How ‘Free’ Became a Best Seller

Its quite exciting to know the outcomes of trends and initiatives we were tracking last year (Refresh your minds by rewinding back to “Free! Free! Free! and “On Free Music“).

Which MP3 album topped the charts in 2008?

“And the results…”

*deep breath*

The best selling MP3 album of the year was free

The best-selling MP3 album at Amazon in 2008 was Nine Inch Nails’ Ghosts I-IV, which was released free under a Creative Commons license.

NIN fans could have gone to any file sharing network to download the entire CC-BY-NC-SA album legally. Many did, and thousands will continue to do so. So why would fans bother buying files that were identical to the ones on the file sharing networks? One explanation is the convenience and ease of use of NIN and Amazon’s MP3 stores. But another is that fans understood that purchasing MP3s would directly support the music and career of a musician they liked. The next time someone tries to convince you that releasing music under CC will cannibalize digital sales, remember that Ghosts I-IV broke that rule, and point them here.

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