Freeconomics and McFly

Freeconomics took another step into the mainstream this week, as Multiplatinum-selling pop group McFly announced they would be giving away their new CD with The Mail On Sunday on July 20th.

Now, in terms of brands that combination is enough to make me vomit (I hate McFly and I hate the Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday‘s small-minded right-wing bigotry), but putting my personal hatred aside, it’s got to be said that it’s another big step forward for the mainstream adoption of new business models.

Taking a (probably well-deserved) shot at their former record company, Universal, McFly said that “Setting up our own label allows us to rip up the rulebook and find new ways of reaching an audience.”

Adapting a freemium model most famously championed by Nine Inch Nails, the band are giving away the basic CD to an estimated 3 million newspaper customers (for which the newspaper will obviously pay McFly a hefty lump sum), then selling a deluxe version of the album a month later as a CD, featuring four extra new songs, a bonus DVD and a 32-page booklet.

Obviously the record companies hate this (just like they hated the same newspaper’s free giveaway of Prince’s last album).

The BBC reports Music consultant and former Sony executive Neil Cartwright saying “The record industry invests in new artists, and if that money disappears you’re going to find it a lot more difficult if you’re a young band to find support. That really is the danger the industry faces.”

Well, yes, the record industry does face disaster if it refuses to engage with new business models (other than suing music fans), but musicians—both new and established—can easily continue to make money, and music fans can continue to enjoy new music.

It’s just the middle men who won’t be taking a big fat cut any longer (unless they start engaging with the internet and new business models in a positive way rather than ranting against them, and even turning against their biggest promotional tool – music radio).

Anyway, that’s far more than I ever wanted to write about McFly & The Mail On Sunday.