Giving Away Your Music For Free?!

Giving Away Your Music For Free

The Power Of Free

A while back I had the opportunity of spending an evening with Finn Harries (twin brother to Jack Harries and co-creator of the YouTube channel JacksGap). We had a lovely time with him having interesting discussions, one of them being about a particular book called, 'The Curve'. Finn was explaining to us, that with a particular business model, the game company Supercell (creator of Clash of Clans) make over $1 million a day.

This is an insane amount of money, but can you guess how they achieved this? By giving away their product for free. At first I didn't understand, how can a game company make over $1 million a day by 'selling' their game on the app store for $0? Obviously there's more to it, in the book 'The Curve' Lovell talks about building a relationship with your customers to the point that they become 'superfans'. A superfan is an enthusiastic person who loves everything that you put out and is willing to spend a lot of money on you or the product. Although the game is given away for free on the app store, there are in-app purchases that allow superfans to spend their hard earned money in the game. This is how the Supercell has taken advantage of 'the power of free.'

From Freeloaders To Superfans

The very reason Lovell recommends giving away your products for free is to give it more of a chance for it to be seen or heard in this age of information, allowing you to reach the widest possible audience. Once you've built a community around it, nurture the relationship with the customers and fans. Let them grow with you and encourage them to go buy other products or services that they perceive are of high value.

Author and Editor, Kevin Kelly, talks about something similar in his article 1000 True Fans. It's a great read which explains how all you really need are 1000 loyal fans (or superfans) to continually buy anything you put out. They'll help fund your lifestyle and allow you to keep working and keep creating.

How Does This Work For My Music Career?

So how can you implement this thinking of 'free' into your own music career you ask? For all the artists and musicians out there, Lovell gives some interesting advice:

Give your music away for free. Build a community relationship with customers using your website, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and any other channel that gives you access to your customers. Encourage your fans to share your music legally by making it available on YouTube, Spotify and other online services. Make it possible to buy your music legally in as much of the world as you can. Create bespoke physical artefacts (albums, T-shirts, hand-crafted this and artisan that) that discerning fans will value as an expression of who they are. Use events (Kickstarter campaigns, music tours, releases of art books that inspired you, anything) to create a moment in time that your fans can get behind and support. Tour, by all means, but create the bespoke high-end elements that some people will pay for. If you want to get $10,000 out of a single person, be inventive. Amanda Palmer allowed Kickstarter pledgers to pay her $10,000 to paint them clothed or nude. No one knew if it would work, and Palmer made it a limited edition of just ten pledges, but managed to sell only two. But she would never have known if she hadn’t experimented, and her campaign would have been $20,000 poorer.
— The Curve, N. Lovell (2013)

You can't deny what Lovell recommends is an interesting topic, the power of free could potentially generate millions for you if you do it right. For artists who struggle with getting their work seen maybe the answer is giving away your music for free first? Allow your fans to see your work, and once you have their attention, grow that relationship so that they become superfans. Give them reason to go support you no matter what music you sell, merchandise you put out or the shows you perform in. 

Do you have any musician friends, or family members who you think could do with this information? It's quite a new way of thinking and some people aren't turned on to the power of free just yet. Share this article with anyone you think could do with connecting more with their audience, let them understand the power of free to allow them to create an income from what they love to do. 

The book, 'The Curve: From Freeloaders into Superfans' is a great read and highly recommended, not only for artists, this model can be implemented with all types of businesses. I only scratched the surface, Lovell goes into more detail and gives you more ideas on how to harness the power of free. You can grab a copy of the book here;

Let me know what you think about this article, I'd love to hear your thoughts whether you agree or disagree about giving your music away for free.