The Struggle Of Selling vs. Giving Away Music [Kosha Dillz]

1Here rapper Kosha Dillz discusses the pros and cons of giving music away for free, with a specific focus on how offering free music can frequently benefit an artist in other less immediate ways by building a positive relationships with fans.

 Guest Post by Kosha Dillz
I am writing this article with the hopes that by giving this music away for free, I will not only experience what it is like to gain thousands of fans, but also let people hear the best music I ever made and guarantee that they will be happy. (since they are not paying) The other side of me balks at the fact that I must give away this music that I spent so much got damn money on. Why would I do such a thing? Here is a different way to go about it. Since I am trying to persuade myself to give a complete full EP away for free that I spent lots of $$$ on, I’d like to know how I will truly benefit from it $$$ in the long run through different avenues and giving it away for free as opposed to selling it online. Feel free to rip this apart, add things to it, take away and make new suggestions. This is a big deal article, because it depends on how much money we like to make!!
1) More listening experience (free and sell)– I am not sure how many albums I have sold online, but I know that it would be an amazing experience for people to come back to my show if they had my music for free.  When you sell it, all the outlets you shop on can stream part of the song.
2) More social interaction online (free) – If you interact or tweet out the link to the album, you will get your album for free. This creates more of a social buzz for your album online , which could lead to Billboard Trending Tracks and other trends. Free DL for tweet via Livemixtapes is popular.
13) Future T-Shirts (free)-While on tour, I would sell 20 dollar t-shirts and give someone a free album. The shirt cost me $5 and the album would cost me around $.75 -$1.50 depending on the project. If I gave the album away, this would also be a way to lure them into purchasing the shirt.
4) Retaining information (sell, free) – Imagine you sell 1000 digital copies of your album. This is $10,000. Lets give up that scenario. Imagine if you give away 5000 copies digital for an email of each download.  Now out of those 5000 emails,  50 people order physical copies ($50 x 10) and 50 buy tickets to your shows  in the next two months at $5 each (50 x$5) and 10 of them order your $50 USB sticks (10 x $50) of all your albums after seeing you perform and 25 ($20x 25) of them buy t-shirts.  10 of them add video of you to their youtube channel which each have 1000+ views on your life performance of _______. But you wouldn't be able to get all those emails if none of them got it for free. You have $1650 vs the $10,000 but if 2 of those people work at a college and book you for $2,000 each at 2 schools, you are really at $5650 vs $10,000.
5) “You Never Know” Theory (sell, free) –  Going back to retaining information , you never know theory is a great theory that always comes into play. If you give it away for free, you get the chance of reaching so many more people and the opportunity to create business through live performance. If someone loves the album and wants to book you, let us.
6) Pay what you want service (sell) - The option to pay what they want is always a great way to actually have it for sale as a “pay what you want” service on band camp. This leaves your true supporters an option to drop $1 or $20 for your new project.
27) What about Spotify? (Sell)  – G-Eazy once had a free mix tape so popular they put it up on iTunes and it still hit #4 on the hip hop chart.  Using tune core to put your album on so many different sites where you can stream your music helps it become a situation to work with these places and leave it up to stream on subscription based service. It enables you a way to engage in the new consumption process.
8) Apple Music Stream (Sell) - If you know people who have mac books, then they sure have apple music. It is a great way to digest new tunes, and by enabling it to sell there (or stream) . Imagine if they come to a show?
9) Gift Cards (sell) - Imagine if you focused marketing all on gift cards? So many kids get presents for holiday season, and shopping on iTunes is simply a habit. I love purchasing music on iTunes from a gift card, and I always have it on my phone.
10) Smiles (sell, free) – Any time I give a CD away for free at a show it literally makes someone's day. The "struggling artist" perception is thrown off and you earn a fan simply on your kind merits. Imagine if you are actually good. If you don’t sell someone a CD but try, sometimes they get turned off. (in my experience)
There must be a ton of things I am missing here. Can you let me know in the comment section. What do you prefer to do and what will help you in the long run? Please put number 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 in the comment section. Let this spark a conversation!

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  1. Give your music away until you are in position to sell for a profit. R&B/POP artist Jardon just recently released new single “Laugh Now” on soundcloud, noisetrade, alldefdigital, and youtube. Follow Jardon on all social media sites @jardonmusic.

  2. Not so sure about this.
    When someone gives me their work for free, I assume it is not very good, and will probably not listen to it, or if I do, will be biased against it already.
    Also, if you train your audience that the value of your music is $0, how do you then change their perceptions to believe it is worth more?
    Also, this doesn’t work if the music is your source of income, that is, are not performing live and selling t-shirts. The value should be in the music.

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