Case Study: Clinton Curtis Connects With Fans And Gives Them Good Reasons To Buy His New Album

from the 2nd-avenue-ball dept

Matt Stine, who runs the music company 27 Sound, wrote the following about an artist he's working with, Clinton Curtis, and the creative ways they've tried to connect with fans and provide reasons to buy for his latest album, 2nd Avenue Ball.

Ever since Mike introduced the concept of CwF + RtB, he has been confronted time and time again with the argument that this concept can only work for well-known artists with large established fanbases. And time after time Mike has provided evidence that CwF + RtB can work for any band or musician at any level. Clinton Curtis' latest release campaign for his new album, 2nd Avenue Ball, is a prime example of how a new artist can use the concepts behind Mike's formula to build a foundation for a successful career while earning money along the way from a small group of "super" fans.

Clinton Curtis' 2nd Avenue Ball comes out today, March 22nd but it has been available for Pre-Order since March 1st. My company, 27 Sound, has been responsible for every aspect of the campaign, from producing and recording the music, to designing to developing the marketing and promotion strategy. Although technically this is Clinton's second album, Clinton is still very much a new artist, and we treated this latest release as if it was his first. Clinton had been playing a lot of shows locally and regionally over the past year, and acquired a decent amount of email addresses at those shows. We knew that a small percentage of those fans would likely support Clinton going forward. Our goal was to offer something unique to those fans already in Clinton's network and at the same time create ways for Clinton to connect with potential new fans.

In designing Clinton's website, we wanted to make sure we were giving Clinton's fans a reason to return to the site on a regular basis. We created two new elements -- CC Radio and CC Connect. CC Radio is essentially a bi-monthly live show, broadcast directly to Each episode features members of Clinton's band, guest musicians, friends and even Clinton's fans, getting together at 27 Sound Studios to perform a solid hour of music. Powered by Ustream, it's really simple to use, easy to integrate into the website and shareable across all major social networks. In fact, Clinton's album release party will actually be a CC Radio episode (9:30PM EST tonight, Tuesday March 22nd) which is a much more effective use of time and money than trying to throw a big party at a NYC venue. CC Radio is an exciting way to keep fans coming back to the site and a great way for Clinton to connect directly with his them. It has been a huge success in only it's first two months. The fans love it, and the easy sharing capability brings more traffic to Clinton's online store.

Once fans reach Clinton's Online store we wanted to be sure that we gave them plenty of incentive to buy directly from us. We created CC Connect, Clinton's "VIP" fan club, to add value to all of our direct-to-fan offerings. Any package purchased through comes bundled with a lifetime membership to CC Connect. CC Connect members get free download packs each month featuring exclusive previously unreleased music, live recordings, studio demos, audio from CC Radio episodes and more. They also get ticket and merch discounts as well as an entire fully-produced album recorded exclusively for CC Connect members each year. By doing this we add a tremendous amount of value to each package we offer through the site, giving fans a good reason to buy.

For 2nd Avenue Ball, we worked hard to come up with a variety of packages that we think will please Clinton's fans and drive their support. I won't go into too much detail here on each one, but there are a couple of noteworthy items in the biggest, Super Fan Deluxe Package that I think might interest Techdirt readers.

Each of the 50 Deluxe packages come with gatefold vinyl packaging but the vinyl record inside is not Clinton's album. We don't yet have enough demand among Clinton's fans to warrant manufacturing and selling vinyl, but we wanted to showcase the amazing album artwork we had from an incredible young artist, Matthew Burrows. We planned on putting high quality art prints of his work inside as an insert where the vinyl record would normally go. But then we had the idea to also include an actual LP from Clinton's personal vinyl collection. Along with the LP, each package comes with a note about what that album meant to Clinton and what significance it had to his musical upbringing. We thought this would be a cool way to make each package completely unique.

Then we thought to return the favor.... If people get a piece of Clinton's favorite music, we should give them back some of their favorite songs, too. So anyone who orders this package gets an email from Clinton asking for their favorite song, and then Clinton records that song and sends it directly to their inbox. Yes, it will be a lot of work for us to put this together, but it will give each of these 50 fans something special that they really want. And who knows, maybe some great recordings will come of it! (In fact, almost all of these Deluxe packages have sold out at the time of writing this, and the song requests have been really cool, including one person who requested an original song that his 9 year old son wrote.)

These are just a few of the things that are unique about this campaign although there are many others (including the "Turn This CD Into A Coaster" Kit that comes with each disc!). Have a look over at to see the package offers in more detail and explore around the site to see more ways Clinton is actively connecting with his fanbase. I would love to hear people's thoughts and ideas on what we could be doing better. I always keep reminding our team that this is all an experiment and we need to adapt and change every day as we learn from the feedback we get from our fans. So visit the site and help us out!

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Mar 2011 @ 2:05pm

    A whole lot of "how", but not much "how effective". If anything, it sounds like they are sort of trying to get people like you to write about it on blogs to generate some sort of activity.

    Please, correct me if I am wrong.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), 22 Mar 2011 @ 2:19pm


    Meh. A band only needs a 1000 'true' fans for support. But, having 1 ^ (10 * 9) 'fair weather' fans doesn't hurt your odds either.

    "How" is indeed discussed. How effective? Guess we'll find out. For one thing, it get blogs like this to write about it. And publicity is good. ^_^

    Are you wrong? I dunno. Time will tell, I guess.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Mar 2011 @ 2:20pm


    Quite effective. It is something unique for you and only you. That gives it automatic sentimental value, thereby increasing its value to you. And you tend to brag more about something unique that a famous person did for you then a generic something that anyone can get.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Matthew (profile), 22 Mar 2011 @ 2:30pm


    I'm tempted to buy one of the special editions just because it's such a cool idea and i've never even heard the guy before today.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    matt stine (profile), 22 Mar 2011 @ 2:54pm

    Re: Re:

    These are great comments so far.

    Yes, time will certainly tell the tale, but the bigger question to ask might be how do you measure "effectiveness"?

    Money earned is not always the best measure of an effective release campaign. In this case, Clinton has almost sold out of the Super Fan Deluxe Package ($55/each) which means that we were effective in coming up with an offer that his die hard fans really want.
    But most of those came during the pre-order period. Now that the album is released the campaign is just beginning. We can use the money earned in pre-order to help fund new experiments going forward. And most of those experiments will be designed to bring in a new audience. New fans.

    That's where CC Connect, CC Radio and the offer of Free downloads come into play....Hopefully we will see a significant increase in Clinton's network over the next couple of months. We have already seen CC Radio viewership increase with each episode and we expect tonight's show to be a BIG one!

    Every artist is different and each campaign must be approached with different expectations. Sometimes knowing "how" to do something is the most important step. Just do it the best you can and learn from each step you take.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    matt stine (profile), 22 Mar 2011 @ 2:57pm

    Re: Re:

    Thanks for pointing that out....It's the "unique-ness" and the personal touch that Clinton is bringing to this that is key to this campaign. Sometimes finding out what your fans would really love to have is the hardest part. You have to CONNECT with them, sometimes literally ASK them what they want and then your job is to make it easy for them to get it!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    matt stine (profile), 22 Mar 2011 @ 2:58pm

    Re: Re:

    Awesome! Better hurry....There are only a couple left!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Hothmonster, 22 Mar 2011 @ 3:35pm

    Just wow.

    Its that kinda of innovating thinking, and personal attention to the artist and fans that has the legacy industry running around like chickens sans head.

    Ill check out the free half of the album and keep my eyes peeled for more great ideas/offerings by 27 sound.

    Fuck warner and their advance if an artist can get this kinda personilzed love from their label.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    ?, 22 Mar 2011 @ 3:42pm

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 2:05pm

    Wouldn't "they" and "people like you" be the same person since the writer runs the label? Its sounds like you are trying to get yourself to write about....

    He can't tell you how effective someting on going is, he can tell you about how awesome their ideas are.

    Your not wrong your just trying to be a dick.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    freak (profile), 22 Mar 2011 @ 3:47pm

    Awesome ideas, guys! :D

    I'm giving the album a listen now; So far it doesn't sound like my kinda music, but I like the ideas and incentives you're offering for your fans. Who knows, maybe it'll catch on me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Shaun, 23 Mar 2011 @ 2:48am

    Only $55?

    Hi guys,

    been following the site and CwF + RtB for a while.

    I know profit isn't the only motive for offering the super fan deluxe ultimo package but it seems like you guys are creating a lot of added extras and I feel the price is too low. Seriously, if an artist I liked were to produce such a package and in such a limited quantity I would happily pay $200 plus.

    Possibly you are using this as a way to build a fanbase as if he hasn't sold all 50 already then it must be quite small.

    So my question is, are you making a profit from the super fan package or is it simply a way to better CwF?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    The eejit (profile), 23 Mar 2011 @ 5:26am

    Matt, I have a quick question for you: are you a part of the Top Spin label, by any chance?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    matt stine (profile), 23 Mar 2011 @ 8:21am

    Re: Only $55?

    Good question here....We worked very hard to come up with a package that was loaded with value but was inexpensive to produce. We wanted to keep the price down as much as we could so that Clinton's die-hard fans would jump at the chance to get this package. But we do indeed intend to profit off of these offers and the margin on even the $55 package is pretty good. Good enough that we have already earned back our initial investment in producing these packages and we still haven't sold out yet....

    It may seem impossible that we were able to keep our costs down enough to allow for a good profit margin on these, but the truth is, if you are creative and work hard enough you can find ways to get what you want cheaply. It takes a lot of hours of research, but thanks to the internet we were able to find cheap ways to produce the items we wanted.

    Would I have liked to charge $200 for that package? Of course. And one day Clinton will charge that much for something.... But at this stage in his career it was important to build the foundation for direct-to-fan sales through We don't want to scare people away with a big price tag, we want to provide huge value for a surprisingly little amount and make a place people want to come back to. And we found a way to do this and still make some dough!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    matt stine (profile), 23 Mar 2011 @ 8:25am

    Re: Topspin label?

    27 Sound is an independent company. But Topspin doesn't really have a label. There are hundreds and hundreds of artists using the Topspin platform to manage their direct-to-fan marketing campaigns. I'm trained by Topspin and was an early adopter of the software so I have been using it for a bunch of artists' campaigns, not just the artists associated with 27 Sound.
    But as far as I know, Topspin isn't a label and does not have plans of becoming one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    The eejit (profile), 23 Mar 2011 @ 9:29am

    Re: Re: Topspin label?

    Fair enough - I misunderstood.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    Brendan (profile), 23 Mar 2011 @ 9:59pm

    Re: Re: Only $55?

    I had this same comment, $55 seemed quite low for the value I see in the package -- and I'm not even a fan (yet)!

    Perhaps next time 'round CC can command a higher price point, even with a larger number of units.

    I've also always been a fan of the "private show" tier being offered by artists.

    "$500 -- I come play a show at your house/backyard for you and your friends"

    Cheers for trying new things, and finding success. I'll keep my eye on you guys.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. icon
    matt stine (profile), 24 Mar 2011 @ 10:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Only $55?

    Thanks for the kind words! Yeah, I love the idea of doing a private show. We are going to be trying something like that soon but it will be a show specifically for CC Connect members....Could be cool.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Shaun, 28 Mar 2011 @ 9:05am

    Re: Re: Only $55?

    Thanks Matt.

    I'm not able to listen to any of the music on my computer at work but will make a note to have a listen when I go online at home.

    I still think that package is phenomenal value. Out of interest how much would shipping to UK be?

    Good luck with with the strategy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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