What if bands charged an extra few dollars for each concert ticket and gave everyone at the shows a compact disc or a thumb drive of their latest album or EP? It could be that some artists are already doing this. But I have not heard of it happening.
I know that some bands already give thumb drive recordings of that night's show to people who pay extra, but I am talking about new recorded material. And I know of bands who give people a code for a free download. However, that is usually just for a single song and often people lose or throw away the paper with the code.
The band would probably not make a profit with this venture, but they could at least break even if they worked it right. This way their latest music would be out there in the hands of people who are interested in the band. Some fans might throw the music away and some might treasure it for the rest of their lives.
I am not thinking of this as a way to get around piracy. It is still too easy to steal music. If someone just wants to steal a song rather paying $1.26 for a download, he's going to do it. (As I have said before, if you could steal a car as easily as you can steal a song, Ferraris would be sold by the Spotify Automotive Dealership for 5 cents a piece.)
But this could be a good way for a band to get people to listen to their new music. I'm not talking about the upper 1%, the artists whose latest release makes international news. I'm thinking of this for everyone else, all of those artists whose albums are not a trending topic on Facebook.
Now there are issues I am not sure how to deal with yet. For instance, what if true fans pay to download the album the day it is released? Will they be angry that you are then giving out copies at the show? Will they be angry that they are essentially be charged for the album as part of their ticket price even though they already bought the album?
Will there be people who are happy to go to the show, but don't want to pay the slightly higher ticket price for the new work? Will some people be annoyed that they are being given the new songs at all? Theoretically people are happy to receive an album for free. However, when Apple gave every iTunes subscriber a free copy of U2's new album, people were outraged. “How dare you give me a free album!”
And my intention with this idea is not to force music on people who don't want it. I am just trying to think of ways that bands can get their new music into the hands of people who might be interested in it. After all, despite the massive disruption to the music industry, the music landscape is still far from flat. The top 1% still get the bulk of the attention. And this is not to say that they are not talented, that their music shouldn't be heard. But I would argue that, for a lot of it, the attention those albums receive is not proportional to their quality.
I'm not suggesting people need to revolt and overthrow the current top artists. I'm just looking for a way that the other quality bands can get a bit more attention, can have a chance to be heard by a few more people. I think there is room enough to raise the attention of these other artists without diminishing the work of the top 1%.