Best Practices In Online Promotion Of New Music Offerings
from the worth-a-read dept
Bas Grasmayer alerts us to a paper he's written as part of the research for his thesis on the future of music distribution. This isn't the full thesis, but is a quick analysis of 5 different musical acts (pdf) and the new music launches they did. All five are ones that we've talked about here: Radiohead's name your own price deal for In Rainbows, Trent Reznor's tiered reasons to buy for Ghosts I-IV, Groove Armada's spam your friends EP sponsored by Baccardi, Danger Mouse's blank CD-R and book given out after EMI wouldn't release his latest project and Mos Def's t-shirt album. The paper gives a pretty good summary of all of them, and concludes with some key points:
What does NOT work (well)I think this is a fantastic list -- and the results of other experiments we've seen seem to support many of the points on this list as well. The rest of the paper is also worth reading, and I look forward to the final thesis. Of course, two small quibbles: the paper cites me a couple times, including claiming that I coined the term "competing with free." I can't take credit for that, though I have no idea who coined it. I was under the impression the phrase was in widespread and common usage prior to me ever mentioning it. Second, it claims that to get In Rainbows that the "minimum donation" was a penny. Perhaps that's technically true, but the real minimum donation was nothing at all -- and you could still download the album. Bas seems to recognize this, because later in the paper it mentions that many people got the album for free. Overall though, for folks who are paying attention to this stuff, this is a nice summary.
- Not going all the way. Fans love free music and so do people that are not familiar with an artist's work, but if you're going to give something away then really give it away. If you don't, you won't get the attention you were hoping for and might even disappoint some fans instead of connecting with them.
Creating unnecessary mediums instead of utilizing existing ones. While the Bacardi B-Live Share application looked cool (now offline), it was completely unnecessary. Instead of creating a digital dashboard with meaningless graphics, it could have been executed in a much simpler fashion by utilizing existing social networks or filesharing websites. IF you're going to set up such a thing, then at least make it interactive, social (in terms of enabling users to interact with each other) and add value (with videos or a game for instance). You could even use it to sell other products of the band or artist. Expecting people to pay for what they can get for free. People might pay, but most will pick whatever way is most convenient. Usually, this is by remaining seated at your computer and by avoiding complicated online payment procedures. Sure, people should use legal ways to buy music, but the reality is that people go for convenience.What does work (well)
- Giving fans a reason to buy. Instead of expecting people to pay for something which they can, perhaps more easily, get for free, create added value. This is what Nine Inch Nails, Mos Def and Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse all did very well. Instead of expecting people to pay for the music, they all created something besides the music which people would be more willing to pay for.
- Freemium. By offering something for free, one connects with fans and they will spread the word about you (as long as what you're offering has value). Once attention has been garnered, and perhaps sympathy has been won, you can offer a premium product. This is how Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails have been successful with aforementioned albums. First you give something for free, then you market your premium; freemium.
- Understanding that the package IS the product. This goes for all of the cases, except for Groove Armada. In the case of Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse as well as Mos Def, the package was actually the reason to buy the product. In the case of Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails, they marketed the package as premiums, perhaps understanding that it's hard to make money if you have to compete with free, meaning music downloads.
- Buzz. By generating buzz, you can turn people just turned on to your product into fans. These fans can then later be marketed to when trying to sell premium packages (or subscriptions for example). Even if they don't buy, having them talking about your brand or product increases the buzz. This works best if they can give others free samples (free music) to see for themselves how great the brand or product is.
- Co-branding. By co-branding, the two brands can both benefit of each others' resources and skills. In the case of Groove Armada and Bacardi, the latter benefits mostly from Groove Armada's image and the ability to promote themselves on all Groove Armada-related products, this includes live performances. Groove Armada on the other hand, benefits from the resources Bacardi has, for instance to set up the website and network for the distribution of the music, as well as their marketing capacities. Both are connected to different audiences and by working together, they can promote each other to their respective audiences, perhaps new ones.