May 29, 2004

New Music Distribution Models [1:15 pm]

Go ahead. Share.

A funny thing happened when music fans began illegally sharing songs by the Boston band Jim’s Big Ego on Napster several years ago. The band got bigger. So much bigger that when the record companies began cracking down on file sharing and Napster blocked JBE’s music, frontman Jim Infantino wrote a letter to Napster asking them to make his songs available, copyright or no copyright.

[...] What Infantino wanted was to share his music freely without sabotaging his career, a notion that major record companies would argue is untenable but that Infantino is discovering makes plenty of sense. In September he released “They’re Everywhere,” JBE’s fourth full-length album, under a Creative Commons license — a free, flexible copyright with the slogan “Some Rights Reserved.”

[...] So far so good. “They’re Everywhere” has already dramatically outsold any of JBE’s previous releases. The band performs at the Lizard Lounge on Thursday.

“I honestly don’t know how much of that is due to the way we’ve licensed this, but allowing people to share our music certainly hasn’t hurt our sales,” says Infantino. “We’re giving away the music and selling more CDs.”

[Prof. Larry] Lessig isn’t surprised. “For talented, up-and-coming artists like Jim’s Big Ego, the key to becoming successful is getting known and making your art available,” he says. “Free downloading doesn’t mean cannibalism. And the data doesn’t support the argument that file sharing harms sales.”

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