Should Music Be Free?

There is a question that we as artists and musicians have to face eventually: Should Music be Free?

Most people who are creators will say 'no' right off the bat, because we value our work and know that there is a cost in creating it (recording, etc.). We also see it as a skill/trade, and we don't expect others to give out their skills for free. In fact, here's a pretty funny video about what happens when you ask non-creative people to do their work for free to put this perspective into context.

Recently, I received a message from a indie film company that 'needed to get a release form from me because we are using some of your music'. When I learned that it was for free (credits only) the response of 'no thank you' was easy. I'm blessed to already have a few film and TV credits, and there was no real promotional value in this offer for me personally as an artist and songwriter. But, I wondered: would have responded differently if I didn't have the placements already?

Which brings us to the other side of the question: What if you do get something of value out of the free transaction?

For example, there is a service called Noisetrade that offers free content from musicians/artists and authors in exchange for an email address and zip code. I personally decided it was worth giving away a 6 Song Sampler for a couple of weeks to increase my fanbase and promote my music to a large online audience that didn't know me. It worked, I ended up with 700 plus more people for my email list, which hopefully will help me in the longer term with touring and selling music.

I guess what I'm saying here is that I think we all have to decide for ourselves on a case by case basis what we should do for free- and what we shouldn't. And, those answers aren't always easy.

So, what do you think?