A Manifesto For The Future Of Free Music

Posted: March 22, 2015 by Kimberly Weiss in Other Music News
Tags: , , ,

In the thankfully long gone days of DRM downloads it could be fairly said that ‘music was born free yet everywhere it is in chains’. Now it is free of DRM and, for most consumers, of price also. Of course the majority of consumers have always spent most of their time listening to music for free via TV or radio.

But the internet transformed free into something that was every bit as good as the paid for product. So yes, most people have always listened to music for free most of the time, but they listened to what broadcasters decided they would listen to. In the old model free music was something that would sate the appetite of the passive fan but was not be enough for the dedicated fan. Free music thus very clearly played a ‘discovery’ role for the core music fans. On demand free though has changed the equation entirely. For many consumers the free stream is the destination not the discovery journey. So 50 million YouTube views is no longer a marketing success but instead x million lost sales or paid streams.

For younger consumers the picture is particularly stark. 56% stream for free, 65% listen to music radio and 76% watch YouTube music videos. Compare and contrast to over 25s where the rates are 35%, 47% and 76%.   In short, free is more likely to be something that drives spending among over 25s because it is predominately programmed while among under 25’s it is less likely to do so because it is on demand.

Free needs recalibrating. Here are a set of objectives to help fix free, a Manifesto for the Future of Free Music:

 

  • Set the objectives: One of the problems with free is there is too little clarity around what purpose it is meant to serve. And this is because it is simultaneously serving multiple purposes: to monetize the masses (ad supported), to drive sales (discovery), to drive subscriptions (freemium). All three are worthy goals but unchecked each one also competes with the other. A consistent industry vision is needed.
  • Programme more: Free has a massive role to play in digital music, but it needs to better targeted. A super engaged music fan should not be able to sate their on demand appetite on free. In short, free music needs to be less on demand and more programmed. That is not to say YouTube or Soundcloud need to become Pandora, but they do need to explore meeting somewhere midway.

 

Read the rest of the Manifesto for the Future of Free Music:
https://musicindustryblog.wordpress.com/2015/03/06/a-manifesto-for-the-future-of-free-music/

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Comments
  1. Truth filled piece. Nice job Kimberly Weiss. I’d like to see folks spend all that money they’re saving with free music on concert tickets promoting and supporting the artist’s that are being shorted enough money to continue their art. That way the artist’s will also be able to perform what they want in the style they choose. Live shows and live recordings are of the utmost importance since they are so costly and affordable at the same time. It’s not going to sustain itself like this with all of these studio, canned copies. They’re will be Tom Petty’s and Marvin Gaye Estates on every corner claiming they own it all out of desperation. They all owe the Beethoven Estate if there is one. Just saying. . . Keep listening no matter what! Peace

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