It’s important to understand that free is not new to the music business. Labels traditionally used free performances by their artists and free goods to retail (referred to as “cleans”) to drive early sales or create a buzz for a new artist or album. Of course, at a certain point the free goods would be discontinued, or the single would be cut out after achieving a certain level of success, with the goal of driving album sales and creating profits for the artist and the label.
Know that if you waive performance or other royalties in exchange for “promotional value” you may be putting the final nail in your coffin (at worst) or allowing others to profit on your music (by building their own business models and taking your audiences and selling advertising or subscriptions) while you make nothing tangible in return (at least). The emerging and growing income streams presented by, for example, SoundExchange for performance rights of your music on non-terrestrial broadcasts, minimum per stream royalties, ad rev splits, and other alternative income from licensing the use of music is no longer ancillary income but rather is replacement income for the shrinking sales figures that are affecting many independent labels (it’s a myth that declines in music sales are only impacting major labels).