Atlanta, Georgia. November 24, 2009.“Making records has never been about making money for me”. So as the 98 Degrees founder and multi-platinum recording artist Jeff Timmons prepares not only to self- release his new album, but to launch a new non-traditional, multimedia distribution company, he thought long and hard how best to use the internet, “It is my plan to generate such a buzz with the totally free campaign, that it might create a new business model. This model will consist of the artist using their music as a commercial, and after they've cultivated a large enough fan base, costs of the record will be subsidized by corporate sponsorships.” He continued, “Now, I'm not expecting that to happen with this album cycle, but I'm betting on the music. I feel so strongly that after people listen to it they will become loyal fans, and I will find away to make money from that later.”
Given his unusual history as an independent artist, Jeff decided to embrace the indisputable fact of music in the 21st century, “to make my record, little by little and available for download on my website.”
As Jeff embarks on this new approach to the music industry with both enthusiasm and curiosity and maybe with a twinge of anxiety, there still remains a question that needs to be answered: Why is this soft-spoken, mild-mannered, thirty-something talented musician/producer/songwriter doing this? His response is simply, “I want a lot of people to hear my sound – my music.”
However, it’s important that people understand the free download concept isn’t a frivolous act. Jeff describes this as a key part of his promotional campaign, along with radio and press promotions, live shows, and music videos. It’s a bet that the resources of the Internet can make possible a new way for musicians to find their audience and forge a meaningful artistic career built on support from cooperative, not adversarial, relationships.
Jeff realizes that digital files are the primary means by which a huge segment of the population is exposed to new music but he also believe that plenty of music lovers in the world will buy a record once they’ve heard it – whether via radio or computer.
Jeff believes there’s an inherent qualitative difference at work—not only between MP3s and CDs, but between clicking a mouse and finding a record on the shelves of a good record store. These experiences are not mutually exclusive – they’re interdependent facets of music fandom, and equally important considerations for an independent musician in my position.
Even with the proliferation of websites and magazines paying attention to independent music these days, it remains difficult for independent musicians like Timmons to get exposure, regardless of how good they may be (or how successful they once were). Making the record freely downloadable removes the main barrier that exists between an artist and the world of potential listeners. And it means the world; the web’s reach is everywhere.
Finally, Jeff has this to say, “Only those not confident in their music will be intimidated by this.”