I once wrote this piece: FREE MUSIC.
And even though I still do believe in what I said there, I have to review some points as life taught me new things about making music available for free.
So take this as a lovely 3-point addition to that article.
Point #1: Discrediting your art.
In fact, giving away your music for free will make it look worthless. And this may damage your image as well. A lot of people will tend to think your music has no real value to you, that’s why it’s available for free. Hence if it has no value for you then it means nothing to them as well.
The trick here is to go for a “name your price option” (you Bandcamp user will understand me!), even if you decide to enter 0 as a starting price. However a little pledge, like 1€, would be strongly suggested in most of the cases.
Of course if you’re a total newbie you’d want to skip this point. The reason is you still have nothing to damage, but your only purpose should be to spread out your stuff as wide as possible.
Point #2: Deterring the listeners.
This may be a little tricky, so pay attention.
In fact, if your album is free it seems so obvious people will love it. But I’m afraid it’s not really how it works. A great part of the audience will only grab your fancy little album because, guess what, it is free. Even if they weren’t actually interested in it.
What they will do next is to store it in their hard drives amongst many others, and possibly forget about that. Maybe without ever playing it once.
Otherwise, if they have to open up their pockets in order to get your music, they will remember that. Sure they will! Eventually they won’t forget to give your record a decent listen, at least.
After all, point #2 is quite similar to the first one. In fact they’re both about assigning a certain value to your music and make it worthwhile for others to care about.
Point #3: Do not overcharge downloads. Ever.
It does look upsetting when I see a Bandcamp page, with the band selling CDs at 10€, which is fair, and downloads at 7€, which is totally not!
I understand you’re trying to converge people to the physical one, still you’re doing it in the dumbest way!
I think, in my humble opinion, a fair price for digital downloads would be somewhere between 3/4€ for an entire album. More is just offensive, in most of the cases, when compared to the physical press. Less could be even better for most of the bands out there.
What really matters is that you must understand the benefits of having a good-working digital store. Digital downloads don’t require a stock. They’re just endless copies for you to sell. You don’t have to put money in advance for making them, you must buy the physical copies before you can sell ’em instead.
Also, whether it may sound weird to some of you, certain people just love digital music (I do not understand them but they exist 😉 ). And more often than not, they are likely gonna buy a lot of that from you, if you can keep it affordable.
And for the Bandcamp users, don’t forget to check the “name your price” box. It is simply the most powerful tool out of your armoury.
I know, there are a lot of chances I will write a “re-reloaded article”. But, till then these are the most updated suggestions I can give you, in addition to the first part of the article.