By producing and promoting your work online, you must develop a strategy for free. I learned this from Chris Anderson who popularized the term, â€œThe Long Tail.â€ He is now writing a book about theÂ economy of free.
This year, we sawÂ RadioheadÂ lead the way in free by â€œgiving awayâ€ their music. By allowing fans to set the price tag, or even download the work for free, Radiohead made a statement about the distribution of art. On the internet, distribution is essentially free. With a good strategy, you can post and distribute with greater ease. And people might or might not pay for it. And why should they?
Recently, Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails followed suit by offering free downloads of his music. Before this initiative, he has actively encouraged his fans during shows to download his music for free:Â Wendy DavisÂ writes, â€œLast year, at a concert in Australia, he urged fans to download his groupâ€™s tracks from file-sharing sites rather than pay what his label charged instead of paying for it on CD.â€
Trent Reznor also produced Saul Williamsâ€™ album â€œNiggy Tardust,â€ and offered the fans aÂ pay-what-you-wantÂ system. According to Wendy Davisâ€™ article, theÂ results were mixed. Only 18% of people who downloaded the album paid anything.
However, it greatly increased Saul Williams exposure. His last album sold 34,000 copies, while â€œNiggy Tardustâ€ sold 28,000. On the other hand, there were a total of 154,000 downloads accounted. Thatâ€™s five times the number of his past album. Considering Saulâ€™s label took a cut of the 34,000 albums sold, Saul actually made more money on his new album.
Perhaps Free ainâ€™t so bad, afterall.