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As a solo artist, what do you view as the greatest opportunities and threats in the new digital age of the record-buying public? Will artists like yourself have to think of new ways to sell your art? —Graham Walker, Auchterarder, Scotland
Two summers ago, my last solo album, Body of Song, was posted in its entirety on a server. (It was run by a person who owned a recording studio—how ironic.) Seeing as it was two months ahead of release, I was concerned that it would have a negative impact on sales. I let people know my disappointment with the leak, as well as the specific financial realities of the project. I knew there was nothing I could do to keep people from downloading it, so I asked them to consider pre-ordering the tactile version from my Web site. The response was quite good, both in terms of advance orders and letters of understanding and constructive feedback from my audience.
I make music because that’s all I do. I compile thematically coherent songs and package those editions as an album. I see the album as a viable format for established artists; for newer bands, a steady stream of single tracks might be more effective in building a new audience. I hope consumers consider the value the work might bring to their life, and that I am rewarded fairly for the effort and expense. One or two songs posted on an MP3 blog, or by other media outlets, is promotion and exposure; it’s a lot cheaper than the old model of “compensating” radio stations to play the music. But when all music is free, very little of it will have real value. Without some level of advertising, promotion, filtering, or trusted sources, the consumer will be overwhelmed. We often get exactly what we pay for. —Bob Mould
Bob Mould DJs at Blowoff, May 12 at the 9:30 Club. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.