There seems to be a general assumption that the music industry is just the latest X factor winner, or is all about people like Simon Cowell. What most people don’t realise, is that this is only about half of the music industry. The other half is made up of independent composers, artists and bands that are not featured in the press or on TV.
We all know that illegal music downloads take place and it is common knowledge that the mainstream music industry has its issues with this. However, if the mainstream industry does decide to give large numbers of downloads for free, you can guarantee that the revenue will be generated elsewhere and that any free music will be promotional in nature to try and get you to purchase other related merchandise. This is evident in the number of “360” deals that are being made, which basically gives the record label a cut of everything the artist does, not just their music sales.
This article is not going to concentrate too much on this issue, that is for the major labels to decide upon, but if you are interested in reading more about it, you can refer to ‘360 Music Deals Become Mandatory As Labels Prepare For Free Music’ by Michael Arrington, which is linked to at the end of this piece.
I am going to be focussing my attention on the individuals and small companies (usually unknown) that provide original music for the majority of the media that we absorb daily, such as website background music, corporate DVD productions, YouTube, software, games, TV, Radio adverts, film etc.
If these people were to give away their music for free, it is exactly the same as you going to work tomorrow and asking not to receive any pay, which is something that you would never do. Creating high quality royalty free music is time consuming and requires talent, skill and experience. A single piece can take weeks if not months for a composer to produce to a high quality. The true cost of this music is a talented person’s time. Independent composers, bands and artists can simply not afford to do this for free.
The only instance I know of where credible composers may work for “free” is when there is some kind of return for their investment of time. They may possibly receive promotional coverage or a profit share on revenue. It is rare though, and in my opinion, a savvy composer should only do this on a limited non-exclusive license. Also, I think it should be called ‘music for promotional use’ instead of “free”.
So, let’s take the question again… Free Music, Who Pays For It?
If the mainstream music industry is to give free downloads, then who pays for it? In short, the record company will aim to get the fans to pay in other ways, such as in concert tickets and other fan related merchandise. In addition, their acts may be expected to take part in a whole host of non-music related activities to raise additional revenue. As mentioned earlier “360” deals allow the record company to take a percentage of all revenue.
Have you noticed lately how many mainstream music acts are on TV adverts and hosting “An audience with…” style shows? This is just the mainstream industry leveraging the potential of an artist’s revenue in new ways.
In the case of independent composers, bands and artists, they can only continue making a living from their music if they are paid. If their music is used for free, it is them that ultimately pay the price. By supporting legitimate licensing of music through Royalty Free Music websites such as Media Music Now, you are helping to support the creative talents of independent music makers worldwide.
“360” Music Deals Become Mandatory As Labels Prepare For Free Music, by Michael Arrington
If you are an independent band or composer you me be interested to know that the founder of Media Music Now, Lee Pritchard, has a new blog www.NewMusicAdvice.com aimed at providing advice for independent composers, bands and artists.