Sharing the Rock
I’m a guilty guilty pirate. In my defense, it’s just too expensive to buy the original albums or original DVDs of movies. In today’s hyperlinked world, it’s easy to share files, documents, e-books, MP3s, movies, and even a whole archive of shows online.
For a small-time pirate like me, I only need Limewire, BitTorrent, Mediafire, and Orbit to get what I want. Sure, I have to pay for the internet connection, but I can get a hundred songs for a minimal cost rather than buying several CDs that cost P500 each, with one CD corresponding only to one artist.
And so, I skip merrily through Limewire and click the download button. It gives me so much satisfaction to see the download progress bar reach 98%, then 99%, and finally 100%. Success! Ahh, the best things in life are free. And the best things in life are free to share.
The Internet was primarily built to share information between people who are linked together by their computers. Now that it has grown to proportions that enabled people from all around the world to connect with one another, everyone could very easily share practically anything from .doc to .avi to one or even hundreds of netizens from one corner of the world to another.
Hello, P2P or peer-to-peer sharing. What this means is exactly what it is named. The World Wide Web is a place where information and data can flow without hierarchies, without bureaucracies, and without boundaries (yeah, privacy settings are in place, but seriously, you can get around that, can’t you?). The Web is made up of hundred and thousands of Fayol’s bridges.
But this phenomenon of P2P sharing poses a big problem for artists and producers. Why buy their albums when you can get them for free? These big time labels started to close and shut down sites and even YouTube posts that play their music. Thing is, people will find more and more ways on how to get free stuff.
That’s why I think that instead of blocking P2P sharing at every chance they get, artists and producers should use this phenomenon to their advantage, or at least adapt to it. They should capitalize on the fact that people love free stuff.
I think that it’s a good marketing strategy for an artist or label to give out some tracks for free. These free songs can serve as teasers for the album itself. If people get a taste of what the album contains, sooner or later, they would get to a point where they would want to get the CD for themselves. Artists can also include bonus values with their CDs like rare and exclusive tracks, t-shirts, or other merchandise that fans will die for. Also, if artists show that they are open and enthusiastic to share their songs with everyone, their fans will also be more enthusiastic to stay with them. Talk about brand loyalty.
Let me relate something to you. This is my experience, and I don’t know whether you agree with me, but I think it illustrates what I wrote above.
I am a Linkin Park fan. I have been buying their albums since Hybrid Theory (which is in cassette). I have been trying to buy every album since then, and it really makes me happy when I have the album in my hands. Nothing compares to the real thing.
I am also an avid follower of lpassociation.com (or used to be; I still check with it from time to time). It’s a site run by fans who post the latest news, updates on upcoming albums, shows, collaborations, chat and forum schedules with the band members themselves, videos, and even bonus tracks.
I was delighted to have found this site and preferred it over the official website. I guess that the feeling of being among other fans is better than reading official press releases on the official site. Most of all, I loved the site, because it posted exclusive tracks from mixtapes, remixes, singles, and special tracks from the band and their collaborations.
I was even more delighted when I found that Linkin Park recognized the site and gave it attention. The site kinda grew to be an affiliate site of the band.
Now that I think about it, the site is actually a good strategy in promoting the band. The fact that it’s fan-based made other fans more enthusiastic in visiting and joining the community. Linkin Park itself encouraged the site administrators and the fans to connect with them by sending links to their forums where the members themselves chat with their fanbase. The band also releases free exclusive and bonus content from upcoming albums. They also let fans upload tracks that were recorded from their shows (an example is the QWERTY song which got released only on their Summer Sonic tour during their concerts).
During the period when Mike Shinoda released his own album (The Rising Tied) separate from the band under the name Fort Minor, it helped that he promoted the album on lpassociation.com. He posted updates on what his album was going to be, what kind of music the fans will expect, and explained why he was going on such a venture. In return, fans posted comments on the site on what they think about the issue. Some had reservations on whether the band is having problems, while others welcomed the thought of Mike going solo. Mike then explained that he will still be with Linkin Park and that he just wanted to an opportunity to show his own brand of music.
After The Rising Tied went out, he gave permission for the administrators to post other exclusive tracks like two collaborations with Lupe Fiasco. These songs were included in a mixtape that was meant only for a limited release. Nevertheless, the fans appreciated the release of these songs.
When the band promotes its new albums, they made sure that they gave special attention to lpassociation.com. They gave previews and sneak-peeks into the album, which made the fans really excited.
Currently, Linkin Park is going to come out with a new album entitled “A Thousand Suns” on September 14, 2010. They had just released the first single off the album – Catalyst (which is also featured on Medal of Honor). Fans can now download the full track on iTunes for free. Feedback on the site was good and a lot of fans were excited to buy the coming album which is packaged with a free shirt, exclusive wallpapers, and a special skateboard sticker.
What I’m saying is that artists can still find a way of making a profit even if people choose to download songs for free. Not that I’m saying online piracy should continue. It should not. It’s just practical to just download songs rather than actually an expensive album.
Still, there are always ways to counter this. I think that the key is to build a relationship with the fans and create bonds with other netizens that will make them patronize their music, make them realize that they can support the artists by actually buying their albums, and create value that weighs more than 500 pesos.
Which means that I would have to start saving for A Thousand Suns now. I swear to God that I will have the funds by September 14. I WILL have that album! Don’t mock me!
A shoutout to everyone: Please patronize our own Filipino artists. Support them by buying original CDs or at least, by going to their shows. We have a lot of great artists out there with some really avant garde and good music. Let’s bring OPM back.