Many indie bands complain about the prevalence of torrents, and the fact that it’s difficult to make any money from music these days. There’s a famous saying that goes “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!”, and it’s never been more appropriate than in today’s music industry, if you can call it an industry. To succeed in the future, you must aggressively give away free music now.
The best way to progress is one foot ahead of the other. Don’t even worry about the industry or breaking in anywhere until you build a strong fanbase. Once you have that, you have the power. Don’t beg the industry for a bone. Build your fanbase and you’ve built your own small empire to sell to.
The trick to making money as an indie band is it won’t happen for a while. Let go of the idea of selling $10 CD’s and $25 t-shirts to thousands of fans. Offer something for free – preferably your full album for digital download.
“What did he say? Is he implying that we take down our 30 second poor quality previews and give away a high quality download of our album for free?”
I’m not just saying that. I’m saying you should advertise it. And this is only to get you on the playing field.
Here’s a news flash. If you’re one of those bands who releases one mp3 to the public, no one is interested. People want your product and they want it for free. If you don’t offer it, they will Google search for a torrent of your album. If they can’t find a reliable one, they will move on to the next band. Think about that. Those are the cold, hard facts. Do you want to be on this person’s playlist or not? Being paid is not an option in this case. You never know who they might turn on to your music.
Be your own torrent site. On your official website, you should offer your full CD in high quality in exchange for an email address or mailing list signup. This way, you build your fanbase as your music is downloaded. Tag your website with relevant keywords such as “free music” and “torrent download”. Then advertise. There are many blogs and music websites who will post your link and talk about your album specifically because it’s free. Take advantage of this. Draft a news release about your free album and send it to all the independent music news sources. Any post about your band in the music press can now mention your free album and where to get it. Plan on building a huge mailing list and a dedicated fanbase you would have never had otherwise.
Once you have the fanbase, you have the power. You’ve built your own community on the strength of your music, and a percentage of these people will want to buy products from you – deluxe packages with autographed posters, underwear, hoodies, vinyl, a poetry book, remix albums and unreleased tracks. Be creative. Once your fanbase is there, selling physical items are a definite possibility. The problem is that most indie bands want to move backwards and sell first. You can beat them and the torrent sites by setting up your own torrents.