I managed to compile a few opinions on the question, “ What has been the impact of free music downloads on the value of music.”
Vernon Kathemba – (Legal Practicioner / Hip-hop Artist / Blogger)
It has been to lessen the value of music and also led to the industry shooting itself in the foot because people naturally expect music to be free. It’s created a culture of entitlement amongst ‘fans’ which is self-destructive. A true fan will pay if they like your music. It’s not like the price of music is exorbitant.
For instance, if you give out an entire album for free, it means your Record label has no valuable back catalogue which you can re-issue and sell from time to time. I listen to Jazz albums from the 50s that the Labels continue to re-issue because the back catalogue has value. In my case, I’m still selling ‘Trained 2 reign’ today as part of a Double CD package with the new album. I wouldn’t be able to do this if I gave it out for free when it came out because it would not have any value. So putting out music for free especially entire albums diminishes the long term value of your business because it literally means you have no catalogue beyond the record you’ve put out for free today. So you can never invest and survive long term because your catalogue is basically your Capital.
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Larry Kwirirayi – (Creative Entrepreneur : Writer/ Blogger/ Poet /Actor / Radio Presenter)
Well the value of music is relative. Who is valuing it? The thing though is that ‘free’ downloads are a marketing tool. It is up to the artist to see how to generate revenue from that. In essence it has helped many from being obscure to a space where they get a bit known. Unfortunately many have no offline strategy to support it.
Mike Tashaya – (Marketing Consultant / Popular Social Media Figure)
I don’t have a lot to say than that it’s made musicians very poor. I’m hardly an authority on the matter.
Jonathan (RnB Artiste)
Free downloads are good for marketing but it somehow degrades the value of an artist’s music though I understand that in our situation it’s different because music sales in Zimbabwe are extremely low so artists survive on shows really but there is some value that’s taken away if music is given away for free.
Nyaradzo Alan Nyoni
I think they’re a gift and a curse in the sense that for genres in their infancy free downloads offer a platform for artists to showcase their quality to the fans before fans actually commit financially to the artist’s cause, but I think free downloads also brought with them the problem of people no longer believing in paying for music especially in this digital age….it’s a two way problem…
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Shayzar (Mixmasters) – Producer / Record Label Exec
From what I know it has helped immensely in distribution of music without the radio airplay politics, artists have blown up over that and artists and consumers both benefited greatly, however at times its overdone and without much thought in it toooo much stuff is out there on the net so its hard to choose the good songs/albums..saturation. It has also killed the revenue stream for physical album sales people now expect freebies, fewer and fewer people want to buy albums the just wait to either stream the album or download a free version, thereby killing the production process of being paid.
Noble Stylz – (Accountant / Hip-hop Artiste / Social Media Figure)
I personally think any1 can make a song any1 can listen to it…but only those who can make BRANDS can SELL MUZIK..so well free downloads or not some of these dudes would neva sell even a 100copies..free downloads switched the artist bank from COPIES BOUGHT to giving free muzik and capitalise on SHOWS from the popularity gained from free muzik..but mosy artists are stil IDIOTS they give free downloads and do free shows hahahaha.
Dexter Baysiq – (Hip-hop Artiste)
I think it has down graded the value of music. Yes it can reach out to most in zim since most are about freebies but musically this has dropped the value of both the music & artist. It brings out a picture of desperation. Selling music shows one’s value. The crowd will respond.
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