I conducted a poll on Twitter to see how musicians view their own music — service or product?

The results were overwhelmingly “product,” not “service.” I wondered if this was how most people actually view the music they make…

This is a question I’ve been thinking about a lot. How do I want to think about the music I make? And will it change the way I share music?

First, let me define a “product” and a “service” (I know definitions are boring, but stick with me).

Product: an article or substance that is manufactured or refined for sale.

Service: 1) the action of helping or doing work for someone, or 2) a system supplying a public need such as transport, communications, or utilities such as electricity and water.

So then I ask: do I want to sell my music as a product, or provide my music to people as a need and a help? Should I approach this like a nonprofit or a business?

Both ways are fine, but for different reasons.

The big labels sell products. Their ultimate goal — no matter how much they love music and want to help artists succeed — is money. They need everything down to the bottom dollar to count.

Justin Beiber. Product.

Adele. Product.

Shawn Mendes. Product.

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This isn’t a bad thing — people gotta make money. But nonprofits are great too.

Here are the positives for both viewing your music as a product and as a service. Which positives do you like better?

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Some artists have been a service to me (see the video below). Some artists have made music that has legitimately helped me get through tough stuff.

And I want my music to do that for people.

I want people to say, “Man, Caleb’s song really helped me cope with this or that” or “Caleb’s music makes me feel [insert emotion].”

So I’ve decided: my music is a service. Whatever music skills I have, I want to use them to help others.

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