Why My Free Downloads Aren’t Hurting Anyone:

I received the following comment from a Power of Prog member:


“Hi Len, Nice work there, maybe add some vocals?.

But…please don’t give your work away for free. You have Reverbnation, so make up a CD for people to buy, it’s free and you set the price. This hurts all bands that try to make a living. just put up excerpts for listeners, that will spread the word just as well.

best wishes (Sender’s name & band removed for privacy)”


Below is my complete response sent as a direct message to this person.  Key points have been highlighted in bold print for the purpose of this blog.  Anything identifying the sender has been redacted/modified for their privacy, italicized, & placed in parentheses…

(Member’s Name,)

     Thanks for the compliment, friend!  I just finished listening to your songs on PoP & was really impressed! Epic stuff indeed!  I loved ’em!  I compose only instrumentals because I don’t sing well enough & don’t know any great singers.  Another reason I don’t use vocals, even if I could, is because I feel that vocalists, while making a band more accessible, automatically become the focal point of the listener(& live audience) thus overshadowing whatever great, hard work & talent was invested by the backing musicians who are then reduced to mere accompanists for the singer(remember Genesis’ complaints about Gabriel?).  I also find it stimulating & challenging to compose instrumentals because it forces me to find ways to maintain the listener’s attention without a singer.  Now this is not to say that I have anything against bands with singers; to the contrary, most of my favorites have vocalists that I love.  Your singer is phenomenal & has a wonderful voice!  However, for some reason I’ve never paid much attention to lyrics & have always considered vocalists just another melodic instrument more than a story teller.  I enjoy trying to tell a story through instrumentals as it’s like an abstract painting allowing the beholder to engage their imagination to fill in the gaps suggested by the title &/or brief song descriptions I provide.

     Regarding the suggestion that I am hurting all bands by freely sharing my music, I disagree(…this is the first time anyone has made such an assertion).  If someone loves (your band’s) music(or anyone else’s) they’ll buy it even though they may also get mine for free because we’re different: one is not a direct substitute for the other.  It’s not like two grocery stores, for example, where if one gives its loaves of “Brand-A” bread away, the store down the block can’t sell their “Brand-A” bread because the competition has it for free.  If my music was identical in every way to any other band’s(which is, of course, impossible), then your assertion would be absolutely correct.  Another thing to be considered by anyone who may believe I’m hurting their market share is the fact that when something is free, people often instinctively assume it must have no value(i.e. must be bad music) as everyone is accustomed to paying for things of quality.  I believe this may actually be keeping many of the people who see my free offer from checking it out.  Ultimately, I am helping other bands “make a living” by offering my music for free because if a consumer has only a certain amount of disposable income to spend on music, they can spend it on someone else’s which they wouldn’t be able to do if they had spent it on mine instead. (The preceding sentence was not part of my original response, but a valid point I wanted to add.)

     I have two motivations for freely sharing my music at this time.  Firstly, I feel that it is my only substantial tangible accomplishment in life that has the ability to live on as my little legacy after I’m dead.  I have no children & no relatives whom I can trust to maintain, treasure, appreciate, & hand-down my music after I’m gone & they’re gone.  Therefore, I feel just a little better knowing that if I circulate enough freely downloadable copies of my songs around the web & the world then maybe, just maybe, there will always be someone somewhere on earth(long after I’m taking my dirt nap) that will still be benefiting from(for example) the estimated 300 hours I put into a song such as “Sunquake” by enjoying it.  Additionally, because I work so slowly, as it’s a hobby, & due to other issues, I’m lucky to complete one song per year, so the first five of my posted songs represent roughly five to six years of calendar time meaning a full cd would still be many, many years away as I would want to make more than enough songs & then only include the best of the best.

     My second motivation for freely sharing my music is as a long term marketing strategy in case I ever do release a cd many years from now(if they still have cds;  it may be some other format by then or strictly downloads).  The strategy involves the fact that if one is able to develop sufficient name recognition by giving away some of their product over a very long time (& still be alive after all that time 😉 , then it will be far easier to sell an expanded version of their product because they won’t be a complete unknown.  I am a complete unknown right now compared to (your band) or millions of other bands out there.  I have no bandmates & even if I did it would be a nightmare trying to accurately reproduce some of my songs live, much less get gigs, so the few websites I am on are my only viable promotional/sharing options.  Also, even if I could sell a song for a few cents, iTunes(or whoever) takes a cut, I’d pay something to be on the site, there may be state taxes deducted, & in the end what have I pocketed? …not enough to be worth the trouble imho.  For now I’d rather give it away, make someone happy, & receive a nice compliment in return than complicate my tax return.


     So anyway, by now I’m sure you realize I’m a wordy guy with lots of strongly-held opinions which is why not everyone is going to like me or my actions, but I accept it as who I am & as a product of my life experiences up to this point.  As a courtesy to you & your concerns I have removed my standard “thank you” reply comment from your Comments Wall because it contained links to where my songs can be downloaded for free.  However, I do still thank you for accepting my Friend Invite & please know that I have great respect for your band & its superlative music.  Additionally, after hearing your posted songs I immediately emailed the link to your PoP page to several friends who may be potential customers for your cd &/or live performances.


Len Rice

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