I have been telling people this for years. I have even built a website intended to help promote artists by offering free downloads( legal downloads). Free Downloads Help Music Sales. Period.
It is a debate that will continue I am sure. I was inspired to write this post, because I came across a great article on the topic. Turns out the author of the article is a Grammy award winning artist. If you were to have a source for support of an argument, who better than a person who is not only in the industry, but has reached heights many artists only dream about.
Janis Ian has recorded with greats like Dolly Parton just to name drop, and has clearly seen the benefits of listeners downloading mp3 songs for free. In her article she mentions how napster, the harbinger of this whole conversation, would drive listeners to her website in search of more information or more music, a small percentage of those would convert to sales online and in stores.
In this age of bubble gum, all sounds the same music, can you blame the consumer for wanting to hear some of the work before investing a hard earned dollar into the artist. I have always said that if the quality of the music would improve, sales would improve, regardless of the download phenomena. At any rate, posted are links to the Download Debaucle story and free legal downloads from Janis Ian.