Never mind that old saw about setting something free if you love it, but in the world of music, it's amazing how much you can hang on to by just letting go. Yesterday, I was marveling over the Presidents of the United States of America and the killer deal they're giving to fans and would-be fans by delivering four albums for three bucks via an iPhone app, while retaining complete artistic and almost-complete commercial control. Today, having just heard about Denver rapper Dent giving away his entire catalogue, I'm also amazed by a guy named Josh Woodward who is giving away all of his music -- more than 150 songs.
Flying his Creative Commons license like a flag of artistic freedom, the Ohio-based singer-songwriter hosts every single song he's ever recorded on his website, enabling visitors to download high-quality MP3s of single songs or entire albums, all for free. For fetishists who still like to own tangible objects, he also offers CDs for sale at whatever price suits the buyer.
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I first heard of this guy through Coverville, Brian Ibbott's amazing Arvada-based podcast of cover songs, a recent edition of which included Woodward's stunning cover, "Sexy Nation Army," which mashes Justin Timberlake's "Sexyback" with the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army." This cover is far from being representative of Woodward's oeuvre, but it got me curious, and I soon found myself on his website, perusing his songs, some of which have been listened to nearly 40,000 times!
Woodward's website is welcoming, professional and pretty easy to use. He doesn't lay any guilt trips on visitors about getting something for nothing. He just makes it clear that he isn't worrying about distribution, sales or that awful internet word, "monetization." He's hanging on to his artistic freedom, control and integrity, with just two simple priorities, which I think most Denver musicians I know share: 1) create music, and 2) make that music available for others to enjoy.