Only once in my life have I ever paid for a music download, it was for the bonus tracks on Devo’s new album and it was to use up the balance on an iTunes gift card I received for Christmas. I felt stupid after doing so, and I’ll never do it again. I know why Warner Brothers sells their music through iTunes. WB is a company whose business it is to sell music and make money. We all know and accept that the record industry is a dirty, filthy entity full of shitbags that have nothing to do with creating art and are only in it for the money.
What I’ll never understand is underground bands/artists selling their releases as download-only, bands who record their sounds for little or no money on computer programs or 4 track machines they bought 10+ years ago. I certainly can understand charging for product you have sunk money into. CDs, records and tapes cost money to make; it only makes sense that you would accept money in exchange for these items. But, when it comes to selling downloads of your songs on a site like Bandcamp in which you’ve hosted your songs for free, I can’t accept that. It’s almost no work at all to upload your music to Bandcamp, and they do all of the legwork with collecting money. After you set up your page and upload your music, you literally have no responsibility from then on out. No emails to answer, no CDs to burn, no packages to make, no postage expenses, etc.
More and more I’m seeing people uploading recordings they did years ago onto sites like Bandcamp and charging for downloads. Often times they’re charging more for the download than they did for the cassette tapes they were originally available on. If your music costs you nothing to create, nothing to host, nothing to distribute, then it shouldn’t cost anything for people to download it.
I’d like to think bands/artists create because they enjoy doing so. I assume it’s something they would be doing even if nobody was listening. If I thought a band I liked was only creating their art because they thought they could turn a profit from it, I’d stop listening to them. As soon as an artist takes in to consideration what other people want to hear, their art becomes compromised and diluted. Art should be created for art’s sake. The act of creating should be reason enough for doing it. Be happy people are interested in what you’re doing. Stop limiting your audience by gouging them unnecessarily for something you have no money invested in.