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How music can be free and still make money

If you believe many of the music industry's executives, you'd assume that there's absolutely no way for artists to make money while giving away songs for free. Yet as this post on Techdirt points out, ideas for non-traditional forms of compensation have been around for years--it's just that few people had taken them seriously.


But talk of alternative compensation--which can include everything from personalized songs to merchandise marketing--has been making the rounds during Grammys week. Forbes yesterday cited the case of 2005 Grammy winner Maria Schneider, the first artist to produce her work through a new network called ArtistShare, which "enlists fans to fund an album in exchange for an insider's look at the creative process." (Schneider has scheduled a live concert in Pittsburgh as part of the deal.)

As illegal downloads continue to grow despite various crackdown efforts, innovative ventures like ArtistShare may not be so easily dismissed.

Blog community response:

"Rather than the universally desirable 'monetization of conduct' and the 'flat fee licensing' of P2P networks (yep, this could have been done back in 1999!), the biggest thing to really happen in music, in 2005, was Podcasting--for which most music is, once again, not made available or licensed at this time, with the exception of some recent and very laudable first steps by AIM in the UK). What does that tell you? Imho, it confirms that indeed very few initiatives for significant change are coming from within the industry; almost every major change seems to be coming from the outside."
--The Future of Music

"Maria Schneider went to ArtistShare after being frustrated with several labels' work with her previous albums. The response was so great (and the first album she made money on) that she's due to release a second album via ArtistShare. I am loving the fact that good artists can be successful with out a major label screwing them over."
--Living in the Whine Country

"Back in the days (circa 1996) when I was partnering with world class record producer Nik Venet, we always noticed that the people who invested in the music project were very fascinated by the process. When Nik started working with Linda Rondstadt in the early 1960's to produce Different Drum I am very positive that there was a real passion in developing Linda the same way that artistShare developed Maria Schneider. The difference is that the 'audience' through financial contributions was able to participate in the creative."
--What's Out Next