Street Performer Explains His Experience Connecting With Fans, Giving Them A Reason To Buy

from the experiments-in-progress dept

Onyx Ashanti, a street musician ("busker") who has apparently been reading Techdirt for some time, has been trying to put some of what we discuss here into practice, looking for better ways to connect with fans, while also providing them something worthwhile to buy (noting that "tips" aren't a very good business). He recently alerted us to a blog post he wrote detailing the results of some of the experiments, which appear to be ongoing. He's tried a few different things, even trying to set up a WiFi connection where he's performing to let people download music (didn't work, as it was too confusing) or giving them flyers with a code to download (again, not very effective). He did realize that performing directly on the street enabled him to connect and build up a mailing list, but what could he give as the "reason to buy." He settled on a CD, but with cool (homemade) origami packaging. But he still wasn't sure on the pricing. He tried $10 -- which was decent. He then dropped the price to $5, which actually caused him to sell fewer CDs. But then he tried the model Dave Allen has suggested for merch: pay what you want, and found it worked wonders. He ended up making a lot more more money, though it helped that he explained the whole thing clearly on a sign. Allen, too, has mentioned that it all depends in how you explain the offering.

I've said before that I'm not necessarily a fan of "pay what you want" pricing schemes, but I'm beginning to think there may be areas where they do make sense. The success stories of bands using it for merch over and over again are making me wonder what factors make "pay what you want" work. Any thoughts?

Either way, I'll be curious to find out more from Onyx as he continues to experiment.

Filed Under: cwf, onyx ashanti, rtb


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Aug 2009 @ 1:19pm

    I think the difference here is what the audience focuses on as the point to the performance.

    A set price makes the whole performance seem like a marketing ploy (which it technically is, but we're talking about customer mentality). It makes the musician appear like "I'm just doing this so you buy my CDs".

    Meanwhile, a pay-what-you-want price seems much more offhanded, like an afterthought. The focus is on the performance rather than the product, and in turn the audience gives money because they feel it's that much more voluntary.

    It comes down to understanding your audience. People are much more willing to do something if they feel less forced.

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