Another Band With Another Unique Business Model

from the turning-your-fans-into-promoters dept

Often, when we describe a certain business model put in place by one band that embraces the basic economics of the music industry, someone shows up in the comments to claim "while this might work for musician X, that's an exception... it'll never work for big/small/mainstream/niche/whatever artists." This sort of comment misses the larger point. We are not suggesting a single "business model" for the entire industry. In fact, we're just explaining the economic forces at play, and showing a variety of different business models that embrace those economics. It's those different business models that makes the market so interesting and dynamic and allows bands to stand out from the crowd.

For the latest example, reader James Saunders points us to the band Umphrey's McGee, who implemented a business model for their latest album that helped turn their fans into promoters. Saunders explains the band's "unique plan":
As more people pre-ordered, the band would add more "extras" to the release. There were eight tiers of potential content, each unlocked once a predetermined number of albums were purchased. The result was a massive effort by fans to promote the album for the band; if they got more people to buy it, their own purchase would have more value. I bought my copy over 2 months ago, and I convinced two friends to get it as well. Eventually, all eight tiers were unlocked, so a good number of albums must have been sold. The whole experience offered more to fans than just "music tracks" which could be pirated. Instead they were given a chance to help a band they love reach a wider audience, while at the same time "earning" more for what they were already willing to pay."
This is a neat variation on a similar model we've seen from musicians like Marillion and Jill Sobule to get fans to agree to pay up early in exchange for some benefit. The addition of having different beneficial levels "open up" just adds to the appeal, and it helps turn fans into promoters as well. Again, this is not "the" business model for all bands -- but yet another example of a band recognizing one way to implement a business model that really does focus on connecting with fans and giving them a real reason to buy.

Filed Under: bands, business models, economics, tiers, umphrey's mcgee


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  1. identicon
    Xiera, 21 Jan 2009 @ 6:30am

    Re: Mike misses it again

    *sigh* Some people will never get it.

    Mike isn't arguing that this a business model for the industry. He argues, quite well here, that these are business models for the individual musicians.

    A business model does NOT need to work for every brand in a market to be considered a good business model. Indeed, many different business models can work in the same market. This is what Mike is advocating. Forget the short-sighted and false belief that one business model should work for an entire industry and start fabricating business models that work for you.

    Does it take more work? Sure does. Is it more effective and rewarding? Sure is, and artists have been proving it time and again.

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