Free Music is the Best Gift of All

September 8, 2009 at 7:48 pm Leave a comment

Few phrases are able to paint a smile on my face quicker than ones containing “free” and “music”. Luckily I’ve been graced with a ton of smiles over the past year with some amazing artists giving away their music as a true gesture of thanks to their fanbase. Bands like Nine Inch Nails, No Doubt, Marilyn Manson, and even Coldplay have brought us some great free music over the past year. These offerings are typically tied in with a related type of campaign concerning advertising or a tour. At first glance, the idea of an artist giving away an album, in whole or in part, may appear to be a pathetic attempt to stir commotion and hype among consumers. While this is true to some extent, it’s never an easy task to implement and in the end, surely reveals itself as a gift rather than a baited hook. Entire campaigns must be put together by a dedicated marketing team who understand both the ins and outs of the business as well as the appreciation of the fans. Similar to MyMojo’s famous street team contests, these campaigns must truly be designed with the fan in mind to create both a rich interactive experience that the fan appreciates and one that is still profitable the artist. After all, the music industry is just that. An industry. No matter how much the artist cares for their fans, if the experience itself doesn’t appear profitable to the record company, it won’t be funded.

I consider the following artists and their campaigns to be the most integral and engaging give-aways that this year has seen.

No Doubt

With the announcement of their reunion back in May, No Doubt publicly offered their entire audio catalog for download by fans who purchased a full priced ticket to their reunion tour. This was a fantastic offering as No Doubt has had a long and lustrous career even outside of the mainstream eye. From their early days as a punk-ska band to their more widely acclaimed hip hop and pop influenced sound, No Doubt has quite an eclectic sound that many were unaware of. Fans are given the ultimate gift and become even more grateful and loyal to the band. Mission Accomplished


Unless you’ve been living under a rock over the past several years, or haven’t been to a coffee shop or public social gathering, you’re obviously well informed of the UK’s international flagship group Coldplay. Coldplay has been putting albums out and touring around the world for the past 6 + years and hasn’t shown even the slightest sign of slowing down. Their arena pop-alternative-rock sound attracts thousands of fans per show, most of which are dedicated and follow news, tour dates, videos, etc. When they decided to give away a mini-live album, titled “Left Right Left Right Left” via download, at the small price of an email address, their official website crashed several times throughout the day due to fan download traffic. Fans who attended the shows received a CD copy of the live album. Everyone is engaged so again everyone wins.

Girl Talk

A more independent yet widely acclaimed artist Greg Gillis a.k.a. “Girl Talk”, released his latest album “Feed The Animals” on a pay-as-you-go basis. The idea behind this move was to attract more attendance to his live performances. Not that he needed the hype, but there’s no reason not to strike while the iron is hot. Girl Talk’s performances are a one-of-a-kind mash up style that blends hip hop, soul, drum and bass, as well as classic hits spanning several decades. Many of his performances are truly unique and chances are if you’ve seen him perform more than once, each time is a truly different experience. However his affiliation with the independent record label Illegal Art allowed for little to no publicity which led to the execution of this campaign. Fans could pay as little as one cent for a free download of his full length album “Feed The Animals”. Other packages were available, and still very affordable, that added perks like higher quality flac files and special merchandise, which many users actually opted for. I found this specific campaign to be my favorite as it seemed the most rewarding and engaging while still allowing the artist to do his job which is to turn a profit for the record label.

These artists have truly allowed us all to “win”. By offering us their loyal fans more of what exactly keeps us loyal. Good Show.



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