Giving Away Music For Free

By: Jerry A. Greene

Question: My band just released a new CD. I was reading about podsafe music and realized that it meant giving our music away for free. I want to get some cheap promotion for the CD, but is giving our music away a good idea?

Answer: Giving your music away some of your music, for free, is one of the best ways to create a viral buzz about your music.

One Song, or A Whole Album?

Giving away a whole album might seem absurd. You may have thought that giving away a single song would be a great way to promote your CD and that's exactly correct, but what you may not realize is that giving a way a full CD's worth of music, can be even better in some cases. Now, I am not suggesting you give away your brand new CD, especially if it's in physical form, but think about putting together a short "live" compilation, available in download form from your website.

CD Promotion With "Less-Than-Perfect" Tracks

You can also put out a "in-the-works" version of some of your songs, like demo tracks (especially if they sound great!). If you video-taped any of your recording sessions, edit a video together and give that away. Anything of value that your fans would love to have, and share with others, is a great way to get the word out about your music.

Promoting Your CD On Internet Radio And Podcasts

You will definitely want to get your music out on internet radio and podcasts. The podsafe music network allows you to post a few of your songs. These songs then become freely available to podcasters, who can play the songs on their shows as long as they give you credit for them. This has worked amazingly well for a lot of bands and new artists. The promotional aspects of this is just mind-boggling! There are also ways to arrange it so that you can also sell the songs as downloads.

Posting Full-Length Streaming Tracks From Your CD

One thing that you'll definitely want to do is allow people to stream songs from your website, and/or your MySpace page. Make sure that you post at least 2 full-length songs from your new CD. One thing that really bothers people, is to hit play on a streaming clip only to hear the song start from somewhere in the middle and cut out after 10 seconds. A lot of bands do that, because they want to give "a tase" of the music and feel that people will buy it if they want the whole thing. Most of the times, it does nothing more than annoy people that may be interested in buying your music. Remember that with the internet, you have a world-wide audience. Not everyone is going to hear of you through a live gig. Giving a couple of songs away, in their entirety, even if just streaming the song, gives people the chance to really hear what you're about.

Use Free Tracks As An Action Step In Your CD Promotions

After you get people to sign up for your mailing list, whether at a gig, or online, give them a chance to download a song that isn't available anywhere else. Again, you can use a "live version", or a song demo. Just make sure that it makes people say "wow!".

Giving people a free song now and then, especially when it is a great one, makes people feel like they just got a present. They also tend to respond by reciprocating (buying your music and telling others about your music). If you send out post-cards to your fans, make sure to include an action step (a special URL from which to download a free song). You'll know how well your mailing works, by looking at your statistics. There are also ways of tracking individual people (by giving a secret code to enter, that matches them up in a database). This way, you'll know who your best fans are, because they will leave a trail of response to your communication with them.