Last Friday, we published an article titled "How The Follow For Free Download Method Has Failed (And Needs To End)." This article was inspired by producers and our own frustration over how far the method had come. What started as simply liking an artist on Facebook or signing up for their email updates has expanded, with many artists or services asking for likes, signing up for emails, commenting, favoriting, and following on all networks.
This process has become excessive, and we were voicing our opinion on this. We closed out our argument and article title saying this method should end, mostly for emphasis but in many ways quite possibly an overstatement. We really enjoy certain sites that simply ask you to follow involving one simple click, but others have taken this too far and in many ways have ruined the whole concept for us.
When there's a list of things that we are required to do before we can download, that's when we start shaking our heads. When we finally go through these steps after following and favoriting and end up on blank sites, pages that don't work, and endless loopholes, we know it's time to give up.
We have no problem with sites sticking to the classics, but what we really want to end is the excessive use of this idea. This might not have been thoroughly conveyed, and in reality our views are more aligned with Sean Glass than both sides might have realized at first, but took some deep thinking and back and forth to realize this.
The burgeoning producer and founder of Win Music voiced his opinions on the matter in an open letter to us, and we respect his stance in the music industry and wanted to give others a chance to read as well. Read what Sean Glass had to say below.
Dear Magnetic Magazine and Jordan Calvano,
I read your article last week. First, let me commend you for writing real content about the industry. More is needed, and you’re bold for it. You have me as a reader. But I ask you to bear more responsibility with your platform.
In this case, do not bring down the entire practice of Follow-to-Download due to its abusers. To use a (admittedly extreme) metaphor—don’t bomb an entire city to assassinate a few terrorists. Your primary source has even corrected your reading of his message.
You quoted my friend (and Synagogue congregation member) Sam Lassner’s (aka Prince Fox) tweet “Just tried to download a track that may as well have asked for my SSN- .follow on all socials, email subscription, and comment. C’mon.” “I don’t even mind following people.. but email and comment.. for a bootleg.. come on lol”
He’s not criticizing FtD. He’s criticizing services and artists whom abuse it. They create noise and ill will further complicating our sensitive relationship with listeners in an already sensitive industry. Criticize those individuals and use your position of influence to create reform!
FtD is one of the most powerful tools in our industry. Growing followers directly correlates to streaming numbers, then higher royalties paid. Very few artists, especially in dance music, make significant money on downloads. It is a revenue stream we are happy to give up in favor of growing our profile. Touring revenue grows with follower counts and streaming numbers. Those with scale make real money on streaming royalties. FtD is the best way to get started, and not a bad idea at scale.
I hate the abusive FtD services just like you do. Last week two songs reposted on my Soundcloud that I had not reposted. They were automatically reposted by FtD services that made no mention of said repost. That must stop, and people like you and I are thankfully in a position to do something about it.
UnlockThis and Hyppedit were the perpetrators in this example. I plan on getting in touch with them to ask them to stop offering these options, or at least be more transparent. Toneden and Wavo do a great job. They offer only proven, focused options. They invest in curated communities that grow awareness. I was the top charting FtD on Toneden last week, and I’ve topped Wavo multiple times. Both added a lot of new followers and plays in addition to the FtD services.
Toneden and Wavo have amazing community managers who respond to emails immediately. Reach out to them, they will help you—Ali Shakeri and Alex Bonavia. They are helpful and awesome. To provide transparency and further legitimacy to my commitment to this issue, I want to contextualize. I’m about to launch a new label that is focused on FtD. Every release will be offered as a free download in exchange for the user following the label, the artist, and a charity.
In business model, we are committed to streaming royalties. In marketing model, we are committed to cross-pollinating artists’ fanbases. We will bear the responsibility of delivering great music, being transparent with our audience, and not abusing them by asking too much. I have no affiliation with Toneden nor Wavo, I just love their services and people.