Five ways musicians can flourish in a P2P world

In Rainbows - honesty pays, sometimes.
In Rainbows - honesty pays, sometimes.

Believe it or not, musicians are not all greedy, money-grabbing attention seeking primadonas, some of them actually want you to listen to their music as well.

Now the early manoeuvrings of the BPI may not be the most effective way of stopping the illegal downloads that they suggest are killing the cash-rich music industry, but as they battle to put the cat back in the bag alternatives are available.

In fact, there are many ways that musicians can make money in the modern day world even if their tracks are being ripped and transferred without them getting a penny per play, so we at TechRadar have gone through and picked out some ways for our bards to flourish in the modern world.

Honesty Box

Radiohead are one of the biggest bands in British music, and amongst the most listened to groups in the world, but that didn't stop them offering fans an 'honesty box' approach to their last album 'In Rainbows'.

To great media attention, the band offered fans a DRM free download of their album for a fee nominated by the downloader. Want the album for free? Set the amount to 0. Want to pay £50? Hey, it's your money.

The final figures on what the band made have not been announced, but it certainly got the album into the public consciousness and we'd hazard a guess that Thom Yorke et al aren't raiding the back of their sofa for change as a result.


When Prince chose to give away his latest album 'free' on the front of a paper the music industry was up in arms. Here was one of the most popular musicians in the world giving away his music for nothing.

But in actual fact Prince had spotted that most of his revenue came not from his dwindling album sales but from the concerts that he received a share of ticket receipts for.

Bands are increasingly looking to live events to make their money and to be picked as a headline act or to fill that football stadium you need to have your music in the ears of today's discerning punter.

And what better way than giving it to them for nothing?

Internet advertising

You may have noticed that there are quite a lot of websites around, and you probably also know that for many it is the adverts from major (and minor) companies that makes them money.

If you have an internet destination that receives thousand of visits daily then you can make a lot of cash.

So couldn't a musician (or their record label) set up a website and make a pretty penny from advertisers as fans flock to the site to get a track every week?

MySpace is still the site du jour for music, but money is already being made by the likes of portal sites, which offer 'free' downloads. Surely the musician can start getting a little bit of that revenue?

Total music services/computer games

Think of the likes of Nokia 'Comes with Music' or the latest Rock Band. These are things that rely on having the latest and greatest tracks.

They also pay money to have them. If big business is buying rights to tracks to be used on their services then the musician and the industry benefits.

Nokia pays to keep its service up and running and Guitar Hero and Rock Band compete to offer the tracks that their audience will buy the games to play on plastic instruments.

Make the physical more attractive

Fans are, well, fanatic and a digital download only gives them a part of the package that they want.

People already love the physical nature of things like vinyl – with glossy album covers and something you can display and the music industry needs to concentrate on this.

Want a full size poster of McFly (we're projecting, obviously)? Perhaps getting it when you buy the album would be an incentive.

People like to collect stuff and downloads just don't scratch that particular itch for most people. So give the collectors something tangible.

Patrick Goss

Patrick Goss is the ex-Editor in Chief of TechRadar. Patrick was a passionate and experienced journalist, and he has been lucky enough to work on some of the finest online properties on the planet, building audiences everywhere and establishing himself at the forefront of digital content.  After a long stint as the boss at TechRadar, Patrick has now moved on to a role with Apple, where he is the Managing Editor for the App Store in the UK.