Miley Cyrus is known to push the envelope. From her trippy Instagram account, jaw-dropping performances, and eccentric outfit choices, Cyrus has gained plenty of media attention over the years. Once again, Cyrus is making headlines, but this time for something new. Sadly, the announcement isn’t about a Hannah Montanta spin-off. Instead, Cyrus has made the decision to stream her newest album for free, which might create an issue for the music industry.
In an interview with Marie Claire, Cyrus hints as to why she chose to stream her album for free. “It’s a never-ending cycle. Getting more money, having more hits, being the lead in the movie—those things might stimulate you, but they don’t make you happy. I’ve experienced it all already, and I’m telling you firsthand, it doesn’t.” While it’s clear that Cyrus is no longer motivated by money and fame, this does not mean she is ready to quit her career. Instead, it seems that Cyrus wants to produce music simply for her fans.
Cyrus is not alone in her opinion about free music. Other artists agree with the idea that free music should not be an issue. Artists such as Radiohead, Chance the Rapper, and of course, U2 have all released free albums over the past few years. Since Cyrus has been so prevalent in the media, it is clear that this album will generate plenty of attention. Although Cyrus is certainly not the first artist to release free music, it is possible that she will start a trend in the music industry since she has other musicians who feel the same way about free music. If Cyrus gets positive reviews from releasing a free album, it may also motivate other artists to begin releasing free music.
Although the release of free music benefits consumers, it can also hurt the music industry. Cyrus has already stated that money is no issue for her, but what about the lesser-known artists trying to make ends meet? Those who are just starting out in the industry, or those who are still trying to catch their “big break” do not have the advantages that Cyrus and other well-known bands have. While artists like Cyrus, Radiohead, and U2 are willing to release free music, this does not hurt them financially since they are already incredibly wealthy, and they have large enough fan bases that will purchase tickets to their shows. However, up and coming musicians do not have the luxury of making money from sold-out shows. Producing music is expensive. Recording music in a recording studio can cost around $100 an hour, and there are extra fees on top of that. For well-known bands, this isn’t an issue, but smaller artists that are spending thousands of dollars to create music are going to expect some money coming in.
It already appears that many musicians support the release of free music. It allows more people to listen to their music, and it allows musicians to be seen as selfless people. However, what some musicians aren’t taking into account, are the people working mundane jobs because it puts food on the table, yet they dream of hearing their voices on the radio. The people who spend their weekends playing at open mic nights crossing their fingers that they will get noticed. The people who put any extra savings into recording time at a studio so they could make a quality demo to send to record companies. Sure, free music is awesome; otherwise we wouldn’t have risked getting a virus-ridden computer in 2006 from Limewire. But if free music starts to become a normal occurrence, what about artists who can’t afford to produce music for free? They could have been our new favorite performers and we would never know because we never got the chance to hear their music. Kind of like how we never got to hear the actual song we downloaded off of Limewire way back when because it was replaced with Bill Clinton’s voice.
This article was written by Kim Dilisio, a writer for dusk magazine.