At the beginning of yesterday's "Monetizing Music in a Free Economy" panel, moderator Nico Marini raised an interesting question: Should music be free?
Turns out, the musicians pretty much thought so -- despite their mostly humble backgrounds.
"I might represent the musician still doing laundry at his parents house," admitted RTB2's Ryan Thomas Becker, while acknowledging that he's still trying to figure out the answer to Martini's query, just as many musicians are. "We're in the between stage of what we'll do next."
Midlake's Eric Pulido agreed: "When I started out I thought you can make a lot of money and get a lot of girls," he said. "Turns out I was wrong on both parts".
It's well-known by now that the way that artists make money off of their music has been changing since the Internet emerged and downloads have become popular. And musicians have been struggling to find the answers since.
How is it possible to entice people to buy things that they can easily get for free?
"I think that the artists that are going to be the more successful are the ones that can afford to give some of their product away," said Joshua Jones, co-founder of Shiner Records "We want to hook people, just like nicotine. We want to hook people on that product."
And recently, that's been the strategy for some record companies -- to get their music heard in any way possible, and then hope that it leads to future sales.
"We're trying to get that music into as many people's hands as possible," said Erv Karwelis, founder of Idol Records, confirming as much, rather bluntly. "We might give away two or three different songs off an album as a download."
But, despite many artists forgoing record labels to record at home, and releasing their free music online, the one thing this panel could definitely agree on was the importance of labels in this murky world.
"I still believe in record labels," said Pulido. "I believe they are necessary."
"Art and business are not exclusive things," he added. "They overlap."
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