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 @ 3:16pm

    Re: Re: Hmm, no shills today

    it came down to a lot of thideas i have been reading here over the last year or so, mixed with examining my own buying habits/patterns. I simply asked myself, "what would i buy, why and for how much?"

    the main strategic thing about the disc is that it is a "key" more so than a product. i created an interactive section on the disc so that when used with a cd-rom drive, there is an html section with liner notes, a bit of editorial, and, most importantly, links to all of my online personnae, including my online discography, which is also freely downloable ( www.onyxashanti.bandcamp.com ) i decided to use this online repository as an RTB and it works. even though, someone can simply download the music online without buying the disc, i have found that people want both.

    as far as costs, my primarly costs are my time investment in disc creation. i wanted something that was visceral and tangible which is why i chose to cut the paper by hand rather than use precut pages ( i also iron each sheet so that i goes thru the printer). i wanted to ceate something that made people ant to listen to it and sit down and enjoy the music, the writing in the sleeve, down to the feel of the paper itself. these things arent expensive in material costs, but they do take time to create.

    i plan to expand on this concept of selling a "key" to my artistic repository, rather than trying to create singular "products" as i am finding that it builds a sense of artistic trust with people that are into what i do. I plan to try this concept with my concert shows soon and see how well it works there too...i will post the results.

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