Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Why I give away my music for free

In the past six years, since I started releasing music under the artistname alionsonny, one question has been asked over and over again: Why do I give away my music for free instead of selling it? I want to answer this question in this article.

First of all: Some nasty folks claimed that the reason is, that my music was so bad, that I had no chance at all to sell it. Of cause I do not share that opinion. What sense would it make to release music if I had the opinion it was bad music? Additionally, the many thousands of downloads of my music speak louder than words. Because it is possible to listen to every song before downloading it, it is also not true if people claim that those downloads were just made to check the music. Who would download a song, if he thinks it is bad after listening to it?

The main reason that I give away my music for free lies in the fact that I am firmly convinced that it should never be mandatory to pay for being able to enjoy art and culture. The artist has never payed a single cent for his gift to be able to create art and so it is simply not ok to to mandatory require money for the fruits of this gift. There are many people who can not afford to pay money for music. My opinion is that the decision whether or how much to pay should be left to the people. I once referred to me as the "busker of the Internet". I have spent some time as street musician and felt it to be extremely nice when people have voluntary gave a donation for my work to me. I feel this voluntary giving as a much greater confirmation than as if I had forced the people to pay.

I also think that if one sees art as some kind of a dayjob, creativity, and thus the art itself is no longer the main driving force of creating art. This kills creativity and thus the art. Take for example the music industry. They usually publish only "what sells". This means that only what a large majority is willing to buy is to be published. The majority of the record companies will produce only sign an artist, who produces so-called mainstream music. The record companies decide what will be produced and published, based on sales experience of the past, because nobody can predict what will possibly sell good in the future. But how can a music of the future can be created if the record companies solely decide based on sales numbers of the past? I have seen many artists who started with promising concepts and great creativity, which had one or two big hits and after they signed with a record label, they were forced by the label to produce slightly modified copies of those hit singles instead of really new songs. You can not even blame the record companies for what they do. Record companies are profit-oriented businesses. For them everything depends on sales and not on artistic standards and creativity.

However, this has a fatal consequence: The music industry has such a market power, that artists who did not sign a contract with a big record label have little or no chance of being noticed by the audience. What most of the people are listening to and buy is, what is on the television and radio etc.. Radio and television stations are also business enterprises and require loads of money for artist promotion. And the music industry has the money to pay them. But no unsihned independent artis has so much cash. No independent artist can keep up with the monetary power of the music industry. No independent musician has a million budget for advertising. My favorite comparison is between a poor and a rich merchant in a market. The rich merchants has an expensive sound system with which he can draw attention to its products, while the poorer merchant relies solely on his voice. The products of the poorer trader can be as good or even better than those of the rich merchant and he may also have a very loud voice. Against the sound system he just can not compete. So he remains poor, because buyers do not even notice him and his products.

Because of that situation, some of my critics are right when they say that I have no chance against the overwhelming uniformity of industrial productions. I can not keep up with the aggressive marketing of the industry, which is backed up with large advertising budgets. I can do as much as I can much to make my music known to the public, it will not change the big picture. And yes, those who say that I allready capitulated. IF I wanted to make a living with my music, I must somehow get a minimum of money out of my works which enables me to pay my rent and food. And if even not that small ammount of cash comes in, what sense does it make to make it mandatory to pay for downloading my music.

For this reason, I ask all those who love my music, to donate some cash from time to time. It shows me the fact that you like what I do. It is very easy because you can donate via Paypal. If you do not like Paypal, or don't want to use it for any other reason, you can also transfer the donation to my bank account.

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