NoiseTrade & Musicians Succeed With Free Music

Noisetrade-logoNoiseTrade is a solidly established site focused on helping artists give away music, gather fan info and accept donations. The service grew from a cofounder's experiment with giving away free music and seeing the positive results from building relationships with new and old fans.  Though word has spread, NoiseTrade has a surprisingly low profile given their success to date.

NoiseTrade Widget for High Society Collective

NoiseTrade launched in 2008 inspired by cofounder Derek Webb's 20 years as a singer/songwriter and his own experience of giving away music. Like increasing numbers of musicians, he recognized that pirates were also fans and decided that he should put himself "in the transaction in order to in some way benefit."

So he tried an experiment:

"In 2006 one of our founders, singer/songwriter Derek Webb gave away one of his albums for free online, asking in return for a little information (name, email address, and postal code), and as part of the process for fans to invite their friends to download as well."

"In three month's time Webb gave away over 80,000 full downloads of his album and collected valuable information for as many new fans. In addition, Derek has since seen many sold out shows and increased merchandise and album sales, including a curious spike in sales of the very album that was given for free."

NoiseTrade represents one of many attempts to figure out how to be part of and benefit from free transactions. While some folks just give away music for free and hope for the best, artists taking the NoiseTrade approach understand that gathering basic info in order to facilitate building a relationship is what helps turn free giveaways into paid support.

NoiseTrade generates income by taking 20 percent of tips and selling ads on the site. They're doing well enough that they've shied away from VC interest and intend to continue bootstrapping the company. It sounds like their relatively low profile is going to get a lot bigger as time goes on.

Hypebot Features Writer Clyde Smith maintains his freelance writing hub at Flux Research and blogs at All World Dance and This Business of Blogging. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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1 Comment

  1. Just wanted to add a salient fact here, which might have something to do with the “low profile” – that NoiseTrade was formed and built in Nashville, which doesn’t get covered by the music/tech press as much as it might. Derek and co. are to be commended for executing one of the slickest ideas out there in new music commerce.

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