Jonathan Coulton is a musician who is trying a new approach to marketing his music, licensing it under the Creative Commons license. The Creative Commons license basically means that anyone can copy, distribute, transmit, or remix the content as long as they attribute it to the creator. The creator is allowed to add restrictions to this, for instance if they don’t want people to make money off it.
Jonathan Coulton has been able to grow a strong community of raving fans, in part due to the Creative Commons, which allows fan videos like the one above that spread across the internet. This strategy allows artists to avoid record labels from taking their profits, while empowering their fans to share their music with their friends. He also has released his songs for free, on his Song a Week podcast, in which he released a new song every week for a year. Giving away his music has helped him build a loyal following who will attend his concerts and buy merchandise. He also offers the option of buying song downloads at his site.
Nine Inch Nails became the first major artist to release a new album on creative commons. NIN also offers the first 9 tracks of the album for free on their site or all 36 tracks for 5 bucks. They have already sold out of the 2500 Ultimate Deluxe Limited Edition Packages that includes a Blu-Ray disc, a book of photos, an autograph, and costs $300. With many customers being frustrated with the RIAA and CD sales sliding, I think that releasing music for free or under Creative Commons will become a more prevalent business model, which is great for consumers.