Free music is very much like free software in that there are no restrictions in copying, modifying, and distributing these supposed works of art.  Such being the case, in its truest form, free music has no profit underpinnings.  It is art for art’s sake, and for the appreciation of everyone at no cost.  But can free music really exist in our profit-oriented world?  So what happens to musicians who embrace this concept?  How do they make a living?

Unlike in free software wherein business models are usually based on adding value such as applications, support, training, customization, integration, or certification, such is not the case with free music.  Up to the present, business models, which focus on how artistic creativity can flourish and generate revenues for the musician at the same time, are still being developed.  And with the growing popularity of the World Wide Web, these models should take into account the positive and negative repercussions which go with the far-reaching and efficient distribution brought about by the internet.

Oftentimes, people equate free music to free music downloads from the internet.  Although there a record labels and website distributing free music, as well as artists distributing their work under free conditions, these comprise a small percentage of free music downloads.  Most of the legally downloadable songs and musical scores available in the net are copyrighted but with the permission of the owner or open licensed.  Although downloading is allowed, there are likely to be restrictions on copying, modifying and distributing the materials.

Free music has not been as popular as free software, probably for economic reasons.  Although consumers truly benefit from the condition that no money is involved in utilizing the material for whatever purpose, the fact that no money is involved also makes free music making a non-worthwhile economic activity.  Simply put, it will be very difficult to make a living out of it.  During this day and age, very few musicians distribute their work in an unrestricted manner.  In fact, they want copyright laws to be further strengthened so that they can maximize the earnings from their compositions and recordings.

Commercialism has taken its toll on the artistic integrity of our musicians.  The painful economic reality that they have to make money from their talents is a glaring one.  And since free music and commercialism cannot mix, much like water and oil, the dichotomy will continue to exist until someone finds an acceptable model, which can bring the two together.  But for the true artist, free music is the way to go.

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