Should Music Be Free?

My music promotion class discussed this question a week or so ago: is recorded music really just a free promo tool to that should be used to promote live shows? Their answer: unanimously, unreservedly – yes. That is certainly becoming the norm in this day in the music industry, but is that a good thing? When – and how – did recorded music become so invaluable to music fans? Well, let me tell you about another class discussion. The question this time was, “what are you looking for in the artists your PR company will work with?” The answers, in order:

  1. Swagger
  2. Fanbase (social media)
  3. Talent

As soon as they put talent third on the list, they were like, “wooooooooooow.” Here here. From there, a debate (ok, it was really more like another discussion) ensued about whether a diminishing requirement for talent has devalued recorded music and made it more dispensable for fans – younger fans in particular. Now, there is surely fantastic music being made today, but generally, are our standards too low  – or too far off-base – to let the good stuff get through? In other words, where is today’s Aretha Franklin? She probably can’t get anyone to listen.

In any case, I’d like YOU to weigh in on the discussion and share your thoughts about the value of music and making a living in today’s music industry. Should recorded music be free? Why or why not? Are we really looking for swagger instead of talent?

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