UPDATE: this post was written awhile ago, and since then, Bandcamp has gone ahead and made music discovery through fan accounts even better with a little something called 'Music Feed' and have also released a sweet app that lets customers listen to all the music they've purchased. Which means there are now even more (and probably better) reasons why you should consider giving folks the opportunity to buy your music then the ones I mention in the post below (which was written back in Jan 2013, although the points made are related to those two new reasons). So, if you've ended up here after thinking about making your album a 'Free Download', I think the post below is still worth the read. Just keep in mind while you read it that "if people can't buy your music, then your music also won't show up in anyone's Music Feed or in anyone's Bandcamp app".
Also, you might find this ‘Why U No Talk About Bandcamp?’ post worth a read as well (and this ‘Another Way To Think About Buying Music’ post might also be of interest).
Now, here's that original article...
Yesterday, Bandcamp launched their brilliant Fan Accounts. I wrote a large amount of words on it already (Thank You Bandcamp. And Damn You.), but one point I didn't make in the previous post —as that post was long enough– is a rather important one for anyone releasing music on Bandcamp:
If you want people to download a release for FREE, don't do it as a straight up 'free download', but rather set it as a 'name your price' with a $0 minimum.
The reason for this is that with these new fan accounts, by giving people the choice of giving you a little money for your 'free' release, you are giving people a chance of saying that they 'support' your release. Anyone can still enter a $0 and get it for free, but if you keep your release as a 'free download' you have taken away a fans option of adding your release to their collection. Which also means, you've taken away a fans option of including your release amongst all the other releases that they want other Bandcamp users to see that they recommend.
Even if Bandcamp didn't launch fan accounts, I think it is a smarter move to give people the option of supporting you for an album you're perfectly fine with them having for free. But now more than ever, 'name your price, no minimum' is seriously a better option than setting your release as a 'free download'.
Want a little bit of proof? Just yesterday, me and Benjamin Shaw were talking about how these new fan accounts were making us want to go buy music we already had and Ben mentioned how he asked a friend of his to change an album from 'free download' to 'name your price' so that he could add it to his collection. I've experienced that too.
And I'm sure me and Ben are not the only crazy ones.