The record label co-founded by Bright Eye’s Coner Oberst, Team Love, is giving away its catalog along with new material on a rotating basis via a newly launched Team Love Library. Oberst and company’s playful concept has planted a field of viral marketing potential, but they forgot the fertilzer to help it grow.
“When Team Love started we had the simple and possibly self-defeating notion that posting all our albums on the website as free downloads would be a good detour around the wreckage of the music industry…” reads a post on the Library’s site. “Five years later and the debate still drones in the background, and…we’ve decided to reshape out policy in a different direction and introduce the Team Love Library. Each month…(or so) we’ll be rotating the Library’s selections, featuring different Team Love albums as well as exclusive content such as unreleased songs, live or remixed versions of TL favorites.”
Tongue planted firmly in cheek, the message concludes. “The library
will be open to the public 24/7, and as we have an endless abundance of MP3’s (we fucked up and made too many of them), anything you take from the library is yours to keep. You will not be notified if you fail to return something on time, and you will not lose your library privileges if you share selections with friends.”
For only the price of an email address users get Library access and Team Love potentially grows its tribe. But missing on the new site is any social networking component, street team or suggestions for fan action. If giving all this music away is to be worthwhile, then library users derserve a place to behind the stacks to whisper about likes and dislikes. If Jenny Lewis gives away tracks for free; she’s earned the right to ask the free downloader – if they like what they hear – to share it with three friends along with the news that she’s on tour.
Free only has value if it sparks action – to be part of something, to contribute, to share, to buy.