Giving it away for free?

I noticed over the weekend that Brian Eno has released a new 2 CD set of music with recited/sung poetry. It covers many different media being available as a free digital download, a double vinyl album. a double CD set and a book which I assume you have to buy. It’s intriguing for me as it makes the assumption that people will buy an experience and that getting something for free isn’t all it’s made out to be. Many years ago Brian Eno predicted that the only future for selling music would be as a total experience not just the tunes. So he’s true to his word. Anyone who has a vast library of mp3s stuffed into their Ipod will probably have at some time or other felt how impersonal and decontextualised they all are. How different from books stored on my bookshelves with personal dedications from the authors (mostly books etc that I have worked on). The same debate is going on as we speak between the ebook and the printed book. For most people who pirate mp3s off the web they will use an economic argument and I’m with them even though I have a few music albums up there in the cloud for which I will get no royalties. I find these musicians and their record companies are really graspingly stingy wanting to scrape every last penny they believe they are due. The recording companies and their political stooges trying to shut down net piracy know they are on a losing wicket as there will always be a way round their subterfuge..

Which is why Brian Eno’s strategy seems so intelligent and why I would like to do the same with material I have. The Complete Dip in the Ocean (mentioned on an earlier blog) I would like to make available but I need to sell the mp3/CD at a modest price just to facilitate it. I might even resort to burning CDs and packaging them myself as I used to years ago and selling direct to the public but that is very labour intensive. At least that way you get know who is buying what you sell. Self publishing books is rather similar.

About Ian Whiteman

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