The Benefits of Creative Commons Has For Musicians

When Radiohead released their album for free, the question asked was will they make money from the idea. Month’s later they released a physical and it became a best-seller. Nine Inch Nails developed their own music social network providing music for free to be remixed and reused, along with releasing partial and full albums for free. In efforts to recoup lost revenue from slumping album sales (but rising digital sales), the record industry began to sign “Multiple Rights” or “360” deals with their artists, gaining revenue from other items such as t-shirt and concert sales. The idea behind these three examples are all the same: artists’ music provides exposure for other avenues of revenue.

Britney Spears became popular because of her music, not her looks or her public meltdowns (those were “added bonuses”). Musicians are more valuable than an album release; really popular musicians acquire marketing deals, clothing lines, sell out arenas, and sell thousands of t-shirts because of their music. Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails have proved the more accessible your music is, the more the artist benefits. Licensing music with Creative Commons provides an easy, free way to make music more accessible thus benefiting the musician.

It’s About Free Promotion Dummy

Creative Commons is an easy, cheap (as in free) way to promote music. Using a Creative Commons Liscences’ artists allow anyone to copy or distribute their work as long as proper credit is given. Additional licenses provide more flexibility allowing the person to remix and adapt songs to their liking or can be more restrictive allowing only non-commercial use. Regardless of use, if a licensed track is used, credit must be given to the artist of the work.

So what’s the benefit?

If a track is used in a YouTube video, credit to the artist must be given. Links can be placed in the video or within the description. Imagine this video gets a Million views. Without having to lift a finger, the artist has become a part of a promotional campaign that garnered a million ears listening to the track, a million people seeing the artists name, and exposure many dream of. 

Money At The Door > Money From The Album

Venue’s (both real and virtual) love sell out crowds. Artists are able to make more money from appearances and concerts than that from from album purchases. Venue’s are willing to pay more to artists if the artist the more popular they are or the broader their fan base. Venue’s profit from drinks, ticket sales, and in the case of Second Life, traffic. Merchandise sold at a venue by the artist (CD’s, t-shirts, etc), a cut of ticket sales and tips (in the case of Second Life) can eclipse that made through album sales. One of the reasons 360 deals are lucrative for record companies is the need to promote the artist and make their music more accessible.

An artists fan base grows initially through their music. There are several acts I enjoy for their music first and willing to attend many concerts, gatherings and events solely because I feel in love with a song of theirs.

You Don’t Have To Give It All Away

I am a Nine Inch Nails fan, and was intrigued by their Ghosts I-V Album and decided to check it out. I did not cost me anything because they released the first 6 tracks from the album for free. 30 minutes later, I found myself purchasing the full album because I enjoyed the preview so very much. I understand album sales are important and not suggesting artists give away ALL of their music (for those who are weary about such a thing). Releasing singles from an album with a Creative Commons license can result in album sales if the listener enjoys your album.

For those who think these licenses may usurp album sales, because your allowing others to share and redistribute your music, Radiohead’s example proves otherwise. The In Rainbows free music giveaway does provide a lot of exposure for their physical CD sale, especially if you include something to the album. Again, I’m not suggesting that artists should CC license all of their music (although it would be a very nice idea); licensing some tracks does generate the sort of exposure that can (and will if the music is good) generate album sales.

It’s Still All About The DJ

Everyone who makes any sort of music must rely on the DJ. Today’s DJ provides more than just radio and club airplay. DJ’s have podcasts, blogs, music reviews, Last.FM’s, etc. The easier it is to get music to the DJ, the easier it is to provide exposure to our listeners throughout many mediums. If we like you, we will promote the heck out of you, all this does is provide more exposure to the artist. 

This Post is Sponsored By The Word Exposure 

Regardless of fame, status of record sales, every artist need more exposure. Free and shared exposure is the easiest form of promotion. Musicians gain a lot from using Creative Commons. It gets music into the hands of more people, through different mediums providing the most exposure for the artist. CC licenses can provide the sort of leverage for future record deals, music licensing or promotion easily and cheaply!

Note: Creative Commons Turns 6 mid-December and are hosting a Salon today in New York City at 7pm. This post is inspired by today’s gathering which occurs at For Your Imagination, 22 W. 27th St., 6th Floor, New York, NY. RSVP for the event and I’ll see you there!

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2 Responses to The Benefits of Creative Commons Has For Musicians

  1. Pete Smith says:

    Say yes to creative commons.

    We are an independent record label not a big bad corporation out to sue you for file sharing, we WANT you to spread our music around and we actively encourage P2P file sharing of our music.
    With such an overcrowded market place giving away your music is essential in my opinion. The biggest problem for emerging indie artists today is obscurity, not piracy. To find out more listen to The Antiqcool Podcast

  2. Pingback: The Benefits of Creative Commons Has For Musicians | LAB

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