Do you give fans the chance to buy your music? Or do you offer everything you have for free?
This is something I touched on briefly before in this popular guide, but not fully. My hope is that this topic will help shift the mentality of any musician looking to make something of their music. If you feel it does, then please share this round with any other musician that you know.
You should always give fans the opportunity to buy your music! – Tweet This
Today I’m going to look at why this is.
Now I’m not saying that by putting your songs up for sale you’ll instantly make a lot of sales. The truth is, even when you have a mix of free and paid songs out there, a lot of people will stick to the freebies. And that’s alright; that side of your fanbase can help in other ways.
But having your music for sales will allow the people who want to buy be able to. And believe it or not, you will come across people who actually want to spend money on your music.
So, here are a few big reasons why you need to offer a good percentage of your music up for sale.
Not Selling Your Music Cheapens Your Brand
With every move you make in your music career, you should be thinking about your brand. Your brand is your image, and the way people see you.
While some things to do with your brand are out of your control, there are a lot of aspects about it which you can control. This one of them.
When people see that something is being offered for free or for a price below what is expected, they often associate it with being not as good as the alternatives, or of a low quality. If however they see that something is priced more than the average, they naturally assume that it’s going to be of a better quality than the rest, and is something worth paying more attention to.
By offering all your music for free and not giving fans the chance to buy, you’re lowering the perceived value of your music. You want to show fans (and other music industry figures) you’re something different from the rest, and that your music is actually worth paying for.
Show you believe in what you have to offer, as if you don’t, you can’t expect others to either.
Too Much Free Music Trains Fans Not To Buy
Another reason you should allow fans to buy from day one is that it ‘trains’ them to expect this.
Think about it; if another musician gave you their first 20 songs out for free, but then put out their 21st song for a price, would you buy it? Or would you wait till their next release as it’ll probably be free as well? While some people would buy, the majority wouldn’t. After all, you’ve made them associate your music with being something that’s freely obtainable. So you’ve built yourself a fanbase of freebie hunters.
While these fans can be useful to help with promo etc, they’re not your core buying audience. It’s your job to identify your buyers, and keep them happy. They will be the people who keep you in (the music) business for the long run.
So stop teaching people that your music is a free resource only, and start finding your buying fans.
You Will Loses Out On Money
Lastly, giving all your music away for free will lose you money. Not only in the short term when you lose out on sales you would have otherwise made, but also in the long term when you haven’t been spending time identifying those fans that will buy from you.
The thing with giving out free music is it becomes a hard cycle to break out of. You do it, and after a few months (if you’re being consistent) you start to see some results for your efforts. If you then decide to charge for some of your music, your results will instantly go down as you haven’t built up a buying side to your audience. This then feels like a failure, so you go back to the ‘forever free’ model. This stage of things will probably go on for a while, and it’ll take longer to make sales from your music.
Of course you could be earning money from gigs at this stage, but you could be earning even more via direct music sales as well. So don’t fall into this trap.
Giving all your music for free can not only directly reduce the money you make from music, but also indirectly as well. You don’t want to brand yourself as just another musician who has to give all their music out for free, you want to show you’re someone worth buying into. That, plus you shouldn’t be leaving money on the table. 🙂
Feel free to offer some free music in exchange for a email address or something similar, but give fans the option to buy from you too.