You've probably never heard of a band called 'I Fight Dragons'. Figures, since they've only been around for six months. While browsing around trying to spot some promising new music, this little gig caught our eye. Why? To put it bluntly, because they're aces in self-marketing. These guys are getting 200 new fans on board every week due to a very simple technique: they offer their latest album for free if you sign up for their mailing list and then they keep you hooked with some free tunes almost every week.
What, for free? How appalling, you might think. All that work and they just give it up for nothing. That is where you're wrong; they're giving it up for attention, which, at least in my book, is a pretty fair trade. The truth is that it doesn't really help if you've composed a masterpiece of musical art if no one knows about it and, in today's spider web of gazillions of bands and tracks and MySpace pages and Twitter tweets, it's getting harder and harder to make people listen.
We just don't have the patience anymore to go on an Internet wild goose chase and hope to find some interesting music samples, so musicians have to know how to get to us. 'I Fight Dragons' got a loyal fan base, fans got to save some effort and it's a safe bet that those who truly like the music will also go to concerts or buy albums. A lot of established and emerging artists could learn a thing or two from them. This doesn't mean that you should give up your entire repertoire and stop aspiring to actually make money out of music; it simply shows, once more, that a "what you see is what you get" approach might work better than a "catch me if you can" one.
You may also want to check out this interview posted by 'Music Think Tank' in a talk with 'I fight Dragons' band leader Brian Mazzaferri on this very topic.