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SHOULD YOUR MUSIC HAVE FREE DOWNLOADS?

Should Your Music Have Free Downloads?

Photo Credits: Alessandro Scaparro

Written by Omari MC

All musicians face this dilemma. You want to give away some of your music for free so people will listen to it and share it with their friends.

You almost feel awkward asking for money when you first start out making music, but at the end of the day, you HAVE to make money if you want music to be your full-time occupation one day.

Let's not forget that YOU paid to have your music recorded. You had to pay for a mic, or studio time, pay for lessons and training, and you work reallyyyy hard creating your music.

DON'T FORGET HOW MUCH YOU SPEND CREATING YOUR MUSIC

I've certainly had more than one artists tell me they just 'like making music', and they're not sure if they want to sell it because they believe it would ruin the fun aspect.

I'm not saying they're wrong for believing that, but you have to realize you have a HOBBY if that is your mindset. Music isn't that serious to you if you don't want to do it full-time. You have to generate revenue if you want it to pay the bills (it's not rocket science).

The money you earn back from music sales is a return on investment (R.O.I.). If you're a more serious artist or producer, you have to be cautious of handing out all of your music for free.

WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR FREE DOWNLOADS

If all your music is on Soundcloud (not including tagged beats for producers), then it's already free. I don't know how artists don't realize that.

SoundCloud has an app. I download it and stream as much music as I want for 0 dollars and 0 cents. I have no motivation to buy a song just because it has an iTunes link below it; therefore, if you're going to post the whole song and want people to download, you HAVE to get something in return for it. A SoundCloud follow, Facebook like, Twitter follow, YouTube subscribe, or email signup.

People who download your music are your core fans. Why wouldn't they want to follow you on Facebook or sign up for your email list anyway?

THE RESTRUCTURED FREE DOWNLOAD

How do you carry out the actions to get that SoundCloud or Twitter follow?

Click.dj is one that I see DJ's use frequently on SoundCloud. This allows you to get a Soundcloud, Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram follow in exchange for a download.

This still doesn't mean all your songs should be free though. You getting a YouTube subscriber doesn't translate into income.

CHECKLIST

In conclusion, here's what you should remember about giving out free downloads with your music.

1. Personally, I'd only have select songs available for free download. If you think all your music should be free, so will your fans!

2. If you do want to have a plethora of free downloads, use Click.dj or a similar service to at the very least get a SoundCloud follow from the fans.

3. Remember that telling people your music is on iTunes isn't SELLING it to them. All that does is make them aware they can buy it. Big difference.

4. You really want to get an email address if you can in exchange for free downloads. However, this takes some work to set up efficiently (much more than I can describe in a blog post).

5. The goal is to get SOMETHING from your listener so you'll be able to keep in touch with them. If they download your songs without following you on some platform, they won't necessarily be aware of when your new songs are being released.

Make it as easy as possible for people to find your music, but be smart about it.

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