More Free Music: Windows 7 And ReverbNation, RCRD LBL And MySpace Music

image from www.google.com Does Free Music Still Have Value?

A free sample track to share has become the price of entry for every new artist as well as many more established acts. But will giving away music free still have value if everyone is doing it? The music industry may be close to finding out as to more players jump further onto the free music bandwagon.

Microsoft Windows 7 has just announced a second round of their Windows Sponsored Songs partnership with ReverbNation. This time it is called “Playlist 7” and has a few twists. They're still giving away free music, but now followers on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter also get special access to a weekly pool of 50 Featured Artists. They can download up to 7 of these songs free, and those downloads help decide which artists will be available for others the following week. More here.

MySpace Music has partnered with the music discovery site and digital label RCRD LBL for RCRD of the Day. This exclusive free, daily music download will be available only on MySpace Music. RCRD of the Day is the first result of a collaborative relationship between RCRD LBL and MySpace. Thursday's free track is the Cold War Kids available here.


While both relationships are smart for each of the partners, are they good for the artists?

There is little doubt that artists need to to participate in these kind programs. Their promotional value, even if diluted, is far better than total obscurity.

But the real long term power of free is as a sample that is tied to a greater opportunity. When an artist trades a track for an email address, they receive the opportunity to continue to talk to the fan.  When an act plays a free show, they have the chance to sell them merchandise. When a track is given away via the artist's own site they're given a chance to say in effect say, "Here is my online home. Come visit again".

Good music can serve as a connector. But if the plethora of companies asking musicians to give away free music wants to deliver value, they'll need to help their visitors become fans of the music as well as fans of their brands.

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  1. Hey Bruce,
    Just wanted to clarify that in addition to the exposure and promotional value of being in the Playlist 7 program, EVERY artist in the program gets paid real money (that is if you can still count the falling US Dollar as real money). On top of that, the 7 Artists chosen by the crowd each week receive an additional cash bonus for being selected.
    We understand that an Artist can’t eat ‘promotion’ for lunch, nor put ‘exposure’ in their gas tank. Artists deserve to earn a living. That’s why the Sponsored Songs and Playlist 7 programs both include a cash AND promotion element.
    Also, you made this insightful comment:
    “But if the plethora of companies asking musicians to give away free music wants to deliver value, they’ll need to help their visitors become fans of the music as well as fans of their brands.”
    As you know, we agree with that sentiment wholeheartedly. We preach it to our users and build technology that allows them to trade their content for email addresses and relationships with fans. As a result, you will see a ‘become a fan’ link next to every Artist in the Playlist 7 program that prompts fans to join their mailing lists.
    I think the questions you are asking are the right ones. Giving away free content and getting nothing in return is rarely a winning strategy (although it can be the right choice sometimes). Artists need to be able to exchange their content for money, fan relationships, or both. Our goal is to provide them with these options.
    Jed Carlson
    Co-Founder, COO, ReverbNation.com

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