For an increasing number of acts, free or illegal downloads are a promotional tool more valuable than money.
When we released “One”, we decided to do an experiment. I really wanted to get this music to a lot of people, because I am very proud of it. I started to figure out what it would cost to give away that many CDs. It was a lot. More than I would lose from just putting up free mp3s on my website, or so I thought. I still think that.
I did put up free Creative Commons licensed mp3s of the entire album. I also made physical CDs available for sale, and higher quality mp3s are available from the Pepper Enterprises mp3 Store. It is also on iTunes and eMusic, and the like.
I think it worked out all right. Lots of people downloaded it for free, and listened and commented on it, including some well known folks that I might not have been able to get to listen to an unsolicited CD they received in the mail, but they would go download a free track or two when they read about it online. I’ve sold some copies too. I don’t know that I will give away ALL of the next album, but the process definitely convinced me of the promotional value of giving away music online.