One significant benefit is that the money goes directly to the artist, and not to the pockets of music industry intermediaries -- "Most of the money that is being made is going to the record company and the executives," says Hatfield in one interview. So maybe the future of music is a kind of online buskering.
Songs from Juliana Hatfield's music vault. Having released In Exile Deo last year, Juliana Hatfield is now sharing songs that didn't fit on any of her albums. She explains in a letter that she'd rather freely share these songs than let them sit around "gathering dust." Those who download the songs can opt to make a PayPal donation. I've always thought this could be a viable business model for some artists -- distribute your work freely and get fans to give you donations. I think most people would love to support their favorite artists in this way.