For this month’s guest blog we asked artists to discuss the pros and cons of illegal music downloading and how it affects their band. Check out what Virginia’s Late Night Habit had to say and be on the lookout for an exclusive acoustic performance from the band later this week.

The complex reality of the current music industry is that illegal downloading and easy file sharing have transformed songs into a commodity that have been deemed monetarily valueless in recent years. This realization, however hard it may be to swallow, has forced musicians to think outside the box and approach their careers in a non-traditional way.

While some ponder how to fix the broken, the smartest and most successful artists are adopting a new business model: sell an experience. The electronic music scene is built on this model.  Artists like Pretty Lights give away their discographies in hopes that their music will spread exponentially and keep kids returning to their eccentric live performances, buying tee shirts, and donating through their websites. The rock scene is catching on. In January, Weezer hosted The Weezer Cruise, a four day event with three concerts, an 80’s prom, an ugly sweater party, and beer tasting with the band. Amanda Palmer made close to $1.2 million dollars selling experienced based prizes; for $10,000 Amanda and the band will come to your house, have a photoshoot with you, play acoustic songs, give you a plethora of Amanda Palmer merchandise, order thai food, and “drink you under the table.”  This fall, Yellowcard is offering enhanced meet and greet packages for each of their tour dates. For three times the price of a general admission ticket, fans can get early entry to the show, take photos with the band, grab some exclusive autographed merch, and get a digital pre-order of the new album. 

The Internet has changed the game, and it’s a double-edged sword. Artists and fans are closer than ever. The relationships are more intimate, and the experiences are more rich and customizable. However, the Internet has also spawned the album leak, and free music. The bottom line: People will always love music, and illegal file sharing isn’t going away anytime soon. As artists, we need to use the current landscape of the industry to our advantage. The smartest and most successful among us will adapt and prevail. 

Written by Catherine Powell