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Music Business – Will Downloads Be Free?

My prediction: The good old days, when an artist sold CDs or downloads are going to end soon. Most people listen to music with their mp3 players or mobile phones, so they simply don’t need CDs anymore. Of course, as long there are people who like to listen to vinyl records (a growing trend, by the way) or high quality audio from CDs, some sales will remain. Also, by following bands such as Radiohead, who use a model that lets its fans decide if and how much they’d pay for the band’s music, some sales will remain. As it appears, 62% of people who bought the album chose not to pay anything for the download. So what comes next?

Here’s one business model. Referring to Reuters Universal and Nokia agreed that Universal will give customers buying particular Nokia devices unlimited access to millions of tracks for a year. You buy some equipment and in exchange you will get unlimited access to the Universals music library for one yer and you can keep later all you’ve downloaded.

Now indies (and advertisers), pay attention! Another way is that an artist gets paid (other than from live shows and merchandise activity) from ads appearing on artist’s site(s) or even from the ads appearing on a virtual player which artists and fans can export anywhere on the Internet (MySpace, blogs etc). This will help advertisers, too, because they will reach a larger audience. That kind of business model works today at sites such as reverbnation or popfolio (although popfolio is in beta phase still).

So, most likely it’s a question of time as to when the revenue from ads will be big enough to let an artist give his/her downloads away for free. Be honest, even for an artist who is little known, you can download his/her music for free anyway. Be it legally or not.

How To Get Unlimited Music MP3 Downloads Instantly

Ever wondered how to get unlimited music MP3 downloads? Music lovers probably have asked the same question many times. There are of course dozens of websites that talk about them but not everyone has the luxury to find out and look through the tons of information. The aim of this article is to show you how to find unlimited MP3 downloads and yet do so affordably in the simplest way possible. You will also discover more hot tips about MP3 music downloads.

Unlimited music MP3 downloads can be found at online music stores like iTunes for iPod, and other stores like HMV, Walmart and more. These are music giants and have some of the largest offerings in the world. Though they do not exactly have unlimited music MP3s, their collection often go in the range of millions of songs, music videos, sound tracks, music etc. Normally, it would cost you about 99 cents or below to download per music or song.

Nowadays, some music stores have taken the level of competition a bit further by offering monthly or even yearly memberships. Several offer a limited number of music MP3 downloads while others let you download unlimited number of music MP3 files. This move has totally revolutionized the way music downloads are previously handled. Needless to say, when you can access millions of music MP3 downloads for a small one-time fee, you would be downloading music online whenever you are free. You also need not think twice whether you should download this song or that since you can download both and all.

Everyday, it is estimated that tens of millions of music MP3 downloads take place around the world from these music download sites. Now that we know that there are places to download music MP3s for a lifetime fee, it is best that we also learn how to find a great site to download. There are a few important questions you need to ask before you decide.

1. How many different music genres does the music MP3 download site have?

If I were you, I would subscribe for a music MP3 download site with as many music genres as possible. Your taste for music may change with time. Today, you might like J-pop, tomorrow, it could be hip hop or even classical instrument pieces.

2. How much does it cost to get unlimited music MP3 downloads?

There are music sites that offer lifetime memberships for a one-time price. With this choice, there is no need to go with monthly plans. But even for one-time fee, never go for anything above $50. In fact, the rates nowadays are so reasonable that you can easily grab one that costs you below $40.

3. What are the usage rights for the songs you download?

Not all sites are the same for unlimited music MP3 downloads. Several membership sites allow you to download and burn the music onto CD to be played on other devices while there are others which restrict you to downloading onto your digital player only. Save the trouble by joining sites that give you no-restriction rights.

Once these three questions are properly answered, you would have found the ideal site for unlimited music MP3 downloads. To quicken the whole process, visit my music blog and see for yourself which are the best places for unlimited music MP3 downloads.

Should Artists Give Away ALL Their Music for Free?

Unless you live under a rock, you are likely aware that the music industry has undergone a fundamental shift in the past ten years… or, has it?

Since, oh, let’s say the beginning of Napster–you remember the little file-sharing project designed by one of my fellow Northeastern University alums (well, technically Shawn Fanning dropped out in 1999 so we were only there at the same time for a year), music sales have been in a steady decline. First it was album sales that took a hit, then digital, now the entire idea of purchasing music has become something as antiquated as paying for local TV.

(Hmm, well, actually, that’s even gone since they stopped local analog TV signals on Friday June 12, 2009.)

Well, you get the idea. For children growing up today, the idea that you actually need to enter a credit card into iTUNES, or go to a record store to buy your favorite band’s latest CD is no longer something that even enters their mind.

When I asked my younger family members who are still in high school how they purchase music, I was met with a blank stare.

“What do you mean? You just rip it off of YouTube.”

Oh. I didn’t even know you could do that.

Sure enough, when I tried, I found it quite easy to grab any tune I wanted right from a video on YouTube.

Oh, but surely that’s just a single… if someone truly likes a band they will then go to iTUNES or the band’s website and buy the full album, right?

Well, maybe. But more than likely they will wait until one of their friends acquires the full album, then sends it out to everyone in their address book via email, Dropbox, or any other very simple file sharing method.

Oh, but of course, there are measures that protect against that. DRM… and that thing iTUNES does where you can only play an mp3 you purchased on iTUNES on five registered computers. Sure–that’s something. Yet chances are if a young music listener can’t get an album they want for free with minimal effort, they aren’t about to waste time making an actual purchase. They are going to move onto the next band that sounds fairly similar, and whose album they can stream for free or just download in its entirety for free.

Which brings me to the original question–Should artists give away ALL their music for free?

My vote? An emphatic no.

And here’s why.

When you give something away for free, immediately a consumer lowers the expectation of how good the product is going to be. This is true of ebooks, CDs, movies… pretty much any product.

Free movies on Netflix are NEVER as good as the blockbusters that you have to rent on iTUNES.

If your uncle offers to give you his old car for free, you would naturally assume it’s a lemon… right?

When Radiohead first tried this approach with their album, In Rainbows, offering it up to fans as a “pay what you want” download, they set the stage for major label bands to start giving away their albums. I’m not a huge fan of Radiohead, but my immediate impression was that they must have felt their album wouldn’t have sold that many copies and never would have recouped the millions of dollars of advertising.

For them, it didn’t matter. They already had a major fan base, and were touring the world. For the new band just starting out, it might matter greatly.

Still, my impression of bands that immediately followed suit were that there albums weren’t up to snuff.

Has Springsteen ever given away a free album? Tom Petty? The Beatles? Not to my knowledge. People are willing to pay for quality.

However, for the independent artist trying to make his or her rent, who hasn’t yet hit the level of acclaim as Springsteen or Petty, clearly expecting a public to buy CD’s when they rarely purchase music is a difficult process, to say the least. And those few CD sales might very well mean being able to buy groceries this month.

Solution? There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution just yet. However, the tried and true marketing strategy has been to offer SOME of your products for free to entice new fans, or potential buyers, but not ALL. Giving EVERYTHING you’ve ever done away is a mistake. Yes, you are still fighting an uphill battle in that younger generation expects that your album should be free, however, you are only going to hurt your career by giving it all away.

As they say, “Why marry the cow if you can get the milk for free?”

Er, something like that.

Point it, an artist who is genuine and really produces an album that is worthy of being sold for $15 (it’s gotta be good!) should do all they can to convey this value to prospective fans. Give away a song or two, but not the whole cow.

Oh, and back to my original question once again… is this anything new? No. Back in the day, there was no way to even record sounds. All music was in fact free.