How do I put this… Generally, no. Although the occasional exception is made here and there.
We advertised the "free sample" thing once - Somewhere around three dozen requests came in by the time I had a minute to quickly take it down. It was up for less than 24 hours.
No one can keep up with that sort of demand for sample / speculative work if there's a reasonably steady workload.**
We still get plenty of requests -- As the "in thing" at the moment seems to be the "free sample" master. Many of us call it "cattle-calls" (from the general term for theater and modeling auditions where hundreds show up for one part in a production). Some web sites and forums actually add fuel to the fire -- I know more than a few occasions where a "sample request" was made and dozens and dozens
responded. I used to respond to a couple here and there myself, "getting the gig" more times than not.
One time, a client said "We had 63 samples sent and decided on using you." On one hand, sure, that was nice. On the other hand, 62 other engineers
didn't get that gig. That seemed like an incredible waste of time. I don't go into a restaurant looking for a steak and asking for free samples of steak from a dozen different places before I decide where to eat. WIth the occasional recording project, I don't even go to a dozen different studios to find a place to record. I do a little basic research,
find a few places that seem like they might be the "right" place and work from there. Check the gear lists, check the client lists, contact the chief engineer, choose a studio.
One colleague likens the "free sample" craze as "Going downtown and asking h**kers for a sample b**w-job"
(which I found absolutely hilarious - and unnervingly relevant).
** I'm not trying to 'diss' the places that offer free samples - If they have enough time to do them, that's great. MASSIVE isn't the biggest shop in the world, but we aren't exactly an unknown quantity either -- We have a solid reputation of quality work. Believe me - We're absolutely grateful that we're busy enough to not need
to do a lot of "sample" work. So here's the final word
--- If you've done your research - If you've listened to samples, looked at gear lists, checked references, rates and all that nifty stuff and you're torn between here and some other place, let me know and I'll see if we can set you up with some sort of sample. On the filp-side, if you're sending a file (or a bunch of files, as it happens occasionally) to 25 different studios without even bothering to seriously check any information on them, you should probably do a little research first.
Communication and research are key in this business -- And "blind samples" are rarely the way to find the best facility for you.