Per Bob Lefsetz: Amanda Hocking
Nobody is asking us to sell all of our products for less than cost; that’s obviously not sustainable. If you want to reduce the price of your music so as to make up the difference in volume, (pretty much the proposition, here) you first have to have a product that people want, second, you need the means to produce the product at a very low cost, thirdly you need the ability to distribute the product at a very low cost, and lastly, (you see where I’m going, here?) the means to promote the product at a very low cost. You need an app for that, in other words.
You’re sitting in front of that very tool, reading this. So, if your product is the straightforward delivery of great songs, rather than stellar production values or a hot band, all you really need is a guitar, a microphone and a computer. (maybe also a YouTube account) The internet has given us all these wonderful tools, but it took something away, as well; it made us all local musicians and turned all the labels into banks. If I want a career, I now need to think like a record label, which means paying attention to a lot more than just the music; I need to know who’s going to buy my record before I make the record. The reason? Downloads don’t replace CDs, CDs don’t replace vinyl and streaming won’t replace downloading. (though it might replace radio)
Different fans have different needs and they purchase music different ways; some will only come to the show, but might buy a T-shirt and a CD while they’re there, others will want only vinyl, or a download, but might also buy a hoodie or a coffee mug, maybe a sticker. If you’ve really got the goods, some of your fans may want all of the above, or to go camping or on a cruise with you. Some might pay you a thousand dollars for a concert in their living room. The point isn’t to give away the store, but to make the entry point for new fans cheap, simple and easy, and maybe you have to have some options that are free. You don’t need to carry loads of inventory in this on-demand world, but you do have to know who your fans are and what they’ll buy.
I am a record label, I can do whatever I want with my music, including discount my physical product once I’ve recouped my initial investment, which I could get by crowdfunding, if I’m not making enough from gigs. There are sites available such as Groupon, where the more people sign up for a product, the cheaper it gets-what could be a more ideal platform for recoupment? If I know that 1,000 people are willing to pay two bucks apiece to get a physical copy of my next record before anybody else, I could order 2000 discs from Discmakers, and price the second thousand however I please, or even give them away at shows. Everybody wins!
*credit and thanks to Teresa James for the Sandy Beaches Cruise/Delbert McClinton link.