ToussaintMorrison on 01/14/2016 at 07:24PM
Right now, I am absolutely stumped at what to write in explanation of uploading my label’s entire music catalogue to the Free Music Archive. I’ve sat here for at least 20 minutes in a Minneapolis coffee shop, damn bewildered at where to start, or even the intonation to take with this piece.
When I booked my first tour with The Blend, back in 2005, I bought as many blank CDs as possible to mail out to each city we planned to hit. Each CD had a flier stapled to its case, and was distributed by a coffee shop or friend willing to prop them up in a visible spot, or hand out. With that maneuver, we were able to pull a fan-base that had never seen us before, but had heard our sound. The simplicity of giving our music out for free, created an invaluable ripple effect across the country. Soon, as myspace, facebook and other social media sites arose to prominence, we were able to stream our music to anyone that happened to cross our site. Now, I know how way, way, way back this is. I mean, I just referenced myspace. Not the Justin-Timberlake-owned-newly-revamped myspace, but the original myspace with the user experience of a Neanderthal, and fonts worse than “Papyrus” or “Impact”.
Over the past decade, The Blend, and several other bands I’ve managed, have produced amazing music and then moved on to other projects. However, in an effort to preserve the integrity of these projects (or albums), I’ve sought to keep as much of the music alive online, as possible.
In the past, I’ve watched too many bands garner local buzz to sell out the nearest 400 capacity venue, and then fade to obscurity… it just didn’t interest me to go down that path. I wanted my label’s website to host each band and artist I’ve managed, and also wield a litany of digital distribution to any (and every) music streaming site around the globe. With that said… great, now our music is everywhere, but how readily available is it to download or watch? The realization I came to is that it isn’t enough just to have your music ready to stream on every new fandangled stream site that pops up. I mean, there are seriously damn near 30+ multimillion dollar stream sites around the globe that just… stream.
Venturing into the landscape of a solo career, I launched several mixtapes for free download to get my sound and name out to the country. It’s funny, hip-hop is the only genre where people expect you to give away your music for free. Never had anyone approached me with a live hip-hop band, rock band or jazz band and said, “Hey, can I get that album for free???” Now, as a touring hip-hop artist, it’s at least a dozen people that ask, after shows, if they can grab a mixtape. However, my name and sound ended up getting out to more than just the U.S. It wound up in German blogs, New Zealand press, and Brazilian motorcycle commercials. It turns out that free content clearly goes further than free streaming.
Amidst this continual distribution, I found one of my mixtapes had been uploaded to the Free Music Archive, by way of a staff member from a radio station. Fast forward to now, I discussed with the rest of the Urban Home Companion (my label) staff, and came to the decision that we should upload all albums of the past bands we (and I) have worked with, to the Free Music Archive.
Like my first tour with The Blend, I had already understood that selling music was a dead industry, and almost insulting to a fan-base at this point. Availability (or streaming) is key, however the Free Music Archive brought a plethora of filmmakers, producers, and motion graphics artists into discovering my music because of its niche community.
In the continual search to prop music onto bigger or more unique platforms, the Free Music Archive felt like the best decision, as we progress the label. To add, for me as an artist, it’s exceedingly important to have my name and sound out to as many artists as possible. I’ve found FMA to serve more as a distribution from “artist to artist”, as opposed to the traditional “artist to consumer”. This is priceless in that most publishing deals, live shows, and advertising for musicians are by way of other artists such as filmmakers, producers, writers, etc.
So, with that said- Cheers, and here’s to adding more free downloadable content to a site serving as a catalyst for creativity!
Check out our Urban Home Companion playlist of live hip-hop tracks from The Blend, Lazlo Supreme, and G8. Also, don’t forget to stop by Jimmy & The Threats, one of the only a’capella hip-hop groups to grace the FMA!