…So i’ve been asked this question probably a million times over the past couple years, and I figure it’s as good a time as any to shed some light on my thoughts. Maybe this will inspire some of you and turn off others, but keep in mind it’s just my opinion and what’s worked for me.
In a nutshell, the biggest hurdle for me in “selling” music was NOT “major labels” or the “music industry” or lack of the “right publicist” or “management” or “booking agency” or “Clear Channel” or radio stations or some invisible alien force designed to derail my career. That’s a common theme among bitter artists, and I think its a bit off of the real issue. I certainly dont think the music industry and Clear Channel have helped independent artists or paved the way for creative innovations to the masses. But regardless, we are all here now and the REALITY I think is that the biggest hurdle is technology!!! iphones and ipods and youtube and facebook and twitter and ping and pandora and bing and zing and whatever else that’s taken people’s attention spans from 10 seconds to less than a nano-second while flooding them with more information than ever.
Here’s a scenario: A typical man sits at his laptop at work or home listening to PANDORA while his buddy shoots him a new music video on YOUTUBE of the latest cutting edge death metal/bluegrass dj from Bulgaria and he downloads it for free from a website that burns youtube tracks free and adds it to his IPOD library of 20,000 songs…and the tune is rocking!!! And then his 10 year old daughter walks downstairs with her new release she made on GARAGEBAND and its even more rocking and he downloads that. And the next day he gets a TWEET about the latest remix and music video from a band from Iceland while he sits on his XBOX with his son who just downloaded his best friend’s video from a Green Day concert onto his IPOD…and around and around we go.
When I started my music career with The Samples in the late ’80’s/early ’90’s, there were “hypothetically” 50,000 bands that you could mostly find out about in Rolling Stone or on MTV(when they played music videos) or on the radio. Today there are probably 100 million zillion bands just in Minneapolis alone, and fans can find them all in a second on their ipod while they’re having cereal at the table(Lucky Charms perhaps).
So in an effort to sneak on that ipod mix with all of the other million zillion artists, I felt like eliminating the purchase factor would be a great first step in getting seen in that nano second of attention span. People are constantly bombarded with “catchy” ads and reviews and sound bites and imagery, and I honestly dont think any of it works. I tried the traditional route with my first 2 releases, hired publicists, signed to 2 different labels and solicited every other record label in existence, management companies, and booking agencies and the result was me staring at boxes full of cd’s in my living room with less than 400 sales(no joke). They made great coffee tables, and I named one of them “Kevin”, but things ran their course. And now since my music has been free, I’ve had thousands of downloads(just hit 12,000) and there’s been a smooth free flow of my songs going directly to the ones who REALLY want to check them out.
I don’t expect my fans to like everything I do, and I’m not worried about the people who haven’t heard of me. But making the music free has eliminated any hurdle for somebody new(and old) to AT LEAST take a listen, kinda like taking the hesitation out of an impulse. There’s no RISK for a first time Mr. Anonymous listen. If you like it great and if not, no worries. And now my fans are really like my own personal record company without even knowing it. They promote my music easily by sharing with their friends, and my tunes get into the ears of the people who really want them and enjoy them… and the music is still available for sale on itunes and cdbaby.com(hard copies of the cd’s) , and I actually sell more now because more people know about the music…all because its free on my website.
…anyways, there it is…enough blabbin!!!