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Thursday, March 3, 2011

An Artist Subscription Model That Works

Recently Jill Havercamp wrote an interesting article over at Music Think Tank called "6 Case Studies On Successful Online Music Marketing." Although all of the examples are good (some I've written about here before), one jumped out at me.

Matthew Ebel runs a subscription site for his super fans that he says provides him 26% of his income - all from just 40 fans! His packages range from $5/month to $15/month, but he has annual options that go for as much as $499, and that one's sold out.

So what do you get as a subscriber?
   * Members-only parties
   * VIP seating at shows
   * Access to new music as soon as he creates it
   * New live concert recordings every month
   * Sessions with individual tracks for remixing
   * Behind-the-scene sketches, drafts, and ideas, and more.

Now 40 fans isn't a huge number, and 26% of his income may or may not amount to much, but I think that just the fact that Matthew was willing to try subscription validates that this model is viable even for an artist without a huge amount of national attention. Most artist's would normally be afraid of subscription because you really need dedicated fans to make it work, and it takes a lot of work to make the subscription worthwhile to keep the fans happy.

Good work, Matthew. You're a great example of what can happen for an artist in Music 3.0.

You can view Matthew's site here and view his subscription page here.

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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Stones Sell Their Catalog Online In Hi-Res

Considering that hi-definition downloads was just something I touched on in a recent post, it's interesting to see that the Rolling Stones are offering their entire catalog of 27 albums digitally online for the first time. What's different is that the albums will be available in full 176.4 or 88.2kHz/24 bit uncompressed form at HDtracks.

The price for these downloads are a premium $19.95 for the 88.2k version, and 29.95 for the 176.4k version, which is quite a jump from the normal $9.99 that you pay for an MP3/AAC download on iTunes or Amazon MP3. HDtracks is no startup in that it already has 5,400 albums and 100,000 customers, but the Stones will be the biggest act in their stable so far.

This is all well and good and it will be an interesting experiment to see just what the sales and revenue will be from this venture, but until a current major artist signs on, we probably really won't know what the appetite is for hi-res tracks. The problem is that not that many artists today actually record at extended sample rates like 88.2, 96, 176.4 or 192k. For artists that recorded their work on analog tape, transfer to any of these digital formats is easy, but that format all but went away about a decade ago.

While it's true that a small contingent of artists still record on tape, it's a dying breed. Tape costs are high, and machine maintenance is higher, which is a limitation to the so-called "audiophile" downloads. But even 44.1kHz/16bit CD quality would be a vast improvement than what we're now used to online. With bandwidth and storage costs going lower all the time, this just might be an idea who's time will soon come.
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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Turning Radio Airplay Into Sales

Any artist or band that has gotten radio airplay knows that it doesn't necessarily translate into sales. Once upon a time before Music 3.0 maybe more so, but certainly not today. The biggest problem in the past was having the product available in the local stores to coincide with airplay, but that's not necessary or even possible today when most music is purchased online.

That being said, getting people to pull the trigger to purchase isn't easy. Here's a video from Nimbit's co-founder Phil Antoniades that outlines a way of using station ID's and promo codes to help turn airplay into sales.



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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The 8 Keys To Fan Communication

It's great to have fans, but in order to keep them, you've got to communicate with them. They want it. They crave it. And the interaction is vitally important to maintaining your fan base. That being said, if you're not careful, you can lose a fan just as easily as you've gained one. Here's an excerpt from Music 3.0: A Survival Guide To Making Music In The Internet Age outlining the 8 keys to fan communication, to keep your interaction with your fans both healthy and satisfying.
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There is a tipping point where the fan goes from being informed to feeling intruded upon. The leader of the tribe must have a feel for where that point is and be sure to never cross it.
1. Talk to your fans, not at them. Don’t try to sell them, but keep them informed. Anything that reads like ad copy might be counterproductive. Always treat them with respect and never talk down to them.
2. Engage in communication. Communication is a two-way street. Fans want to know that they’re being listened to. You don’t have to answer every email, but you have to acknowledge that you heard it. The more questions you ask, polls you supply, and advice you seek, the more your fans will feel connected to you.
3. Keep your promises. If you say you’re going to do something, do it in a timely fashion. Don’t let your fans wait. If you promise you’re going to email a link and post a song, sooner is always better.
4. Stay engaged. Even if you’re only sending something simple like a link, take the time to engage the fan. Tell her about upcoming gigs, events, or releases. Take a poll. Ask for advice. This is a great opportunity for communication, so take advantage of it.

5. Utilize preorders. If you have a release coming out soon, take preorders as soon as you announce it, even if it’s free. It’s best to get people to act while their interest is high, and it gives the fan something to look forward to. To motivate the fan for a preorder, it sometimes helps to include exclusive content or merchandise.
6. Appearance means a lot. Style counts when talking to fans. Make sure everything looks good and is readable. Spelling or grammar mistakes reflect badly on you. Try to keep it simple but stylish, but if you or your team don’t have the design chops to make it look good, then it’s better to just keep things simple and readable.
7. Cater to ├╝berfans. All of the members of your tribe are passionate, but some are more passionate than others. Fans have different needs and wants, and it’s to everyone’s benefit if you can cater to them all. Try always to include a premium or deluxe tier for every offering, such as a free T-shirt or backstage pass as a reward for posting, a free ticket to an upcoming show, some signed artwork, some extra songs—anything to satiate the ├╝berfan’s interest.
8. Give them a choice. Give fans numerous ways to opt-in, since not everyone wants to receive information in the same way. Ask if they would rather receive info by email, SMS, or even snail mail. Ask if they’d like to receive info on upcoming shows, song releases, video content, or contests. And ask how often they’d like be contacted. 


You can read other excerpts on the Music 3.0 pages on my website.
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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Radiohead And The Quest For Higher Quality Audio

Radiohead's last release, In Rainbows, was a watershed moment in Music 3.0 in that they asked their fans to pay whatever amount they wanted, and were rewarded with more sales for more money than they ever anticipated.

This time around for their new album The King Of Limbs, the band is taking a different approach, this time charging a fixed price, but with a twist.

1) There are two distinct products - a digital only product, and what they call the world's first "Newspaper Album," which consists of two clear vinyl records, a CD, large and small pieces of artwork, plus the digital downloads.

2) The digital downloads only are available in two flavors - MP3 for $9 and WAV for $14. The digital portion of Newspaper Album also dictates the price, with the MP3 price set at $48 and the WAV price at $53.

It will be very interesting to see just what portion of the buying public opts for the higher resolution product. Hopefully, their fans will surprise us all and go for the quality, but don't hold your breath. Whatever the result, Radiohead is once again on the cutting edge of Music 3.0.

Visit the Radiohead King Of Limbs site for more information.


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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

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