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Jack White The Latest Musician To Experiment With Smart New Business Models

from the another-exception? dept

Every time we discuss musicians or smaller labels that seem to be figuring out how to embrace modern business models by connecting with fans and giving them a reason to buy, we're told that the model doesn't really work beyond a few small "exceptions." Yet, pretty much every day we keep getting sent more and more examples of these "exceptions." At some point we have to wonder what it will take for the disbelievers to recognize that it's not the exception at all. It is the rule.

The latest comes to us care of GrindEFX, who notes that Jack White (of The White Strpies and the Raconteurs) and his own label, Third Man Records, is offering a nice two tiered subscription service, where fans get extra benefits for being members. To be honest, this sounds an awful lot like the business model that we discussed way back in 2003 (and were told it would never work). It's interesting to see this done at the "label" level, where you get benefits from multiple bands on the label. That could definitely work for a label with a lot of bands that have similar sounds that fans are likely to enjoy across the board.

Anyway, we await the explanations in the comments for why this, too, is an exception and why this business model will never work for others.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Lucretious, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 4:08pm

    I'll set up the softball:

    But Mike, Jack White is a big artist! Of course it works for him.

    But what about the poor guys just starting out huh? What about THEM?

    go....

     

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  2.  
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    Seth, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 4:31pm

    Well...

    Technically we have to see if THIS model works before anyone can argue it won't work for others. I mean of course it will work to some extent, but will it be lucritive? Let's have a follow up in a year on this.

     

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  3.  
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    another mike (profile), Jul 9th, 2009 @ 4:46pm

    That could definitely work for a label with a lot of bands that have similar sounds that fans are likely to enjoy across the board.

    Obviously, this needs a label with a fairly large catalog of artists and songs. Otherwise you'd burn through it all at one go and have no reason to renew your subscription. But I think this would work even better for a label with a very diverse catalog than one with a very homogeneous sound. Having all the music sound the same is as bad as having only a few songs. There's no reason to continue the subscription if there's no novelty.

     

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  4.  
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    yourrealname (profile), Jul 9th, 2009 @ 4:58pm

    This isn't going to work

    I dunno, the 2 tiers still seem lame. I'm not sure what they expect people to pay for, other than advance concert tickets (but most bands' fan clubs do that already anyways). The "exclusive video and photo content" will be on YouTube and Flickr within hours for anyone to view for free. The access to chat rooms thing is ridiculous, what kind of chat room does anyone care to use when you have to pay to join? Any band will have free fan created chat rooms that are more popular if there are enough fans to have a chat room in the first place. The "exclusive messages from Third Man Records artists" means they get to spam you first! wow! who cares? nobody! Because it sounds like they'll talk with their fans on the message boards but you can bet they don't want to deal with the losers on the internet when they could be doing drugs. Then the platinum sells gives you "exclusive" 12 & 7 inch records, which will be online within a matter of days of their release to club members. You do get a t-shirt tho, for $20 a month. That's a rip off too. I understand what they're trying to do but they're falling very short on the "give fans a reason to buy" part.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 9:45pm

    Re: Well...

    Do you mean 'will it be as lucritive as suing the pants off everyone who enjoys our music?' I hope not.

     

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  6.  
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    Doctor Strange, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 9:57pm

    Yet, pretty much every day we keep getting sent more and more examples of these "exceptions." At some point we have to wonder what it will take for the disbelievers to recognize that it's not the exception at all. It is the rule.

    Given that I read Techdirt and several other news sites but not 24 hours a day, and given that I don't have bands or people sending me details about bands with these new sort of business models, they still seem pretty exceptional to me. You claim "pretty much every day we keep getting sent more and more." I can think of, off the top of my head, maybe six. Reznor, Sobule, that Devo-related drummer who got a kid to pay him several thousand dollars to hang out for a weekend whose name I can't remember, that sort-of angry woman who posted in here after you wrote an article about her a couple weeks ago and now Jack White. I'm sure there are a few that I knew at one point that I'm now forgetting.

    I'm also sure that there are more of which I'm unaware. Perhaps many more, but a blog post berating people for not being aware of them isn't exactly helpful in raising awareness.

    If you really want people to start seeing a trend or believe that this is now "the rule," it would be very helpful to your argument if you actually collected and presented the information in such a way that helps people draw that conclusion.

    You claim you're hearing about more and more bands that have these models, but you clearly don't write about them all here, because I read the site on a near-daily basis and there is not a new article like this posted every day, or every two days. Even if you did post individual articles, not everyone who visits is going to memorize every post that you make, even if they do visit regularly.

    Have you considered cataloging these artists somewhere? Like, putting together a webpage or a wiki that lists artists with new business models? Where you could solicit input from these artists and others? Gather and post data on these models and whether they are working or not? Soliciting comments on the models? Continuing the "conversation?"

     

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  7.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 9th, 2009 @ 10:55pm

    Re:

    If you really want people to start seeing a trend or believe that this is now "the rule," it would be very helpful to your argument if you actually collected and presented the information in such a way that helps people draw that conclusion.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090621/1626125300.shtml

     

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  8.  
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    Doctor Strange, Jul 10th, 2009 @ 1:06am

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090621/1626125300.shtml

    That is an old blog post containing, primarily, a 30-minute video of you talking. I actually watched it when you first posted it. In it, you mention seven artists (three of which I also mentioned), two companies, and show a quick slide with a bunch of company logos and no details. What conclusions should I draw from that?

    Look, I may be a detractor, but I am not a troll. I'm not even a detractor to the general principle, but I am a detractor to the dogma.

    If you want to make limited claims about the emergence of trends or exciting new ideas, then all the evidence you need to provide is a few examples, a couple of data points, and a graph with a line that goes up and to the right extrapolated from those few data points (as, for example, you basically did in your talk that you linked).

    On the other hand, if you want to make broad claims that there has been a sea-change in the music business and that new business models are "not the exception at all. [They are] the rule." you need to provide more evidence. Much more, in fact. Extraordinary claims, as they say, require extraordinary evidence.

    You claim that "pretty much every day we keep getting sent more and more examples of these 'exceptions.'" You make nearly the same claim in the video.

    Why the resistance to cataloging these and making it really apparent for everyone, especially your detractors? I realize it would take some effort to put together an online clearinghouse or portal for new-business-model artists and companies, but it would go a long way to influencing at least some subset of your detractors and providing more than anecdotal evidence for some of your broader arguments.

    Based on your claims, you should be practically swimming in data to populate it. If these companies and artists are as forward-thinking and community-oriented as you say, they're even likely to help you maintain it wiki-style. Even if you've only gotten a new one every third day this year, that's still 60 examples just since the beginning of the year.

    Also, some bad news: you will never get rid of all your detractors. Nor will you ever provide enough evidence to satisfy everybody. To a disturbingly large number of people, evolution is a lie, 9/11 was an inside job, and men have never been to the moon. These people, you will never convince.

    Ask yourself, though: are your detractors really all these sorts of people? Can you honestly dismiss everyone who still disagrees with you as an un-convinceable nutjob? Have you really done everything you can to collect and present the evidence to back up your arguments?

     

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  9.  
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    SomeGuy (profile), Jul 10th, 2009 @ 6:43am

    Re:

    I think Mike was talking about "having a similar sound," not "sounding the same." Pop music aside, lots of bands can fall into the same genre of music without being audiably identical. The "problem" with large, diverse lables is that there's nothing that says if I like two or three bands signed with them that I'd like any of the others they have signed. That may not be a problem, really, if I'm willing to subscribe based on those two or three artists alone (maybe I'll try out the other stuff and accidentally find something I like), but if there's reason to believe I WILL like the majority of the artists signed by a lable (because they all share a similar sound) I'm probably MORE likely to subscribe.

     

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  10.  
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    SomeGuy (profile), Jul 10th, 2009 @ 6:48am

    Re: This isn't going to work

    what kind of chat room does anyone care to use when you have to pay to join?

    One where you might get to talk to the artists?

    they don't want to deal with ... the internet when they could be doing drugs.

    Oh, you think the artists are chumps, anyways.

    Then the platinum sells gives you "exclusive" 12 & 7 inch records, which will be online within a matter of days of their release to club members.

    The music might be on the Internet, but the records won't be. These days, physical records are obviously meants as novelty collector's items.

     

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  11.  
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    SomeGuy (profile), Jul 10th, 2009 @ 6:57am

    Re:

    if you want to make broad claims that there has been a sea-change in the music business and that new business models are "not the exception at all. [They are] the rule."

    I think what we have here is a failure to communicate. mike isn't say there's been a sea-change and that everyone "in the business" is using these new modles. rather, he's saying that these models work, and here's a dozen example to show it (including large, small, and middling artists). When he says this (the modles work), detractors come around and say, "it works for Artist X because he's big" or "it works for Artist Y because he's small" or "it works for artist Z because she's middling," anlways followed by "but it won't work for the majority of artists." And it's that "but" that Mike's disputing.

    You're right, it's not "the rule" as in "this is the way business gets done," but it is the rule as in "this is sound economics that can work for anyone."

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 10th, 2009 @ 11:28am

    Re: Re: Well...

    Do you both mean "lucrative"?

     

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  13.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jul 11th, 2009 @ 5:11am

    Nice... I bought most of the White Stripes and Raconteurs albums through eMusic when they were still consumer-friendly. Nice to be able to support them more directly in the future if I quit eMusic - though I am amused that "pay-per view live concerts" are listed as a benefit for people on the first paid tier (you pay your membership to be eligible to pay more for viewing live concerts)?

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Dave, Aug 8th, 2009 @ 5:45am

    Re: This isn't going to work

    I know I'm way late on reading this, my google reader is overloaded... however, there's a small band... they were big in the 90's... Pearl Jam. Free to view the forum, have to be a fanclub member (pay) to post. Less junk posts (still some of course).

     

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