Free music will lead to me spending too much cash

Free music gets a bad rap, more often than not. When a band releases an album for free, it's viewed as "experimental" and "cutting edge." People ask, "How will you make money?" and get their collective you-know-what's in a bunch. And it's really too bad, because free music is a musician's best tool to leverage bucket-loads of cash their way.

Case in point: Weezer. I don't like Weezer. Or, should I say, I didn't. After working for a physical therapy clinic for a summer -- and hearing "Beverly Hills" no less than 50,000 times on the radio -- Rivers and Co. didn't have a chance. I know they were better in the early days but I wasn't exactly motivated to spend time and money searching for such material. I just decided I wasn't a Weezer fan and went on with my life.

Until today. On Twitter, blogger and music connoisseur extraordinaire @christinajacobs pointed me to a compilation of 8-bit Weezer remixes from Pterodactyl Squad (here). I downloaded it (for free) and listened in. I was blown away. Here was "El Scorcho" redone as if it were the soundtrack to Pokemon on my Gameboy. "You Won't Get With Me Tonight" seemingly straight out of Sonic the Hedgehog. I'm a geek for this sort of stuff and was immediately sucked in.

After listening to the entire compilation album three times, I got to wondering what the real songs actually sound like. Sure, I knew a few, but most were unknown to me. So I headed off to iTunes and bought myself a dozen or so Weezer tracks.

Yesterday I would have laughed if you suggested that I would be buying Weezer songs today, but here we are. And why? Because of free music. Sure, it's not the original versions, but I wouldn't have been interested in those even if they were free. Through free remixes, covers and other "goodies," I became a fan.

I think bands can leverage this kind of approach to their advantage. Of course, more established groups will have an easier time of this, but it's not an impossible route for independent groups too. Provide goodies, B-sides, remixes and other "deeper content" for free that, hopefully, influence people to spend money elsewhere (in this case, in the original content).

Of course, to get people interested in the first place your music has to not suck. You'll notice "Beverly Hills" is not included in the 8-bit compilation.


Anonymous said...

I completely agree with this. Not only on other music but on band's merchandise. You might think about buying a Weezer t-shirt if you see it at your local shop or online somewhere. Give music away! If you are on a major label, run away and give your music away because they won't have anything to do with this model.