Having just read some blogs extolling the need for free music for podcasting, I feel the "Will Work for Food" blues coming on. The web equivalent of food is fan mail coming in our email boxes. MP3.Com promised us incremental payments if the downloads of our songs rose above a certain rate within a certain time. None of it materialized except for those sharp enough to game the system, and that made it exactly the same deal we got from the major labels if we were sharp enough to get a deal.
On the web, musicians are required to acknowledge that the reward for spending years to learn, the money to get the gear, the thousands of hours of experimentation and revision, and the time away from good things like sex and beer is a bit of fan mail and some snarky ignorant kids sending critiques. Money? No one pays for anything do they?
No, if you really want the money, you have to do what your favorite girls who hang out late night at IHOP do after their gigs: no free samples, no free services, cash or an approved credit card, and "give them what they want" ethics; that is, if you were starving as a street musician playing your original songs, you'll probably starve as a podcaster for the same reasons. At the end of the day, popular tastes are the ultimate example of emergent effects and unless you've mastered the art of the network effect, you are just one more isolated node in a sea of digital clutter.
Hookers and professional musicians know they have one thing in common with the Real Estate witches:
Location. Location. Location.
Unless you are on a street known for the kind of service you are selling, your customers won't be there and you won't be shreddin' the 'natch. If you want to sell your music, find an ipodcaster who needs what the RIAA (Real International Access to Action) pimps won't give them: music tailored to the location. Work out a one time charge or services in kind, then move on.
"Connectivity: the relation of an agent to its neighbors, it can be sparsely connected (only affected by a few neighbors), fully connected (interfacing with every other agent in the system), or some intermediate arrangement. This parameter critically affects the dynamics of the system."
So, pick a place that has lots of traffic looking for the kind of thing you have to offer, but specifically, of the kind you can make. No Bach at the BoogiePalace.
Amazon.com has a new deal for independent labels and others with the ability to make an mp3: a free downloads section. Read the contract. It is about what MP3.COM offered but it doesn't pretend you will make money and you do give them a lot of rights to use your music to make money. It is 'exposure', same as that street corner. Heck, at least they could provide you the equivalent of an 'open axe case' into which people can toss spare change while paying for something else in a neighboring site. Perhaps that is what these sites really need. When someone pays for a book or a used Masserati, they round up their purchase price and name a starving artist to send the spare change to, who of course, must be on the Amazon.com site to be eligible.
At least that's something. Keep in mind: music is not software. Free software gets reused a lot. Free music gets one or two listenings then becomes bit bucket filler. Today I get free email from betwitched.net. At least on that corner of the street, they do appreciate the effort it took to record the song and give it away.
At Amazon.com, I'll be 'exposed'. Brrrr.