Nettwerk, Topspin Show: Give People A Reason To Buy... And Many Of Them Come Through

from the some-data dept

In the last post, I showed the video of my presentation at the NARM event full of music industry and music industry retailers. I recognize that not everyone wants to sit through a 30 minute presentation (even though I promise that it goes quickly!), so I did want to highlight two parts of it separately, here in text, that I think are worth calling out. Both show companies that seem to (implicitly or explicitly) recognize what we talk about in terms of enabling artists to better connect with their fans and give those fans a reason to buy -- Topspin and Nettwerk. We've certainly talked about both in various posts, but execs from both companies were kind enough to share some data on some of their experiments that have not been reported elsewhere, and which I thought was worth sharing.

Topspin, of course, has built up a platform to better enable artists to both connect with fans and to give them a reason to buy, and has been able to work with some fantastic artists, both big and small, including Eminem, Paul McCartney, the Beastie Boys, Metric, Beck, Van Hunt, David Byrne and a bunch of others as well. The exciting thing is the level of success Topspin has found with these artists:
  • The average transaction price across all Topspin artists has been $22. Compare that to the average price of a CD, which remains between $12 and $14. If you give people a reason to buy, they're willing to pay more. It's obviously not just about "getting stuff for free" as some contend.
  • Even better, two separate artists using TopSpin have found that their average transaction price is between $50 and $100.
  • Finally, one artist using Topspin has found (amazingly) that the average transaction price from what was being offered was greater than $100.
  • And, on top of that, on one recent project, they found that 84% of the orders were premium offers (meaning above the lowest tier).
The idea that people just want stuff for free? Debunked. Give people a reason to buy in the form of real value they can't get elsewhere, and they absolutely will. About an hour after my talk, Ian Rogers, CEO of Topspin did a keynote interview at the same event. You can watch it here:
Separately, we've definitely been quite impressed with what Terry McBride has done lately with some artists who work with Nettwerk, the indie label/artist management company. Terry's very much been a believer in the mantra of connecting with fans and giving them a reason to buy, and has even talked about how the whole concept of copyright has become outdated. His view isn't that this is necessarily a good or bad thing, but it's just the way it is, and in helping the artists he works with, they have to figure out ways to work with it. To date, that's included a lot of creative ideas for better connecting with fans and then giving them a reason to buy. One experiment he did was with the artist K-OS, who did a few different experiments, starting with allowing the fans to create their own "mix" of his latest album. Not a remix, but a mix. They released the stems of the songs before the album was released, let the fans create their own mixes, had them vote on the best, and then released two albums at the same time. One was the "pro" mix and the other was the "fan" mix. Then you could buy either one separately, or both together as a package.

The second experiment was the "pay on your way out" concert tour. Realistically speaking, this was a series of ten "free" shows. You could get in for free, but they asked you to pay what you felt was reasonable on the way out. Given the insistence by people that fans just want something for free, you would expect that very few would actually pay anything at all. Of course, that wasn't what happened.

Terry was kind enough to share with us some data from the experiment. Despite being free to come and go without paying anything, 63% of people attending ended up donating money on the way out. Now I'm sure some folks will mock this and say that he could have made more by charging everyone, but it seems quite likely that a lot more people came out to these free shows than if he had made people pay in advance. Almost two thirds of people ended up paying, totally voluntarily -- and their average donation was $6. Again, some will claim that this is low, but you have to look at the bigger overall picture. During this tour each of the two K-OS CDs were separately in the top 50 list of best sellers.

So, he gave a series of free shows that ended up bringing in tens of thousands of dollars combined (average attendance at each show was approximately 1,000 people) and it helped get a lot of people to buy both the CDs that were being offered in support of K-OS. Some people are going to nitpick the numbers, of course, but the evidence remains clear again: it's not that fans just want stuff for free. If you give them a reason to buy, an awful lot of them will absolutely buy.
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Filed Under: business models, economics, music, stories, success
Companies: nettwerk, topspin


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  1. icon
    Farrell McGovern (profile), 22 Jun 2009 @ 6:54pm

    Cart before the horse?

    Most artists do not do music to make money. They do it because they like to play music.

    This is an important thing to remember, because of most of them could have a reasonable income, say equiv to $30,000 a year, most would be ecstatic to get that and be able to play music full time. They don't need millions dollars, they just want a living wage which will enable them to do what most people want to do...hang out with friends, get married, have kids, etc. Most musicians are just everyday people.

    So rather than rig the system so that it only works when the artist is selling in the millions of dollars, we need to re-jig it so that artists make a living wage. That some will do better is a given...I maintain that given a model like this we would have more good music, less filler, and more people would hear good music. Music is part of life, even if you are not a musician.

    Of course, if we set it up so that the musicians get paid a living wage, so, too will people within the record companies. We don't need CEOs who get a million dollar bonus every time they blow their nose! And I ask you, do you really think that anyone can really be worth HALF A BILLION DOLLARS as the CEO of a company? Over a lifetime, never mind as a yearly wage? I don't either. But this is a different conversation...

    ttyl
    Farrell

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