Sorry, No More Free Music.


For 3.5 years, I offered my entire discography for free download, through the (now gone) Dr. Zoltan website.

Here’s what I was thinking:

1.) I don’t care about my music career.
2.) It’s better for 1,000 people to hear my music for free than it is for 100 people to pay for it.
3.) Most of the great experiences in my life came from handing someone a CD or cassette for free.

Decided not to do it anymore.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the capitalist system of paying for music should be maintained, even in the absence of physical products.

Two simple reasons:

1.) $1 per song is a fair and acceptable system of exchanging value for value. It’s an absurdly low price to pay for a potentially-timeless piece of art.

2.) Free downloading devalues music. In the same way that Netflix devalues movies, and Facebook devalues friendship. The result is endless, superficial browsing rather than a wholesome experience.

I’ve never been a free downloader. I like to pay living artists for their work. When I buy music, I usually buy it on iTunes. It works well. And I’ve enjoyed getting a constant stream of payments from CDBaby over the years, for all those iTunes sales.

Spotify seems to be an OK system. I’ve gotten checks from it already. It’s nice that they keep track, rather than simply exploiting creative people.

I don’t expect the money from my digital sales and streams to ever be impressive, and it’s rarely noticeable. I stopped making “real money” from music in 2007. I just think paying an artist is the honest thing to do. So thank you to the few who have sent me donations over the years. And if you’re one of the people who has downloaded and enjoyed my music for free, PayPal me:

From now on, if you want my stuff, you can find out how to pay for it at

5 thoughts on “Sorry, No More Free Music.

  1. It’s funny to see how every artist comes with his philosophy to pontificate listeners who see themselves treaten (depending the artist’s momentary ideology)as pikers or thieves (Metallica) and then suddenly became free curious and gluttonous music lovers for otheres(NIN, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, etc.).. The fact is : too many music and no more money..

  2. Interesting post. I am the same and like to pay artists for their work, but I’m unsure about assuming reciprocation as an artist myself. The problem is there is so much music and so many musicians pushing their stuff that. Unless you don’t mind being ignored by swathes of potential audience, you have find new ways to package it so that people will want to part with money. I think assuming payment for downloads is just not a step forwards, but I’ll be interested to see how you get on!

  3. A real backwards step in a creative career which seemed to be finding itself…again. The amount of Carl King fans this free music produced would translate to revenue via other channels. This is the first instance I’ve seen of an artist seeing this and the reverting, but it’s clear you delight in presenting yourself as a pioneer. Just in the wrong direction this time…

    I hope this combined with the oft-praising of heartless salesforce fools like Ayn Rand is not an indication of another downwards turn before this upswing in the cycle ever really peaked.

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