Benefactors, Listeners & The Curious: Understanding And Monetizing The Modern Fan
Understanding that artists have different kinds of fans and offering something for each is an under appreciated tenant of modern music marketing and monetization. It's the theory that Trent Reznor first proved and that drives successful campaigns on Topspin, Bandcamp and other direct to fan platforms. It's also a lesson that most record labels have not yet embraced. Musician Chris Randall categorizes them as Benefactors, Listeners, and The Curious.
Analyzing stats on his Bandcamp sales pages including some Pay-What-You-Want-Minimum-$1 campaigns.
- "Benefactors kick in ten bucks every time, pretty much no matter what the content."
- "Listeners tend to make a quantitative assessment of the value ('This album has 10 songs, therefor it is $10. This one has 5 songs, so here's your fin.')"
- "The Curious are the ones that pay a buck. I generally put up my EP-sized material for Pay-What-You-Want-Minimum-$1, so this number gets colored."
"Benefactors are who really drive the commercial side of the process," according to Randall on his Analog Industries blog.. "The Listeners are a source of extra income, but they're more fickle..(they) don't buy something they don't like."
Randall defines his own success as "a release I didn't have to spend any of my own money to make. That's the 2011 version of the music industry". But a growing number of artists like Joe Pug, Jonathan Coulton, Amanda Palmer, Zoe Keating, Odd Future and others have set the bar higher and achieved it.
Many artists successfully sell packages that range from $5 to $75 or more and include downloads, t-shirts and one of a kind offerings. Randall also suggests releasing more single songs and two-song packages. "Those of us that are older have an incredibly difficult time getting rid of the notion of the Long Playing Album Of 45 Minutes as a unit of music," he admits. "But in this amazing modern world we live in, that is a relic of the 70s, for better or worse."