Aussie rock icon joins freebie rank

Asher Moses
January 22, 2008
Paul Kelly is giving away his music.
Paul Kelly is giving away his music.

Paul Kelly is giving away his music.
Photo: Penny Stephens
Australian rock icon Paul Kelly has started to give away the first of 100 free songs to registered users of his website.
The move is a sign that the trend for artists to give away freebie tracks on the web in order to cultivate new fans, spur album sales and build buzz around concert tours is penetrating the Australian music scene.
Kelly, who will perform at the Big Day Out in Sydney today and in Melbourne on Monday, plans to make live recordings from his "A to Z" concerts available for download each month.
Like the format of the concerts, where Kelly performed 100 of his songs in alphabetical order, a new letter of downloads will be added each month. The letter "A" is already available with songs including Adelaide, After the Show and Anastasia Changes her Mind.
In October, British rock group Radiohead scored widespread global press coverage after ditching its record label, EMI, in order to release its new album, In Rainbows, as a download on its website. For two months, fans could download it for free or for whatever price they were willing to pay.
While reports suggested most people paid nothing, the move was seen as a stroke of marketing genius and the publicity clearly won the band some new fans. When the album was released on CD in stores it hit No.1 on the Billboard Top 200 chart, despite already being offered for free online.
Earlier last year, in July, Prince sought to reignite his flagging career by giving away his album, 3121, free through a London newspaper.
Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, who has publicly berated his record label over the price charged for the band's albums, has also experimented with marketing directly to fans via the internet.
In partnership with up and coming hip-hop artist Saul Williams, Reznor released Williams's new album, The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust, as a free download. Fans could either download the album for free or pay $US5 for a higher quality version.
But so far the Williams/Reznor experiment hasn't been as lucrative as Radiohead's - Reznor has revealed only 80 per cent of those who downloaded the album paid for it.
In an interview with CNET News, Williams said it was still early days and there was still money to be made from album sales and touring.
"It doesn't work against me giving it away free to so many listeners," he said. "The more people that are into it, the more people that say 'I got to see this live."'