My gut told me not to. I had put a ton of work into this album (with still much left to be done at that point) and it just felt wrong to give it away for free. The album's worth to me was - well, it was priceless! How could I not charge at least $10 for it??
But my head had different ideas.
I mean it's not like this was the first time that I had encountered this pickle. I had previously asked and resolved these questions regarding my shows and guitar lessons. In these instances, my decision had been that I'd rather have people see me play or be taught than allow finances to become an obstacle. My recorded music was the last bastion of Capitalist aspiration. But why should my music follow a different model?
I worked through these questions with my friends and DIY-musician-cohorts Greg (of Among Giants) and Zach (of Lost Trail), with only about a week left before my album release. They reminded me that at this stage in my career, I just need to have as many people as humanly possible listening to my music. I couldn't let anything be a barrier, including money.
They both recommended to me a website called bandcamp where I could host my music for people to download for free or donate whatever they could. I was still hesitant, but I figured it was inevitable that I'd decide this for my music - sooner or later. I succumbed and began throwing together my very own bandcamp page.
On September 15, I finally released Heliotropism on iTunes, Amazon, and youtube. Then on September 17, the anniversary of the Occupy movement, I made the album available to download for free on bandcamp. And over the course of "12 Days of Heliotropism" I also released the rest of my original albums.
Now you can download it all - my entire catalog of original music - for free! Or leave a tip :)