How Musician Ellis Paul Got 300 Fans To Give Him $100,000 For His Latest Album

from the how-it's-done dept

Yet another great blog post by Ariel Hyatt, exploring how musicians are embracing the concept of focusing on the true fans to build a modern business model -- this time looking at how musician Ellis Paul was able to raise $100,000 from just 300 fans. The actual concept appears quite similar to what we've seen elsewhere before, in that he put together a set of "tiers" for support. The Ellis Paul story actually sounds quite similar to the Jill Sobule story -- both musicians who have been around for many years, bouncing around in the old system before realizing that a big label doesn't make much sense, when you have a strong fan base and really aren't selling the amount of albums the big record label really needs to consider you a success. Like Sobule, Paul has focused on really building up a loyal audience, and figuring out ways to communicate with them. What's interesting here, is that it took just 300 fans buying into tiers to get Paul to that $100,000 mark. Not bad.

There are some parts that suggest Paul could have an even stronger model, however. It doesn't appear that he really embraces "free." For example, there's lots of talk focusing on selling albums, even though his manager admits that he makes about 60% of his revenue from live shows, and a key focus for Paul is to build up his audience. In fact, for people who did participate in his tiered offering, they would send them CDs and ask them to pass the CDs along to other potential "true fans." But why not just embrace the more efficient system of offering the music up for free to expand the audience much further, continue to build up that live following, and offer additional alternatives for the business model that might get even more than 300 people to participate?


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  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 2:55pm

    300 fans, or 300 patrons? One upper-class patron, or 300 middle-class patrons.

    It's pretty obvious that patronage can't work in the 21st century and this is why we need multi-national corporations investing in the arts because, otherwise, the arts would up and disappear . . . .

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 2:59pm

    Re:

    To clarify, the world is large enough for both fan-based investment in the arts and corporate-based investment.

    Let's just not delude ourselves into thinking that only the corporate-based path is the correct one.

    The world is large enough for both.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 3:02pm

    To answer the last question, people feel special and more connected when they feel like they have been singaled out. Allowing everyone to download music is wonderful, to PUSH that same free music to individuals, creates a sense of connection. To allow people to participate in the process of giving those things away makes THEM feel more important and connect. THEY have helped to create the huge following.

     

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  4.  
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    Tom The Toe, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 3:05pm

    Ellis Paul is a wonderful artist

    I had the chance to hear him play and meet him at the Blue Door in OKC. A very friendly guy who loves what he does. For those of you that haven't heard of him, his song World Ain't Slowin' Down was in the Jim Carey movie Me Myself And Irene.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 3:06pm

    maybe if he can get enough people to participate, maybe they each give him, what $15 for the cd, he can sell, 10,000 copies? no wait that is the old record business and you dont like that business.

     

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  6.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 3:25pm

    Re:

    maybe if he can get enough people to participate, maybe they each give him, what $15 for the cd, he can sell, 10,000 copies

    Sure, if he can, but that's selling stuff that fewer people want. The whole point of what we talk about here is trying to sell what people want, not what they used to want.

     

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  7.  
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    kyle clements (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 3:30pm

    Re:

    It's not a matter of liking or not liking one business or another. It's about what works, and what doesn't work.

    sure, he could sell 10,000 copies of an album
    (1st: good luck with that. 2nd: that likely won't even cover his advance)
    Or, he could use this model, and make a ton of cash with only 300 people.
    I would imagine that it's a lot easier to find 300 fans than 10,000

    I take some issue with the second paragraph, however. It certainly is possible that sales could be increased by embracing free. However, this example could also be used to argue that leveraging 'free' and using an unlimited resource to advertise a scare good isn't always necessary to connect with fans and give a reason to buy.
    'Free' is one tool for building an audience, one very good tool. But it's not the only tool, or the best tool in all cases. This guy's not using it, and he's doing quite well.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 3:31pm

    Re:

    The era of the shiny plastic disc is over. Deal with it.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 3:40pm

    Re: Re:

    so why doesn't he make one song at a time, that wouldnt cost much. he could connect with fans every month with a new tune and ask for a little more money. if the record world is dead why make records instead of songs? that is an old business way to do things.

     

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  10.  
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    PRMan, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 3:46pm

    $100,000 from 300 fans?

    He's lying...

     

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  11.  
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    PRMan, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 3:47pm

    Re: $100,000 from 300 fans?

    (For those of you with no sense of humor, this is, of course, a reference to today's earlier article...)

     

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  12.  
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    Epsyle, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 5:23pm

    Re: $100,000 from 300 fans?

    He's not lying, he's just using the last shreds of the old business model and spinning some pr to make us think he's using a new business model! :D

     

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  13.  
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    Unliscensed Sow, Mar 17th, 2010 @ 2:56am

    Re: Re:

    "The era of the shiny plastic disc is over. Deal with it."



    Only if you're happy with shitty sound quality.

     

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  14.  
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    BBT, Mar 17th, 2010 @ 6:41am

    You would think that a website so focused on "connecting" with fans would recognize that people feel more connected to physical objects than digital bits, and connect more with music introduced to them by trustworthy friends than randomly discovered.

    Giving CDs to fans to then give to their friends would have a far greater chance of making those friends actually become fans than simply putting something on bittorrent.

    Not to say he couldn't do both, but the current model he's using sounds pretty good. I know I'm far more likely to listen to a CD someone hands to me and recommends than I am to listen to a band that someone mentions to me "oh hey, check out ______ sometime" and then I have to remember to download it.

     

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  15.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Mar 17th, 2010 @ 10:05am

    You mean....Artists...may actually....GASP!!! have to tour.

    What is this world coming to?

     

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  16.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Mar 17th, 2010 @ 10:11am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Shitty sound? You only listen to LP?

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2010 @ 11:22am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Because compact discs are the only way to experience high fidelity. There is no other way. Nope. It has to come on a shiny plastic disc. No other way. Not possible.

    FLAC, what?

     

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  18.  
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    Jupiter (profile), Mar 25th, 2010 @ 2:19pm

    embrace the fans

    Giving the music away for free doesn't actually make you want to listen to it. In fact it sounds like a desperate move to be heard.

    Encourage the people who have already bought your music - the fans - to give that music to their friends and help turn them into fans. Sounds good to me.

    If a friend gives me a copy of a CD and tells me how much they love it, I'm going listen to embrace that musician a lot easier. I've already got so much music that throwing another one onto the ipod doesn't really mean anything.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    BARR.richard wood, Sep 7th, 2010 @ 2:04pm

    please treat urgent/////Anonymous Coward.

    RICHARD CHAMBERS CONSULTANT SERVICES
    14, RUE DU BOULEVARD
    LOME TOGO WEST AFRICA


    ATTN Anonymous Coward.

    i am Barrister richard wood a solicitor at law,personal attorney to Mr.Choe Coward,who used to work with Shell Development Company in Lome Togo. Here in after shall be referred to as my client. On the 21st of April 2007, my client, his wife and their only daughter were involved in a car accident along Nouvissi express Road. All occupants of the vehicle unfortunately lost there lives. Since then I have made several enquiries to the embassy here to locate any of my clients extended relatives, this has also proved unsuccessful.

    After these several unsuccessful attempts to locate this family ,I decided to contact you since my client died without testified any (WILL) which is the next of kin of this fund to come forward and apply for this claim. You will permite me as the attorney who take proper list documentry care of this estate, to fill your name in my file as next of kin and beneficiary of this fund deposited , hence my late client was not signed any name in my file jacket as the inheritor of this 'WILL' .

    In order to assist in repartrating the fund valued at US$20.7 million left behind by my client before it gets confisicated or declared unserviceable by the Finance Company where this huge amount was deposited. The said Finance Company has issued me a notice to provide the next of kin or have his account confisicated within the next twenty one official working days.

    Since I have been unsuccesfull in locating the relatives for over 2years now, I seek the consent to present you as the next of kin to the deceased since i will fill in your name in my file jacket as the next of kin of this estate, so that the proceeds of this account can be paid to you.Therefore, on receipt of your positive response, we shall then discuss the sharing ratio and modalities for transfer.I have all necessary information and legal documents needed to back you up for claim. All I require from you is your honest cooperation to enable us see this transaction through.

    I guarantee that this deal will be executed under legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of the law. Please get in touch with me through the above email for more details. For more information , you are advised to contact me through my via alternative box: wood.richard9@gmail.com

    Best Regards.
    Barr. richard wood.

     

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