Free music is everywhere – often times expected by fans. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your next release.
Put Together a Quality Product
“The first step for us (at Humble Beast) is making sure we still put together a quality product without cutting any corners. Sometimes there are budget constraints but overall we try to give each release special attention and aim for the best possible product. That’s a huge component of our model at Humble Beast. Often times people think of “free” as “cheap” or “leftovers”. Consistency & quality control has been an important factor for us.” – Braille (Humble Beast)
If your product isn’t up to par, nothing else you do will matter.
“Don’t give me a Mediafire link today and a Hulkshare link tomorrow. Give your fans a place that they can come back to in the future.” – Colin Landforce (LTRMN)
Simplicity is key. Giving fans a centralized location to find your music makes it easy for them to share your music. Imagine if your favorite restaurant changed location every week? How often would you find somewhere else to eat instead of taking the time to search for their new location?
The confused mind always says no.
Hire a Publicist
“The most effective way to put out free music is to hire a publicist to work the music and get exclusives through blogs and magazine.” – Onry Ozzborn
Hiring a publicist is a great way to get your music heard by blogs and magazines who may not give it a chance otherwise. Some bloggers receive THOUSANDS of emails a day with links to new music, having a publicist available to leverage their relationships is a great way to help you fight your way through the clutter.
Quality Over Quantity
“Sometimes you’re better off putting all your resources into making one song as good as it can be. And by that I don’t just mean the song, but the whole presentation of it. Releasing a single can be a lot more detailed than just uploading it to Soundcloud and tweeting about it for a week. Get a cover made for the single, get it mixed/mastered properly, get one or two paragraphs written that tell the story of the song and why you wrote it, have the song hosted on your own website or blog and make it available for free download, sending it to every press outlet you can find but read the submission policies first. Don’t try to spam strangers. It rarely ever works. Mobilize your fan base to help spread the word for you.” – Braille
Learn From Others
“There is also an artist from Portland… Josh Garrels. He released an album and made it available for free for the first year of the release and got over 100,000 downloads. His record got more attention and he was able to build a larger following by releasing it for free in that situation.” – Braille
Learn from what is working for others, but don’t copy their formula entirely. Everyone’s situation is different. Make the things that make you different work for you.
Be Socially Responsible
“Don’t Tweet your Mediafire or Hulkshare link 50 times a day. Pretend there’s a better way.” – Colin Landforce
Imagine if your Coke tweeted “Try Coke!”, “For everyone who hasn’t tried Coke yet, go try it!”, “C’mon, go drink some Coke!” all day. People would get annoyed and lose interest quickly. Same rules apply to artists. Resist the trap.
“Set goals so you’re not just aiming blind. For example, if you set a goal to get 10,000 downloads of your single see how close you get to your goal. Success is great but you also learn a lot from failures. If you fail to get 10,000 downloads it will help you to realize what kind of effort it might take to reach that goal next time.” – Braille
Give yourself some time to create a demand for your music. Put together cover art and send an email out to your fans letting them know you have a new single coming in a week with a link they can share with all of their friends. If there’s a story behind the song, share it!
Also, set a date and make sure you give yourself enough time to deal with bumps in the road that WILL be there.
Don’t forget about iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc.
Independent distribution companies such as CD Baby make it very easy for artists to be everywhere, and being easy to find is the goal.
These services also make it possible for your fans to support your music.
Don’t Do It
Something else to consider, is that releasing music for free might not be the best option. You invest a lot of money in your project. Why shouldn’t you be getting paid for your investment?