I've noticed a trend lately, most likely prompted when Radiohead released their album In Rainbows for whatever the listener could pay, of bands releasing music for free. Trent Reznor did the same thing, putting a spotlight on the "free culture" of illegal downloading. More recently the rock supergroup Them Crooked Vultures released their newest single "Mind Eraser, No Chaser" for free on iTunes. Just yesterday, one of my favorite bands, Hanson, said on Twitter that all their followers would receive a new song for download sometime today. This comes after they gave out a card at every stop on their recent tour that had songs from every band that came with them, including Sherwood, Steel Train and Hello Goodbye. One of the biggest bands in modern rock, Coldplay, released LeftRightLeftRight, a live album from their latest tour for free on their website as well.
Also happening more frequently, bands are using their Myspaces and Last.fm sites to stream their newest albums before they are released to the general public. This might just be asking for the albums to be ripped off, but in an ideal world it does have all the benefits of pre-release temptation without the cost of just giving the album away. I have to question which battle is being fought by releasing music exclusively to Wal-Mart though, as bands like The Eagles, AC/DC and singer Miley Cyrus have done.
Is this the wave of the future to combat illegal downloads? Are the mainstream bands just catching up to indie artists that have been rewarding fans this way for years? Does this mean artists no longer have faith in the music industry's selling tactics (especially since record sales continue to plunge as they have been for a while) and are just bent on getting their music out any way they can? If you have any thoughts, feel free to start the debate!