Should you give your work away for free?
This is something I have experienced, felt and thought about for a while. I was even considering giving my new album away for free but then something stopped me and made me think. If I don't place a value on my work, how can I expect others to? I don't have the luxury of a big label, massive marketing resources or any way for me to really overtly promote my work. I just go from person to person, gig by gig, exhibition to exhibition.
The good thing about the internet is that it provides such a huge platform for artists and musicians to promote themselves but it has also eradicated the line between professional artists and hobbyists. So how can you make your way when there are so many people around you doing a similar thing? The answer that has been given to me is to give away your best work for free. But if you give away your best work do you then linger in a space of overt hope for someone to but what's left? Once someone has had the best of you for free are they really going to pay for anything else?
I believe wholeheartedly that artists deserve to get paid for their work. They should be paid for gigs, their albums and their artwork. There is always a bit of give and take with any industry and I am fully aware that all compensation is not monetary but you should be compensated. The people willing to invest in your work are the people you invest in. If there are any “extras” or “freebies” to be given I think it should be given to those who have already invested in you. Supporting those who support you. In my experience, any time I have given an album away for free people seem to take it and run! It has taught me about the best form of advertising I have available to me.
Word Of Mouth.
Your real friends, your real supporters, your real listeners will talk about you. They will help you. These will be the ones who are parting with their pennies to put money in your bank. Money has worth and if you don't carve out at the very least an expectation of it then you can't carry it's worth. Your work has value. You have value. Your time and effort have value. Do not give to those who have no intention of investing in you.