Yet Another Musician Discovers That Free, Implemented Well, Can Increase Fans & Make You More Money
from the haven't-see-seen-this-before dept
I almost didn’t post this story, because we’ve seen nearly the same thing so many times — but seeing the surprise that some have expressed about musician Andy Othling’s post about giving away his music for free for a day (with a pay what you want campaign via his Bandcamp page), it seemed worth mentioning. As in other cases, he found that he ended up with many new listeners and much more attention… but what surprised him was that he also made more money. He expected to make less, assuming that people would just take the content for free. And, of course, some did. But when you expand your audience tremendously, and give them the option and the tools to support you, amazing things happen:
I was anticipating a drop in revenue, because that’s usually what you expect when you start giving things away for free. But what happened was that in a single day I made more than 2x what I normally do on music sales in an ENTIRE MONTH. Yes, you read that right. More in a day than in two months of regular sales.
I don’t quite know how to explain this, but I think a lot of it is based on reciprocal generosity. People seemed to really appreciate that I did this and responded by paying more than they normally would. I was blown away by people who decided to give more for an album than it would have cost them the day before.
Of course, we’ve seen this exact thing over and over again, so it shouldn’t be at all surprising by this point. Andy points out that he greatly increased his fanbase too:
There you can see that in one day, I added almost 450 email addresses to my mailing list. That’s 450 more direct connections that I can make in the future, and 450 more people who can spread the news when I do something like this again. This is way more exciting to me than money.
Of course, he chose to only do this for 24 hours… and then took away the free option. We’ve seen some others do this as well, to mixed results. More than a few musicians I’ve talked to who have run similar experiments later switch to leaving the free option up permanently, but it’s not uncommon for people to try it as a limited-time experiment at first. There may be some value in the “it’s only free today!” aspect to get people to act, but I do wonder if it limits long term potential. For example, with this post, some people here might want to check out his music — but I’d bet a lot more people would be interested if the music were still free.
It’s also important to note that while people often get blinded by “free” and forget about everything else, Andy didn’t just do “free” and leave it at that. He (1) strategically promoted that it was free and urged others to pass that info around and (2) provided a clear way for people to support him monetarily as well, if they so chose. Free is a piece of the puzzle, but it’s not everything.