Don Bartlett Explains How Joe Pug Gave Away Free CDs To Connect With Fans

from the and-it-worked dept

There are just a few hours left if you want in on the special promotion.

With our CwF + RtB experiment in full swing, we've asked some of the participants involved to provide some guest posts about their own experience with new business models and new promotions. Don Bartlett manages Joe Pug, one of the artists involved in our Techdirt Music Club. If you order both the Techdirt Music Club and the Techdirt Book Club before midnight PT, tonight, we'll throw in a free Techdirt hoodie, or a free lunch with Mike Masnick. Bartlett and Pug ran a fascinating experiment starting last year, where they experimented with giving away totally free CDs (not just downloads). Bartlett agreed to write a guest post about what they learned:

It's hard to glance at a music blog these days without finding an article talking about the "new model" for the music industry. As the conversation advances, thoughtful commentary has popped up from sources as diverse as Mark Cuban and Trent Reznor. From my perspective, too many musicians have adopted the sound bytes that "labels are dead" and "you don't need a label" without fully thinking through the ramifications of that. While it is certainly true that many labels have backed themselves into a tough spot for a variety of reasons, the good ones still provide essential infrastructure such as distribution, publicity, financing, promotion and expertise. As we move towards a world where labels have less of a role, it's more important than ever for bands to become well-versed in how to handle these duties themselves.

For developing bands, one of the most critical parts is marketing and promotion. Fortunately, this is an area where the playing field is more open than ever. We are excited for Joe Pug to be a part of the Techdirt Music Club because we share the ideology of "Connect With Fans" and "Reason to Buy." These are core principles that every band should abide by. On the surface, it sounds very simple. The tricky part is to take your unique situation and determine what methods will achieve those goals.

In the case of Joe Pug, we felt very strongly that his songs would connect with people. This is not something we decided emotionally, but rather by looking at his history with existing fans, sales numbers, the responses he was getting from live shows, and other objective metrics. The challenge for us, then, became getting these songs in new ears in an efficient, cost effective way. We printed up CDs with two of his songs on them, along with contact info and a note that the full record was available on iTunes. We started by passing them out after shows at local venues. We had success, but we were casting too wide of a net, and it wasn't cost efficient. This is when it occurred to me that we should be inviting the people who are most excited about Joe's music to help. You can't possibly ask for more targeted marketing... people are intimately familiar with their friends' musical tastes, so if they're passing the CD along -- there is a high probability that they will be interested.

The results were instant, and overwhelming. Every possible metric jumped immediately... physical sales, digital sales, MySpace plays, Facebook friends, attendance at shows and merchandise sales. And somewhat unexpectedly, the fans who were requesting the samplers were emailing him about how excited they were to help. Without really intending to, we identified Joe's most enthusiastic fans in a place where we could interact with them and reward them with special treatment. It became one of our primary ways of connecting with fans, and the two songs were connecting well enough to give the new fans a reason to buy the full record or come out to a show. It is important to note here that it's not up to me to make moral judgments about the price of music. It's my job to look at the available revenue streams and find a way to maximize them for my client.

When it comes to connecting with fans, what worked for Joe may not work for someone else. Each situation has a unique path between band and fan. Identify your fan base (or distinct segments of your fan base for larger bands), then take a close look at how they interact with music. A younger fan might scan his RSS feed for blog posts and trade songs with his friends over AIM. An older fan might not even know how to download an mp3 into his iTunes. A busy professional might ask the clerk at a boutique what is playing while she shops. An electronic music fan is a whole lot more likely to share a widget than a folk music fan. Successfully identifying these factors within your fan base is probably the most crucial part of the equation, in my estimation.

There is a great deal of discussion these days about the "new model," but really it is only new to the music industry. Develop a truly great product that people are legitimately excited about. Invest the time, effort and money to market that product efficiently, and leverage small successes into larger ones. Eventually, the successes become large enough that everyone who gambled on the product gets their share of the profits. This is hardly MBA-level material.

What is "new" is that artists are more free than ever to execute their own marketing plans, rather than relying on the inefficient, bloated ones many labels push. I have been told many by people with nice cars, important business cards and famous friends that Joe's sampler CD program was wasteful and even "degrading to my artist." I respectfully disagreed. A year into his career, with only one EP released, Joe is playing Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and Newport and touring with some of his idols. 14 months after its release, the EP sells more each month than the month previous. Is he rich? Is he famous? No. He is, however, making a very respectable living as a musician and laying the foundation for a fantastic career. That, I would hold, is the "new model".

For the Techdirt Music Club Joe is offering up a special version of the EP, with specially designed Techdirt-inspired cover art, and some unreleased songs. Check it out.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    NotHowardZinn, Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 4:45pm

    Who?

    Who? And who? I'm sure the business models for a streetside lemonade stand are applicable to Pepsi and Coke. Keep digging....

     

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  2.  
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    JJ, Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 5:24pm

    Re: Who?

    > Who? And who? I'm sure the business models for a streetside lemonade stand are applicable to Pepsi and Coke. Keep digging....

    And, of course, if it had been a name you recognized, you'd be complaining that this only worked because he was well-known. What a sad life you must lead to go through life hating on people more creative than yourself.

    I say, NICE JOB Joe. I hadn't heard of your music before, but I'm checking it out now...

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 5:25pm

    press and hold left mouse button and highlight "joe pug". right click on selection. navigate to "play "joe pug" on fire.fm..."
    weird how easy it is to find a name or piece of music etc. what happened to having to goto the music shop and having to wade through all the crap before you found what you wanted.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 5:25pm

    Good article, but moreover, great music. Looks like Joe just got more people for his concert in Madison.

     

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  5.  
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    NotHowardZinn, Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 5:30pm

    Re: Re: Who?

    Wow, JJ...zero to personal in 4 lines. My macro point was that Mike likes to use tiny little examples and claim they are applicable to the universe. I made no comment at all on the artist or his art. But I had no idea who he is (yes, I went and looked him up, of course) other than he's in bed with Mike on his "experiment."

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 5:38pm

    Re: Who?

    I was going to say that I am starting to notice that most of the "successful" cases are artists in non-mainstream music, which would suggest a very narrow market of potential fans.

    I would say it's much easier to connect with fans when you are playing a super narrow niche market kinda of music.

    I will the manager credit for something, is realizing that record labels provide many important tools for an artist. He is also smart enough to state the obvious "When it comes to connecting with fans, what worked for Joe may not work for someone else", which is really key.

     

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  7.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 5:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Who?

    My macro point was that Mike likes to use tiny little examples and claim they are applicable to the universe

    Hmm. Please point to where I have done that. I have said -- repeatedly -- that it's different for every artist. We don't think that one single business model will work, but understanding different ways to connect, and different ways to give people a reason to buy is the key today. In fact, I've been quite explicit that simply copying what another artist is doing is a bad idea and is unlikely to work.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 6:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Who?

    On your next post, maybe you can use the "you need to learn econ 101" or "that isn't what I am saying at all" line.

    I just think you don't realize how your blog reads. I use to think I was the only one who thought you were trying to uproot the entire music business and replace it with, well, not much. Then I started to notice other comments (usually put down quickly with some dismissive replies from the top), that showed me that I wasn't the only one reading your blog in that manner.

    "In fact, I've been quite explicit that simply copying what another artist is doing is a bad idea and is unlikely to work."

    You have also been quite explicit in saying that the music industry is a dinosaur, a buggy whip business, run by morons, etc. Your posts taken as a whole suggest someone who isn't trying to save the music business, but someone trying to toss it out the window (with copyright, patent, and trademark laws, it seems... oh yeah, let's not forget newspapers). I don't think it was your original intention, but you have painted yourself into a very militant corner of the debate, and that posts like this one suggest this is where the music business should be.

    All I can say is I hope it sells lotttttttts of t-shirts, because you are almost becoming a corporate shill for your own stuff.

     

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  9.  
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    bigpicture, Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 7:09pm

    Creativity

    If Joe is creative and produces music of wide audience appeal, then he requires promotion, recording, and distribution services to reach this wide audience. If he uses the internet and has a manager with some moxie then this should cost him about 10% to 20% of his generated revenues, and not the 90%+ that the record labels take.

    If more artists control their own destinies there may be less obscurity for the talented but unlucky ones, and more selection for the fans and less recording companies That may be how this will change the current market dynamic.

     

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  10.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 7:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who?

    use to think I was the only one who thought you were trying to uproot the entire music business and replace it with, well, not much. Then I started to notice other comments (usually put down quickly with some dismissive replies from the top), that showed me that I wasn't the only one reading your blog in that manner.

    Heh. Stated by someone with a long history of replying to themselves and pretending to be multiple people. We have about 700,000 people who read the site. As far as I can tell, there are about 5 people (some of whom post under multiple names, or pretend to be different people) who really dislike me. Most of them post from IP addresses that reveal who they work for, which makes it especially amusing.

    You have also been quite explicit in saying that the music industry is a dinosaur, a buggy whip business, run by morons, etc.

    Not true. I'm not sure why you feel the need to lie, other than an inability to counter what I actually say. I have said, repeatedly, that the music industry is thriving, not that it is a buggy whip business. The business of selling plastic discs, on the other hand, is a buggy whip business. We can discuss that if you'd like. I've never called those who run it morons, either. The only time I specifically referred to an exec at a major label with such a derogatory tone was when he referred to himself that way, and I pointed it out. I may refer to certain actions as being braindead or moronic, but not the people.

    Anyway, it's always fun chatting with you, though I really wish you would stop making stuff up. It really makes it difficult to take you seriously. Sometimes I think you actually have something interesting to say, and then, seconds later, you're making up lies again.

    Still, I enjoy it. It's a nice break from actual work. Though, these days, I'm starting to lean towards spending more time talking to all the artists emailing me examples of this stuff working for them. But, if you want to keep insisting it can't possibly work, so be it. I love seeing these business models work. I can't understand why you would be so against people learning to adapt and doing so successfully.

     

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    bigpicture, Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 7:13pm

    NotHowardZinn Re: Re: Re: Who?

    The atom is a model of solar system, the crystal is a model of the galaxy etc etc. The micro and the macro correspond, and seemingly according to quantum physics all run by thought.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 7:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who?

    "Heh. Stated by someone with a long history of replying to themselves and pretending to be multiple people."

    Wrong. Sorry. I am only one person. You have proven yourself the "fool" on this one.

    "it's always fun chatting with you, though I really wish you would stop making stuff up."

    Oh geez, this one again. Standard Mike dismissal #3.

     

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  13.  
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    MostInterestingMan (profile), Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 7:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who?

    Hmm.

     

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  14.  
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    MostInterestingMan (profile), Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 8:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who?

    Stay Thirsty, My Friend.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 8:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who?

    "I love seeing these business models work. I can't understand why you would be so against people learning to adapt and doing so successfully."

    Now who is making stuff up? Come on Mike, I would love for everyone to be successful - but I also don't want them to kids themselves into thinking they are on their way to the big time following these "business models".

    For desperate musicians who want to make it to the big times, to actually have a career in music, they are reading your stuff and thinking they are really onto something. Yet, so far all of the examples you are showing pretty much moves musicians from "bar band" to "somewhat well known bar band".

    On yeah, as for morons, consider: "moronic-music-industry dept" - http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20020404/028212.shtml

    You have a whole section for it.

     

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  16.  
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    herodotus (profile), Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 8:52pm

    I, for one, will happily refer to the entire music industry as moronic. I think, however, that Mike is much more circumspect.

    But as for 'the big times', they mean little to people who actually care about music.

    When he died in 1945, Anton Webern was an obscure figure with not a single hit to his name. At the same time, Kay Kyser was popular as hell, with songs in the hit parade and a career in radio and film as well.

    Today, Kay Kyser is an embarrassing footnote in the history of jazz, while Anton Webern is one of the most influential figures in 20th century music.

    The 'big times' are mostly for teenagers who actually give a shit about whoever happens to be the celebrity of the week.

    For adults, not so much.

     

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  17.  
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    zcat (profile), Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 8:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who?

    AC's comments are hilarious because even in this very article you've already said the better labels can "still provide essential infrastructure such as distribution, publicity, financing, promotion and expertise" and "what worked for Joe may not work for someone else. Each situation has a unique path between band and fan."

    Not "all labels are buggy whip makers".

    Not "everyone can just do exactly what works for NiN"

    Do the AC's even read the articles before trying to pretend that you're making the strawman argument they'd like you to be making?

     

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  18.  
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    Don Bartlett, Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 9:01pm

    @NotHowardZinn While you're not the first one to argue the point, I have yet to hear a convincing argument why the program wouldn't be scalable. If it continues to deliver the same ratio of new fans per marketing dollar spent, I see no reason why it wouldn't translate to a larger platform. If anything economies of scale would help the equation. While we certainly couldn't put personal thank you notes in each package, i'm sure we could come up with some other way of showing our appreciation to the fans helping spread the word. And adding a few extra interns to help with the logistics isn't going to break the bank.

    If there was any moral to the story from my end, it has nothing to do with uprooting anything, or calling anyone morons. It has to do with building a career for my artist in a sensible, efficient manner given the situation presented to me. Part of that is realizing that it makes a lot more sense to build up to being "pepsi and coke" by developing a well managed, well taken care of fan base than it is to throw a 2 million dollar marketing budget at it and hope someone believes you when you tell them you already are.

    Yrs. with a twist of lemon,

    DB

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 9:17pm

    Re:

    Don,

    First off, let me say that your story is one of the first ones that Mike has put out there that has an actual artist going from zero to something reasonable in an amount of time that makes some sense for the artist, using connective methods.

    I do want to say however that I think one of the reasons you are seeing such success is because of the music that Joe makes. He is in an extremely narrow niche (folk music) which I suspect is helping his cause quite a bit. Because this niche isn't use to get much radio play, or getting much media attention, the fans are a more tightly knit community. In such a slow moving marketplace, a new face with new music is certainly going to be something that the fans will be into and share with other fans directly.

    I think to be fair, you should also clarify some of the "accomplishments". The Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza things were not main stage or even side stage appearances, but one lounge appearance, one open commons area performance area, and one off site after show, if I am correct. It is certainly an accomplishment to be anywhere on the bill of any of these shows, but I think that the story leaves the impression that Joe might be opening up for NIN or Bruce Springsteen, not exactly the case.

    I hope that things go well for Joe, I am sure he is looking to trade in his full time hammer and nails job for a full time guitar and microphone job.

     

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  20.  
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    Don Bartlett, Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 9:57pm

    @AC

    First of all...I agree without reservation that the music is the number one factor in not only Joe's situation, but any situation. I could execute the exact same plan with 100 other artist on not have any effect at all. In the end, an artist needs to write songs that people want to hear over and over again. Bottom line. There is no success without that, or at least any that lasts. As I said in my original post, we knew that Joe's songs would connect with people, and it provided the foundation for our marketing plan.

    As per the tightly knit/niche thing....i disagree, but time will bear that out one way or another. He has toured with Steve Earle, and he has toured with Horse Feathers...and both crowds seemed to react just as favorably. The next few years will be the judge of that, but I like the cards Joe is holding. Either way, we have identified an effective way of connecting with HIS fans that seems to be working.

    As for the accomplishments (which, in my ceaseless arrogance i will leave the quotes off of), of course they weren't main stage. The kid has a single EP self released a year ago. The Bonnaroo was on one of the smaller stages, and Lollapalooza is a 3pm slot Saturday slot on the BMI stage, in between Langhorne Slim and Blind Pilot. If that is considered "not even a sidestage" then I'm certain some others will be as surprised as I. The offsite you refer to will be sold out by tomorrow afternoon, as have been the last five shows he's played in chicago. In rereading my piece i still don't see how I implied he was opening for Springstein or anything of the like, but if I did so that certainly wasn't my intention. NPR has his full set from Newport Folk Festival this weekend up for free download if you'd care to check it out. http://tinyurl.com/l8s3d4 He didn't open for The Decemberists there, but I think the crowd reaction will give you a good idea that he's playing to a bit more than spillover from the beer line.

    I have a hard time working up any enthusiasm to defend myself or joe, or the way we've conducted our business. We've simply done what works for us, and we'll continue to hope the results speak for themselves.

    As for that hammer, Joe hasn't picked it up in a year.

     

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  21.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 10:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who?

    Come on Mike, I would love for everyone to be successful - but I also don't want them to kids themselves into thinking they are on their way to the big time following these "business models".

    Um, the only one focused on "the big time" appears to be you -- repeatedly saying that none of these models count unless the people become huge internationally known rockstars heard on the radio.

    I've never said that. All I've said, repeatedly, is that these business models can help you do *better* than what you could have done otherwise. That's it. That means if you suck, you're still not going to get very far, but you might be able to build up a slightly bigger audience. But if you're good, this is a good way to capitalize on that.

    I still haven't quite figured out what you're "against" here, other than the strawmen you keep tossing up.

    On yeah, as for morons, consider: "moronic-music-industry dept" - http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20020404/028212.shtml

    Heh. You had to dig deep for that one. You go back 7 years to a silly post, and don't happen to mention what it's about? You're reaching.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 11:44pm

    Re:

    The Nay-Sayers baseline their success off of "Rockin' Robin".

    Someday they'll get it.

     

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  23.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Aug 4th, 2009 @ 12:15am

    Could we get some numbers?

    Any chance we can get some sales numbers and income numbers for Joe? It would be helpful to compare it to some of the artists I know.

     

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  24.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Aug 4th, 2009 @ 12:31am

    Re:

    "He has toured with Steve Earle, and he has toured with Horse Feathers...and both crowds seemed to react just as favorably."

    If you don't mind my asking, as an opener was he paid, or was this a buy on? And if he was paid, how much? This sort of thing always comes up when artists are looking to tour with bigger bands and it's helpful to compare numbers.

     

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    inov8v (profile), Aug 4th, 2009 @ 3:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who?

    I think the name "Anonymous Coward" says it all and the morning humor has been fun to read as I drink my coffee. I think what Mike has laid out transcends the music industry well. I've enjoyed following the experiment, and have my staff thinking about its application. So, I'd like to offer a pragmatic thank you for getting many of us thinking more broadly!

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2009 @ 5:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Who?

    "Heh. You had to dig deep for that one. You go back 7 years to a silly post, and don't happen to mention what it's about? You're reaching."

    No, actually, that was "search engines are your friends". less than a minute to turn it up. I didn't even bother to look at the date, because, hey, everything you say is just as important, nothing ever gets stale. Plus you always tell us to go back and read your posts to understand you more. Well, there you go. Just following orders sir.

    "Um, the only one focused on "the big time" appears to be you -- repeatedly saying that none of these models count unless the people become huge internationally known rockstars heard on the radio."

    Not at all. It's that you take potshots at "the recording industry" all the time. I do see you saying "the music industry works except for some smaller cases on the edges", you pretty much keep saying it's all a bunch of greedy people with a worn out business model. That's fine, so if their business model is worn out or out of date, I have to assume that the business models you then push are replacements for what is worn out.

    Now, if you want to say "this is only for the small end, and likely will never scale", that's fine. But if you are going to try to kill the elephant (the industry), assume that people are also looking at you for the replacement.

    There are no strawmen (another classic Mike dismissal), just doing what you have told us to do: read more of what you post. You talk about tearing down the music business. You talk about new business models. Isn't it a pretty logical conclusions that the new business models are to replace what was torn down?

    Are you now saying that you don't have a replacement business model for "the industry"? Is the industry in reality still the best solution?

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2009 @ 5:19am

    Re:

    DOn,

    Good for Joe. Putting down the hammer is probably the biggest step in the process, no longer needing the day job to pay for the music, getting the music to pay for itself is an accomplishment that most artists won't ever made.

    Actually, you will notice I didn't mention the Newport thing, mostly because I thought of it as the perfect venue for his music. It's the right people, and it is a place he can easily shine as brightly as some of the long term leaders in the folk music field.

    The Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza deals are great for him, but I think that is perhaps a little more of a marginal crowd for him. the BMI stage is, if I get it right, is the stage in the middle area between the two main stages, often a transition area between one show or another (and a place that many people hang out if they don't like the current act playing the big stage). It's a cool location that will likely net him some fans. All my comment was is just to make it clear that playing at these events doesn't suggest he is a featured artist yet, that would be an accomplishment that would be beyond most people's wildest dreams. Obvious, just getting out there in a place where a large number of music fans (of any type) are is great for Joe, and certainly will boost his fan awareness.

    You never have to defend success. Like many people here, I am interested in the truth and the facts of how you got there, and what it means. Since there is enough misleading and "half truths" on this blog, I tend to poke a little hard to find the bottom, so we know where we all stand. You and Joe have accomplished something remarkable, and I wish you much luck as you two continue the journey. Perhaps the main stage at Lollapalooza or such isn't that far off in the end:

    AC

     

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    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 4th, 2009 @ 7:16am

    Brilliant

    Brilliant !!!! Thanks mike .... everytime a haze/flame fest happens here I get great ideas from the conflict....

    233 note/entry) Modifiable Business Models with drop and drag capabilities of options.

    234) Modifiable Business Models section, allows for multiple models to be run on the same album or song. (allows statistics on what works for a given artist)

    235) Modifiable Business Models section, is usable by fans, artists, promoters, re-mixers, managers, etc

    236) Modifiable Business Models section, links to accounting server,

    237) Modifiable Business Models section, can be set up to use in group mode.

    238) Modifiable Business Models section, has a programable schedule, and links to or can be used with project management software.

    239) Modifiable Business Models section, allows for alerts SMS, email, etc. On events, milestones, etc....

     

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  29.  
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    Don Bartlett, Aug 4th, 2009 @ 7:27am

    @suzanne

    While I'm not going to post Joe's income publicly, I will assure you that this year (his first year doing this, remember) he will net an amount that would make most people in any industry quite happy.

    I can also assure you that Joe has been paid for every show he has ever played. The idea of buying on a tour is laughable, and against everything we believe in.

    @AC

    I appreciate your comments, though I still disagree that the latter two festivals are a marginal crowd for him. But again...no sense arguing what can only be proven by time. And as for the BMI stage...its not a mainstage, but its hardly a backwoods oasis for wayward passerby either. I suspect that at 3pm on Saturday there will be a few thousand people there, many of whom will be singing along. It goes with the path we've chosen to take with Joe that its a bottom-up situation. He will have large number of fans before the "top" end of the equation ever hears of him. Maybe in 5 years we'll regret this choice, but for now it seems like the right thing to do, and we'll continue to wager our chips in that direction.

    In my original post I avoided mentioning the importance of developing a strong team around the artist, but in retrospect it certainly warrants it. Josh Brinkman of Monterey International is as good of a person as he is a booking agent. He has worked tirelessly on our behalf and trusted us enough to travel this unusual path with Joe. Sharyn Goldyn handles Joe's publicity for No Door, and has been more successful far beyond what anyone had any right to expect. Stephen Patch and Ian Rodgers at Topspin Media have been good enough to take a gamble on a musician that certainly isn't going to fill their coffers in the immediate future. Promoters like Nick Miller and Mike LeMaistre of Jam and Jay Sweet of Newport Folk have taken gambles on Joe strictly because they believe in his music.

    These sampler CDs are just a foundation upon which to build something bigger. We have found them to be an invaluable promotional tool, but in the end careers are built by a group talented people putting in thousands of hours of hard work. Sometimes those people work at a record label, sometimes they don't. In the endgame maybe this whole economic shakeout will be a good thing for the music industry as whatever "morons" exist on both sides of the equation will be pushed aside.

     

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  30.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 4th, 2009 @ 8:48am

    Re: Brilliant

    240) Support worklist/checklist for building a strong team for each of the types.

    change of subject

    241 note/entry) Language is seperate from the actual computer code so skins can be applied with out having recompile for each lanuage.

    242) Skins are user customizable

     

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  31.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 4th, 2009 @ 9:03am

    Re: Re:

    "All my comment was is just to make it clear that playing at these events doesn't suggest he is a featured artist yet, that would be an accomplishment that would be beyond most people's wildest dreams."


    Trying to think like a music executive .... hmmmm ..... okay I have it ....


    Does he think he will ever become a featured act with out us, following this path of foolishness!! Free doesnt work!! Nothing but our business model will ever exist!! we will black list him!! We will crush him and any that follow him!! we will never give him any of the money ASCAP or RIAA collect on his behalf! Who does this fool think he is bucking the trend .... we can have him arrested for "Felony Interferance in a Business Model" if he doesnt stop.....

    ....ROFLMFAO ....

    can you picture the random record execs viens in his neck and forehead standing out, red in the face, spitting, as he spews out that rant ....

    Big Ole GRIN

     

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  32.  
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    Jrosen (profile), Aug 4th, 2009 @ 9:09am

    Re: Re: Re:

    LMAO!!! Actually, yes I can just see it. Nicely summed up there Hephaestus.

     

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  33.  
    icon
    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Aug 4th, 2009 @ 10:34am

    Re:

    "While I'm not going to post Joe's income publicly, I will assure you that this year (his first year doing this, remember) he will net an amount that would make most people in any industry quite happy.

    I can also assure you that Joe has been paid for every show he has ever played. The idea of buying on a tour is laughable, and against everything we believe in."

    I can understand your reluctance to share financial information, but that's really what we need to better understand the music business. I admire Amanda Palmer for being so open about her financial arrangements.

    Both Steve Albini and Courtney Love have been widely quoted for their theoretical breakdowns of the label business. We need the equivalent from unsigned and DIY artists. I've done it for an artist I worked for a few years ago. She was grossing about $150,000 based on 3000 local fans. We projected that if she went national, with a fan base of about 30,000 to 40,000, she could gross $1 million. However, she chose not to tour nationally.

    I've seen the show receipts, CD sales, guarantees, etc. for other DIY artists, so I am pushing to get a bigger pool of financial numbers so we all can know what it really means to have financial success as a DIY artist. I've run some theoretical numbers about how many t-shirts it would take to support a band, how many gigs it would take with an average coverage charge of $5, or $10, etc.

     

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  34.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Aug 4th, 2009 @ 11:29am

    Re: Re:

    In case it wasn't clear, the artist I was talking about was grossing $150,000 annually and her email list of fans was about 3000. We used a variety of financial projections to calculate how many paying fans she would need to gross $1 million annually and it was about 30,000 to 40,000. Of course, an artist needs to reach multiples of that to generate paying fans. Not everyone who hears the music is then going to buy a CD, merch, or pay a cover charge. But we had rock solid projections based on that as well.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2009 @ 3:23pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I think you would find that as the visibility expanded, you would go from the rabid fans (the top 10%) to a wider and less active pool. The first group is actually easy (they really do buy in) everyone else is a declining level of social butterfy, supporting you today, someone else tomorrow, and never, ever taking their wallets out for anything.

    SO the first 3000 may be the 10% that buy everything, after that you probably need way more than 30,000 - probably a number closer to 300,000 or even more before you see the magic million.

     

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  36.  
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    voxmanz (profile), Aug 4th, 2009 @ 5:54pm

    Re: Real Music Success

    Herodotus,
    Amidst all the noise over the marketing techniques, your comment is one of the most important, yet not commented upon. At the end of the day, at the end of our lives, in the perspective of history, what is important?

    I see so many musicians spending so much time on figuring out how to be good businessmen that they must be neglecting their art. In the end, a great work, whether music or book, etc. will be recognized. That's what we as artists should focus on. Of course we want people to hear what we've created, but that will be so much easier if the work is actually honest, true and has had the time, imagination, energy, creativity and passion invested in it that is actually required to create something of worth. So much music I hear is not even ready for public exposure, yet bands are far more interested in how to market themselves than in whether they actually need to spend another month on that song before it's up to the level of excellence that should be required before it is taken seriously.

    After that, yes, try all these different approaches. Trust me, I'm concerned over the marketing challenges as much as anyone. But if the music is THERE, it probably won't be quite as hard as you think it is to actually get people's attention (I didn't become profitable and have real success until my last album, which I made after giving up on the industry and decided to make the album I wanted to make and didn't care if anyone listened. Despite sending out only 5 unsolicited CDs, I've made profit five times over cost and am getting my music in major TV shows, movie trailers, etc, as well as just being nominated for best rock song of 2009 in the largest song award in the world - I'm giving these credentials only to prove the point of focusing on the art and contributing). It may take time, you may not get rich, but not many artists are interested in being Coca Cola. Most are interested in making enough money to fund their project and live comfortably so they can have a happy life contributing their talent to the world - which is the most important thing in the end.

    Okay, okay, I'm done. On with the marketing debate...

     

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  37.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Aug 4th, 2009 @ 8:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Based on my model, the artist would have to perform in front of 300,000 to generate 30,000 paying fans, so I don't disagree with you. If you have 30,000 fans paying $10 to $100 annually, they are the paying customers I am talking about. Worst case scenario, based on this artist's experience was that 10% of any audience would buy a CD.

    We had enough experience to see that this was consistent show after show. Often more than 10% of the audience would buy a CD, but rarely would less than 10% buy a CD. So we felt save in assuming that if she played in front of 300,000 people, at least 10% would become paying fans and that would generate $1 million.

    For example, she played a festival in Kansas, where no one knew her and she sold 450 CDs. Recently she played a show in her hometown and sold 45 CDs to an audience of 115 people.

     

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  38.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Aug 5th, 2009 @ 3:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    We had three years of sales data to draw upon, so we knew fairly predictably how fan spending would go. The concept (which a number of others have also used) is to build up a fan base in one area and then expand into the next. It was based on live shows, rather than online or radio promotion.

    My financial projections were made based on three realistic levels of spending. The largest group of fans would spend $10 a year on something (a CD, a show ticket, etc.). They were the sort who might turn up for one show a year, perhaps a free outdoor festival, and buy a CD.

    A somewhat smaller group would spend $20 a year. They'd definitely buy a CD or perhaps pay a cover charge to a show or two.

    The smallest group (the hardcore fans) would spend $100 a year. Those are the fans who come to multiple shows, buy every CD, etc.

    I agree that you have to get your music out in front of far more fans than you can actually make a sale to. With this particular artist, she is a compelling live artist who has put out multiple CDs, so whenever she plays in front of a new audience, she sell CDs. She played an average of 200 shows a year at the time we were putting together the plan. During the winter months it was smaller club shows. During the summer months, a lot of outdoor concerts.

    But she decided she didn't want to spend her life on the road, so she continues to play her local/regional market and make good money, though not $1 million a year.

    Where the challenge would have been to hit the $1 million was not in finding paying fans, but in the logistics of making a sale. If your model is based on selling directly to fans at or after a show, you can only make so many sales per hour given the limitations of sales staff manning the table and room in front of the table where fans can line up. If you want to ramp up volume beyond that, you've either got to travel with a fully manned sales booth, or you have to expand into online and retail sales, which will reduce your margin.

    At any rate, my original point is that the more we share actual income/expense figures from DIY artists, the more knowledgeable we will be.

    Whenever someone says, "Artist X" is a successful DIY artist, I want to know what does that mean and how is that accomplished. How much is going to the band members? How much is going to the manager? How much is going to pay touring expenses? How much is being sold in merchandise? Who is buying the merchandise? And so on.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Don Bartlett, Aug 6th, 2009 @ 6:49pm

    The term DIY isn't really accurately describing what we're trying to do with this particular artist, to be honest. We are building a fully staffed team outside of the traditional model, and bringing in the right partners as the individual parts make economic sense. For now this entails doing it without a label, but both Joe and I firmly believe that there are good labels that are worth every penny they make. It's hard to say where the industry is headed with any certainty...and every deal deserves to be considered on its own merits. But the moral of the story from my perspective is to not wait around for the right deal to come to you, but rather continue to build a quality team and infrastructure which strengthens both your bottom line and your bargaining position. Making a truly DIY career in music is a rare and admirable thing. In the end though, I think the future lies in taking the positive aspects of a record label and molding them into a model that has more fiscal sanity.

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 9th, 2009 @ 7:21am

    Re: Re: Who?

    hey jj this is dm good comment

     

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