Over the next month or so we are going to have releases from top talent such as Newham Generals, JME, Skepta, Frisco and Terror Danjah but it seems everyone outside of the top 15 acts is just releasing shoddy music for free.

This is hurting the scene in so many ways, I just want to make a series of points I want artists, producers and DJs to think about.

Grime already has a weak purchasing culture, most people do not pay for the music and haven't done from the start. This doesn't encourage people to support the artists with their wallets.

People are putting money into music videos and then putting the tracks up for free, so artists are making losses to compete with each other it seems? This is unsustainable, and only the top artists can afford to do this from their P.A money.

The record shops have no grime to sell, so when someone does have a quality product to take to the stores, shops wont even bother taking it on anymore. So there will be fewer outlets to sell the music. Grime is very close to being an iTunes only music.

For artists that aren't established it is very difficult to be heard, I think making good tracks and pushing them singularly works better then pushing an EP of 8 or 9 tracks nobody has heard. It works for the bigger artists so I struggle to understand why younger, newer artists don't do the same thing. Think what 'Next Hype' has done for Tempa T or what 'Left The Room' has done for P Money.

I have regularly been speaking about this with DJs Logan Sama and Vectra and their comments they wanted to add to the blog are:

Logan - "Free downloads can devalue great music and make it instantly forgettable, lost in an ocean of zip files"

Vectra - "I think a complete waste of time! These same artists will turn around and complain 3 months later that they didn't even sell 500 units.. Everyone likes a freebie so why would pay for CD when you know this same artist is going to give a free download.. you never see Dizzee Rascal put out a free ep.. and he has had 4 number one singles off one album.. do the maths"

If you are not investing in your music who else will?


  1. Simon Pachubatinath 27 September 2010 at 21:12

    An interesting thought -I think that the flurry of free product reflects the way the industry is currently moving: the big artists make most money from playing live. Madonna's last tour out-grossed her last album by about 7 times. Lady Gaga is making phenomenal money from her shows, NOT her albums. Notice how Wiley is able to tour in the back of the publicity generated by the Zip Files and how Prince is able to sell out the 02 for a week to promote a giveaway CD. For up and coming artists this is a problem, they do get lost in the 'sea of zip files', AND struggle for bookings but I suspect this will result in more 'package' tours; not just one MC but a bunch of them clobbering together to perform live (=value for money) and support digital only releases. I predict a move back to the MC/DJ shows of earlier grime, more club dates with better performances. Naturally, I want CD and wax! But I think music is going through a phase when it needs to emphasis a channel and platform that can't be digitised and copied -a real, live, flesh and blood performance can be recorded, but not recreated. How shit would your best rave be on DVD? No sweat, no pulse, no urgency or people!

    Also, don't forget, people are more likely to pay for something if they have been given a 'freebie'. It promotes loyalty. Zip Files are just the 'free sample' or the plastic toy in a box of cereals.

  2. id 1 October 2010 at 14:42

    yeah it's good point. my main bugbear is people putting out crap for free - cos i do think the 'free release' thing can work, so long as you do it properly: promote it, use it to drive attention to your paid stuff, make sure it's good.

    what really does my head in though, is when people just go "here are a few unmastered beats from 2006 that weren't good enough to get signed". Do they really want people to be hearing this shit? do they want to be associated with it? and they just look like they're chucking some crumbs out to their desperate 'fans'. no wonder its devaluing everything.

    if you're gonna do free, do it properly - or better still, do 'pay what you want'. We put out a pay what you want album this year and made over a grand from it - it can work, even on an underground level

  3. Secret Agent Gel 30 October 2010 at 21:41

    I think you are addressing two different things.

    People are giving away music for free, and people are becoming less interested in paying for it. Wiley did it, but people don't stop to see why it works for a big name, and not them. They're also likely younger, so this is the only model they've ever known. I'm not saying it's right, but things have changed, and it's time to get creative. We've fallen down the free slippery slope, and anyone who chooses to charge much now is only going to lose. It'd take a sea change to reverse this, and one scab will prevent it. So I just don't think it's going to happen.

    That's all different from people putting out shit music, though. In my experience, quality control tends to take care of itself. It doesn't rectify the non-payment issue, but eventually people either stop downloading shitty music, or the production gets better. Keep in mind "shoddy" is subjective, and often the best someone can do.

    Finally, I know it's different in London, but being in New York, I see nothing wrong with iTunes only distribution. I meanly ideally it includes juno or beatport, but. Vinyl is hardly worth it from any standpoint anymore. If there's a market, sell it, but why take the risk?

    But then I'm a web programmer, so I have to defend the web, don't I?