How Georgia Wonder Turned Lack Of Cash To Record Into An Opportunity

from the marketing-smart dept

Earlier this year, we wrote about the UK music act Georgia Wonder, who was thrilled to be listed as one of the "most pirated" musical acts out there -- recognizing the power of good promotion. Since then, we've watched with interest how the group has continued to really interact with fans and use new tools and new marketing ideas to get heard and build a following. Rose M. Welch alerts us to the band's latest smart move. As they wanted to record a new album, they realized (as plenty of others have) that it's expensive to record an album -- buying studio time, equipment and instruments. So they did something different. They teamed up with a local music equipment shop, called Nevada Music and worked out a deal:
Both during store hours and after the store closes each night, they'll be recording their next album dubbed "Made In Nevada" using all the gear the store has on sale.
This benefits everyone. The band gets access to all the equipment and instruments they need, plus they get added attention for doing something cool and new. The store also gets a nice benefit in additional attention and marketing for itself and its products. What's cool about this is that it's yet another different way of going about things. One of the most frustrating responses we hear whenever we show examples of cool things that musicians are doing -- is people saying "but everyone can't do this." But that's the whole point. Musicians can keep coming up with cool different things to do. Frankly, the idea that they can't come up with cool ideas is insulting. These are some of the most creative people around, and given the ability to express that creativity, it's amazing what they come up with.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 1:01pm

    Cue the "you said smart!" whiner.

     

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  2.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 1:02pm

    Great idea

    In my old home town there was a small alternative record store that started hosting monthly concerts after hours, while keeping the cash open late so people could shop casually while they were there. The probably sold more during those shows than they did during all their regular hours combined, not to mention all the new, devoted customers they gained.

    Of course, being an alternative record store in a small town at this time in history, they didn't ultimately make enough to stay in business - but they did outlast other all the other music stores in town by continuing CwF+RtB (awesome community with monthly free concerts that also served as networking events for musicians, plus lots of collector vinyl) long after the desire for CDs had disappeared.

     

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  3.  
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    Steven (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 1:22pm

    You just don't get it.

    Just how do you expect people to run successful business without a well tested, detailed, step by step plan? It's almost as if you think entrepreneurs should take risks, work hard, and find ways to differentiate themselves from their competition. That just isn't the way things are done. We must ensure that the time tested business plans of our corporate overlords are not threatened.

    I swear the next thing you'll start saying is that individuals can have innovative ideas, or that small timers can disrupt the big boys. It's just crazy.

     

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  4.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 1:34pm

    Re:

    Oh Mike, you're doing the insulting/not insulting thing! You rogue.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 2:36pm

    The only problem of the story is that in the end, the recording still cost a fair bit of money. Every thing that was new, then used to make the record becomes "open stock" or "demo" models, and the music store takes a write down on it.

    It's really just a sponsored record, not much else.

     

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  6.  
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    A-dub, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 2:47pm

    Hence the title "Made in Nevada".

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 2:52pm

    Re:

    >>It's really just a sponsored record, not much else.

    What's wrong with that? The band gets to walk away without owing its soul to a big record label. Oh, wait. That is exactly what the RIAA thinks is wrong with that.

     

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  8.  
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    painter, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 2:53pm

    Re: costs

    I spend quite a bit of money printing glossy catalogs of my artworks.
    These catalogs are then given away, they are entered in the books under :the costs of promotion and marketing.
    Things that are by nature one-offs for examples; paintings , performances & so on , are where the profits are. Things that can easily copied are viral advertising at its best somebody else pays for both the copying and distibution.

     

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  9.  
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    Thomas (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 2:58pm

    I think this is brilliant and can see lots of places trying this kind of thing in the future. And a few hours of use by pro musicians on what is probably already floor stock might be offset by the added "Used for recording an album" cachet. I honestly don't know why more instrument dealers don't do this. Create some crossover business connections beyond just moving product out the door.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 3:08pm

    Re:

    Every thing that was new, then used to make the record becomes "open stock" or "demo" models, and the music store takes a write down on it.

    Not necessarily, if the album gets noticed, do you really think the store won't turn around and sell them at a profit? "Own the actual instruments used to make "Made in Nevada"".

     

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  11.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 3:21pm

    Re:

    What if they were already using as much "open stock" and as many "demo models" as they could do record? Many music stores have more than enough stuff to record an album on the floor, already set up and working - they probably didn't need to crack many packages.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 3:51pm

    Re:

    Are you implying that there's something wrong with sponsored records?

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 4:08pm

    Re: Re:

    Nope, there is nothing wrong with sponsored records. I just object to the idea of it being "something new" when bands have been doing the same thing for decades, trading use of rental equipment or store demo units "over the weekend" to use to record. It's not new, it's not special, it's just a cute story.

     

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  14.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 4:16pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    It's not new, it's not special, it's just a cute story.

    If it wasn't new or special, then it wouldn't work.

    It wouldn't be a cute story if it were nothing special. But it *is* working. That suggests that despite your wild attempts to try to come up with an angle to attack every post I make, the people this was directed at clearly disagree with you.

    And, really, that's all that matters.

     

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  15.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 7:54pm

    Are they making money?

    Earlier this year, we wrote about the UK music act Georgia Wonder, who was thrilled to be listed as one of the "most pirated" musical acts out there -- recognizing the power of good promotion.

    Did having their music pirated generate any income for them?

     

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  16.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 7:55pm

    Re: Are they making money?

    Never mind. I see that the title says, "lack of cash."

     

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  17.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 1:45am

    Re: Are they making money?

    Did having their music pirated generate any income for them?

    Heh. Why don't you ask the band? They claim that it has been a tremendous help in getting the band known worldwide, and they have, in fact, been able to capitalize on that.

    I don't understand your continued desire to insult and bash those who are creative with their business models, Suzanne. It's really insulting.

     

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  18.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 1:55am

    Re: Re: Are they making money?

    Never mind. I see that the title says, "lack of cash."

    Heh. Again, what an insulting and misleading reading of what's going on. As you well know, musicians can earn plenty of revenue, but that doesn't necessarily mean they have enough cash to pay for a high quality recording. That takes a bit more.

    Sometimes I get the feeling you have no interest in actually helping musicians, but you just want to tell everyone there's no possible business model. Are you just upset that there's too much competition out there for the bands you're supposedly advising?

     

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  19.  
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    catullsrl, Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 3:24am

    Re: Re: Are they making money?

    Suzanne is right.If their work being pirated was such an advantage and gave rise to so many lucrative opportunities to sell scarce goods, why haven't they got enough money to record their next album ? There is a simple way to describe the business model "Made in Nevada" are employing : begging for help.

    And by the way, I thought making a record didn't cost any money anymore, and could be done in a bedroom using Garageband.

     

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  20.  
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    Michael, Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 4:02am

    Re: Re: Re: Are they making money?

    Are you aware of the cost of recording a real album? I am not, however I think it is significantly more expensive than you expect.

    Yes, it is far cheaper these days to record. It is also far easier and cheaper to distribute. That does not mean that these things are free, easy to pay for, or something that the band WANTS to pay for if it does not have to.

    As far as I can tell by their website, the band is doing pretty well. They are making and distributing music. They are making a living - perhaps not millionaires, but not starving. They are not giving all of their cash to a record label.

    As far as this particular project - it may be a dismal failure and not make any money for them or the record store. It's not done, so nobody knows. It is, however, creative, interesting, and seems like a pretty good idea for them to cut expenses. How could that be bad? If record labels spent time thinking up creative ways to cut expenses, they might be doing better these day.s

     

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  21.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 9:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Are they making money?

    Suzanne is right.If their work being pirated was such an advantage and gave rise to so many lucrative opportunities to sell scarce goods, why haven't they got enough money to record their next album ?

    How many bands actually pay for their own recording?

    That's right, almost none. Nearly all of them -- even the biggest names, go into serious debt to record an album, and as a part of that, have to give up their copyrights on the songs.

    Georgia Wonder doesn't have to do that.

    Seems like a much better deal.

    There is a simple way to describe the business model "Made in Nevada" are employing : begging for help.

    Heh. Or, controlling their own destiny. I believe my definition is a lot more accurate, but your mileage may vary.

     

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  22.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 10:52am

    Re: Re: Are they making money?

    I'm asking a legitimate question. I was wondering what they were making in terms of income.

    Then I saw the title of this thread and the "lack of cash." That told me what I needed to know.

     

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  23.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 12:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Are they making money?

    I'm asking a legitimate question. I was wondering what they were making in terms of income.

    They have said that they now make a full time living from their music.

    Then I saw the title of this thread and the "lack of cash." That told me what I needed to know.

    Only due to a deliberate misreading of the post. The lack of cash was not from revenue, but to record an album. I pointed this out above.

    I do not understand why you now repeat such a deliberate misreading.

     

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  24.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 12:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Are they making money?

    I do not understand why you now repeat such a deliberate misreading.

    Because you were suggesting that somehow I was insulting the band by asking the question. I talk to people all the time about how much money they are making from their various music activities.

    And when I first asked the question, I didn't look at the title of the post. Then I saw "lack of cash" and realized you had already told me what I needed to know. I was just clarifying how I happened to post my first two comments.

     

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  25.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 1:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Are they making money?

    Because you were suggesting that somehow I was insulting the band by asking the question.

    No, you were insulting the band not by asking the question, but by implying that they did not make any such money through their creative activities.

    And when I first asked the question, I didn't look at the title of the post. Then I saw "lack of cash" and realized you had already told me what I needed to know.

    Yikes. That's the third time that you have deliberately misread the statement. It was not "lack of cash." It says "lack of cash to record." I can't see how you fail to see the difference other than that you are being deliberately misleading.

    If I wrote about "my lack of cash to buy that Gulfstream jet" would you then assume that I hadn't made any money at all from my job? Then why do you assume the same thing with this band when you say that the "lack of cash to record" in the title implies that they have not made money from embracing piracy?

     

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  26.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 1:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Are they making money?

    If I wrote about "my lack of cash to buy that Gulfstream jet" would you then assume that I hadn't made any money at all from my job? Then why do you assume the same thing with this band when you say that the "lack of cash to record" in the title implies that they have not made money from embracing piracy?

    You don't need a Gulfstream to do your job. Generally recording is part of a musician's job. That's a major point. If a successful band lacks the cash to record, then it means they may not be making enough money to cover all necessary expenses.

    Because musicians often DON'T have a lot of cash, they do look for ways to cut corners. Maybe they buy equipment and record in their garages. Maybe they cut deals like Georgia Wonder. Maybe they sign with a label.

    You've touched upon a major part of making a music career work. How do you find the money to do what you need to do?

     

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  27.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 1:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Are they making money?

    You don't need a Gulfstream to do your job. Generally recording is part of a musician's job. That's a major point. If a successful band lacks the cash to record, then it means they may not be making enough money to cover all necessary expenses.

    But almost every band has *always* lacked the money to record. That's why labels give advances. Why is it meaningful that Georgia Wonder didn't have enough cash to record a new album when that's the status quo?

    Because musicians often DON'T have a lot of cash, they do look for ways to cut corners. Maybe they buy equipment and record in their garages. Maybe they cut deals like Georgia Wonder. Maybe they sign with a label.

    How is that "cutting corners"? Seriously. Talk to the people in Georgia Wonder. They don't see it as cutting corners. They see it as a smart way to connect with their fans and record a great album.

    You've touched upon a major part of making a music career work. How do you find the money to do what you need to do?

    Indeed. But you calling it cutting corners and implying that they didn't make enough money from their marketing strategy is flat out wrong.

     

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  28.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 1:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Are they making money?

    But you calling it cutting corners and implying that they didn't make enough money from their marketing strategy is flat out wrong.

    Great to hear that. Do you have the numbers?

     

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  29.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 2:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Are they making money?

    I went looking for more info, but all I was able to turn up is that they don't have enough money for either recording equipment or good instruments, and they don't have enough money for an HD video camera to film what they are trying to do, so they are asking for donations to that.

    Sounds like Mike knows more about this than I do, so I welcome any information about what kind of money they are making. It will be helpful for all aspiring bands to know this.

     

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  30.  
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    painter, Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 4:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Are they making money?

    In truth most bands signed to a company never get more than a smallish stipend, If they do get a bit of a hit; 'costs' have a way of expanding to match the size of the record sales.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2009 @ 5:21pm

    "These are some of the most creative people around, and given the ability to express that creativity, it's amazing what they come up with."

    Yeah, but you will soon find that ridiculous laws will make it implausible for independent artists to succeed like this.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2009 @ 5:25pm

    Re:

    "I think this is brilliant and can see lots of places trying this kind of thing in the future."

    and I can see lobbyists at Hollywood killing this business model with their greed.

     

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  33.  
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    Candy, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 10:44am

    Cross promotion of Nevada Music and Georgia

    Great idea that suits both parties I guess. Free access to guitars, accessories, other instruments etc. I bet it created a bit of a stir in the local news too.

     

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