Yet Another Musician Offers Tiers... Including A Backyard Concert

from the awesome dept

Way back in 2003, I put forth a potential business model for the music industry that encouraged free file sharing. If I believed in the old saw that "ownership" is everything -- perhaps I could have tried to patent it as a business method patent (I'm joking, people). Of course, I'm much more excited about seeing it put to use -- and we've definitely seen various musicians over the past few years adopt variations on this business model put into place. But I find it especially amusing that one throwaway idea I mentioned in that post seems to actually be getting some use: the backyard concert. Specifically, the business model I put forth was that the musicians could give away the music for free, but could offer various (scarce) goods to sell: with a big one being access to the artist. And, I thought, what better form of access than a personal concert? You could do backstage passes, but why not also have some sort of option for the musicians to actually play at your house. If you're a major fan, how awesome would that be?

Last year, Jill Sobule was the first well-known artist we saw who actually offered that. And, now, Boing Boing is reporting that John Wesley Harding is doing something similar. Like Sobule, Trent Reznor, Kristin Hersh, the Beastie Boys and many others, Harding is offering a variety of options for ways to support him -- starting with a download plus CD with bonus live disc for $16 (a bit high, honestly). But at the top of the list is a $5,000 option for... a backyard concert. Sure, perhaps no one will actually take him up on it, but I have to admit I'm thrilled that multiple musicians have now "stolen" this idea and at least are testing it out (though, my original idea was to make it more of a raffle: if you buy into something else, you get a random chance to win a backyard concert).

That said, I'm not all that impressed with the overall offering. It doesn't include a free component, which makes all of the paid options a lot less valuable. If you get more people into the music, they're more willing to buy all those other scarcities you're offering. And, the basic prices seem a bit high. When Reznor did his experiment, the "basic" two disc CD was $10 for 36 songs and there was a $5 option and a free option as well. Starting at $16 (not including S&H) seems a bit high. Still.... great to see that backyard concert option gaining traction.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2009 @ 12:51pm

    Re: News flash!!! Musicians return to their marketing roots...

    Sorry Mike. I guess I've missed your point all these years by not reading between the lines. I've always more or less agreed with your cause. Lose the record companies, stop suing customers for file sharing, and embrace a digital fan base by offering "finite" goods with your "infinite" digital product.

    I guess I didn't make my point very clearly and I didn't intend my response to be an attack on you, or the sites you contribute to, since it's clear that you state in your last paragraph that you aren't that impressed with this particular offering. And I've always appreciated your willingness to defend and reconsider your opinions through debate in the comment sections of your articles.

    However, neither example you offer involves free music. In fact, it's quite the opposite. The music is expensive... In Jill's case $25 for a CD is more that what I'd pay at almost any store. $10,000 to sing on the album? And if my angelic voice contributes to Jill's success how am I rewarded? With squat.

    I guess I'm just far less accepting of "examples" which turn customers into non-profit sharing investors. Digital or not, independent musicians should see value in increasing their customer base with infinite goods. Charging exhorbant amounts of money for "bonus" content or services only turns the customer into an investor, especially in cases where the customer is "pre-ordering" content that hasn't been recorded yet.

    Someone could claim that the customer who pays $5,000 for a backyard concert is a willing participant in the transaction, but it's all just polish on a turd. The customer should never be a financial replacement for the record company. Willing or not, the customer is funding the artists recording session with no substantial return on his investment.

    Anyhow... I appreciate the rebuttle. Keep on fighting the fight.

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