Yesterday, the husband showed me a link to an article about Nine Inch Nails. NIN had recently released a new album (titled Ghosts I-IV) electronically. Under the Creative Commons license. Which means: they were giving it away.
And now it is number 1 on the Amazon albums sold list:
Forget about the deluxe artwork and the high-priced, limited-edition extras; Reznor actually sold more copies of the basic Ghosts I-IV albums through Amazon's MP3 store than did any other act in 2008. He beat out Coldplay, Death Cab for Cutie, Vampire Weekend, Beck, and hundreds of others, and he did it without a label and by giving the music away.Here's what happened: People downloaded it for free. Some liked it and bought it--the rising culture of Gen Y today realizes appreciation = $ and are willing to pay for it (look at the recent donations being thrown at Wikipedia--in the millions; look at the success of freeware online). Sure, some never spent a penny on it--but they listened to it, and shared it with their friends, and they bought it. And any way you look at it, NIN eventually rose to be number 1--based on a free product.
Footnote: this isn't the first time this happened. As Michael Ayers points out in his recent blog post:
When they self-released “In Rainbows” back in October of 2007, they told fans they could pay anything they wanted- in a download format only. It was a sliding scale, based on how much you think Radiohead’s record is worth to you, and you got it.Now, I know this isn't a music blog, it's a writing one. But the music industry is the best model for the publishing industry. Literary agent Caren Johnson cross posted Michael Ayers post about whether or not publishing can learn from the music industry:
...when the [music] industry had to make a decision about the future- at the beginning of this decade- they balked. Instead of embracing models of online distribution, they retaliated with suing fans, putting restrictions on the digital playback options, or even worse, continued thinking about the bottom line, instead of the quality of their product, or quality of their artist.While I agree paper books won't ever go away, I also believe that whichever publisher first embraces ebooks in an efficient way will become the iPod of publishing....and what publisher wouldn't want that?
ETA: GalleyCat posted an update to this topic in their post from yesterday: and here's and interesting way to use ebooks to market that I'd not thought of, but do think would be effective.