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Why Bands Should Not Sell Their Album As A Digital Download

If you’re a band trying to decide whether to sell your music digitally or offer it online for free with an optional donation link (Radiohead/Trent Reznor style), listen up!

I keep hearing that bands like Radiohead or NIN were only successful with the digital model of music distribution because they already had a big enough fan base. They say the model won’t work for smaller bands because their fan base hasn’t developed yet. I have no idea what these people are thinking!

I see smaller bands benefiting more because they really have nothing to lose. After all, the number one stumbling block for new artists is getting their music out there! What better way than to offer it for free!

So how exactly can a band benefit from this method of distribution?

Well, if you actually encourage people to download your albums while offering a donation option that allows them to determine how much it’s worth, you’ll achieve:

1) Your music reaches people who want to hear your style of music. How do I know this? It makes sense: If you make something more accessible and FREE, it will attract more people!

2) As your music reaches more people through free digital downloads, more people will see you play, not only in your home town, but on tour as well. Remember: none of this can happen if you don’t release your music first! Also, your true, die-hard fans will still buy records and T-shirts either online or at one of your shows.

The group Bomb the Music Industry is a perfect example of the success of this strategy. On their MySpace profile, they allow fans to DOWNLOAD THE FULL ALBUM FOR FREE! As a result, they achieved more than 300,000 profile views, which means more people participated in their show. Just take a look at how many shows they’ve booked just by visiting their Myspace page!

Obviously, all bands should follow this direction, regardless of their level of popularity. The alternative is a long, drawn-out battle with your fans and technology… a lose-lose situation! It’s time for musicians to open up to the alternative of distributing their music. And please don’t forget to play as many age-appropriate shows as possible! Don’t forget we were all just little punk kids once.

Take care of yourself,

Steve Longoria

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