Entertainment behind the scenes
Will all music one day be free?
OK, they may not be Prince in terms of their importance and popularity, but youthful band McFly are a pretty big deal in Britain, boasting seven number one singles and two chart-topping albums. So when they announce they will be giving their new album away for free with a Sunday newspaper, perhaps they should not be ignored.
The band is following Prince’s lead to the letter. The U.S. star also issued an album free with the Mail on Sunday last year in a move that enraged retailers and record labels, for obvious reasons, but which was seen as a commercial success when the tour he was promoting sold well.
McFly will release “Radio:ACTIVE” with the same newspaper on July 20 in order to lure more people to their live shows. It underlines the trend in pop music towards giving your music away for free, or at least selling it for a song, in order to make money through live performances, merchandising and advertising.
Prince has done it, Radiohead has done it with their “pay-as-much-as-you-want” scheme, Coldplay gave away a single from their latest album online — the list gets longer and longer. The reason? Selling music does not make enough money, due to online piracy and the popularity of other forms of entertainment like video games.
Artists are convinced they will be the winners in the long term as revenues from touring go on rising. Record labels are going to end up among the losers if the trend continues. But there is another potential loser. The music fan.
Industry executives, perhaps unsurprisingly, argue that the more music is given away for free, the less money music labels make, and the less money labels make, the less money they spend on discovering new talent.
Do you buy that argument? And will the trend towards cheaper music continue to the point where some or even all of it is free?