Is Free Music Really Good For Us?

As a musician, it has been interesting to see how the music industry has changed in the past few years. I was deeply saddened when Tower Records closed down. I love sifting through the shelves and discovering what was new from my favorite groups, but I also discovered many new ones that have become favorites. Clearly, how we purchase music has changed, but now bands are rethinking about how they want to work with the music labels.

After reading about the recent announcement that Nine Inch Nails is giving new album away for free as a thank you to fans, I was reminded about an article that came out a few months ago from WIRED that discussed how RadioHead was allowing fans to choose the value of their new album, In Rainbows.

I can’t help but wonder how this impacts emerging groups that are trying to make a name for themselves. Does this create an expectation that music should now be free? Or, that their music is less valuable than a group that is established? I think any musician will vouch that without some sort of compensation this survival of music won’t last long. If people are giving a choice of having to pay for something versus paying, most would choose free. Even I will download and enjoy the free NIN album, and why shouldn’t I. But I have to pose the question, is this really a good thing?

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