Free music: letting go of my last pre-Digital Age hangup

It’s 6 years since I read Andrew Dubber’s mind-blowing ebook Music In The Digital Age (and almost a decade since he published The 20 Things You Need To Know About Music Online), and although I completely buy his ideas I still find myself struggling to put them into practice.

In the last decade the mainstream audience slipped quietly into the world of streaming, and now inhabits a strange place where it’s still reasonable to pay £10 for a CD, but also perfectly reasonable to pay £10 per month to stream everything. Which leaves the Bandcamp release in a mysterious liminal state – it’s digital, but designed to appeal to the music fan’s love of collecting, curating and owning music.

But we’re all hanging on to pre-Digital Age thinking about music in different ways. For me it’s a distrust of free music. If there’s an EP I like that’s priced at £4 or more, I’ll always pay a little more. Even at £1 or more I’ll often pay a fiver. But if it costs £0 or more I’ll think twice about buying it because my lizard brain starts shouting IT’S A TRICK! IF IT’S FREE IT MUST BE TERRIBLE!

I’m pretty sure this is just me being an Old Person, so I’m going to put the lizard back in its cage, drag my feet out of the quicksand of Electrical Age thinking and make all the Beanie Tapes releases Name Your Price with no minimum. Let’s see if the sky falls on our heads.