd love to change those 500 downloads into full paying listeners, but I'm not going to hold my breath.  I'm just going to continue releasing a mixture of both free and paid releases and see what happens.

My suggestion would be to increase your promotional efforts and get more people interested in your music in other ways be it free downloads, live shows or something else if you want to seriously consider making a living (or decent profit) on music sales.

Just my 2 cents.

Best,
Nathan
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: modulator_esp on February 03, 2009, 04:37:24 PM
I give most of my stuff away for free because music is something I do for fun.

I just like to share my stuff with my friends and anyone else who is interested.

I do make my stuff available on CDR for people who like a physical copy with artwork and to sell at gigs, but I don't really try to sell lots as that makes it too much  like work.
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: snappingturtle on February 03, 2009, 10:03:49 PM
Funny that this topic is still kicking up some dust!  ;D 

In the market/ecomony we are in right now there is no right/wrong way to 'make it' as an artist.  Everyone wants to be validated and of course receive income for services provided (in this case physical releases).  The real trick nowdays is to find a creative solution to making that happen. 

My suggestion would be to increase your promotional efforts and get more people interested in your music in other ways be it free downloads, live shows or something else if you want to seriously consider making a living (or decent profit) on music sales.

Just my 2 cents.

Best,
Nathan

Some great ideas Nathan.  I hadn't really considered the forum a place to kick around business ideas before.  But I'm glad I'm getting into it now.

Do you find that you get more interest in your music directly after live shows with a physical audience, or do you find you can generate more interest by increasing your web advertising?

Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: snappingturtle on February 03, 2009, 10:07:06 PM
I give most of my stuff away for free because music is something I do for fun.

I just like to share my stuff with my friends and anyone else who is interested.

I do make my stuff available on CDR for people who like a physical copy with artwork and to sell at gigs, but I don't really try to sell lots as that makes it too much  like work.

Hey Modulator,

Thanks for the input, it is really sound advice to keep it "fun." 
Title: Re: Should artists distribute their tracks for free?
Post by: bunkdata on February 04, 2009, 08:05:52 AM
Funny that this topic is still kicking up some dust!  ;D 

In the market/ecomony we are in right now there is no right/wrong way to 'make it' as an artist.  Everyone wants to be validated and of course receive income for services provided (in this case physical releases).  The real trick nowdays is to find a creative solution to making that happen. 

My suggestion would be to increase your promotional efforts and get more people interested in your music in other ways be it free downloads, live shows or something else if you want to seriously consider making a living (or decent profit) on music sales.

Just my 2 cents.

Best,
Nathan

Some great ideas Nathan.  I hadn't really considered the forum a place to kick around business ideas before.  But I'm glad I'm getting into it now.

Do you find that you get more interest in your music directly after live shows with a physical audience, or do you find you can generate more interest by increasing your web advertising?



I don't do a lot of live shows and the ones I do are mostly underground so the expsoure is pretty minimal there.  I spend most of my time focused on the web as it has an international scope and can reach the most people with the least amount of effort. 

I'm in the same boat as Modulator, for me, it's a labor of love and I like to have fun with music first and foremost.  It all depends on how much you are willing to invest and how much you are expecting in return.  Now days, the music industry is a hard business everywhere you go!  That doesn't mean there isn't money to be made, it just means you  might have to work harder for it.  For me, I'm just looking to have some fun making and releasing tunes - be it free or for purchase.  If I make a few dollars, kick ass!  If I don't, who cares! 

So, in the end as an artist, I'm going to continue to make music regardless so I'd rather see my music get released 'somewhere' rather than 'nowhere' simply because I require money before I will make it publically available.  That's where I don't get some artists who won't release a few albums for free....

Best,
Nathan