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
    Lonnie E. Holder, 21 Jan 2009 @ 12:48pm

    Re: Re: Mike misses it again

    Youra Fish:

    I think you are correct regarding obscurity being a big barrier. Unfortunately, it appears that the artists with the most publicity are those appealing to the common denominator, which means those artists that sell the most music (CD's, downloads, etc.). The music business once encouraged obscure groups because they often built a fan base (R.E.M. is one example) or they turned into a supergroup over time (which happened often enough in the 70's that I am sure everyone can name several).

    It would be easy to be morose about this state of affairs. Instead, I choose to listen to classic rock and to search the internet, as you suggested, to find groups that are good that get little, if any exposure, and buy their music. Sometimes being part of the solution is to BE part of the solution.

    Some in the music industry "get it." Many others lament the current state of affairs, hardly realizing they are part of the problem (obviously they are not reading Mike's blog). However, markets may be slow, but eventually they will correct this problem.

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