“Talking gross numbers that come directly to the band, we have made more money already than we have on the last record in four years,” said Mathieu Drouin, the band’s co-manager.

Great piece in the L.A. Times today on Metric. The band is forgoing a traditional record deal and focusing on alternative income sources and direct to fan sales and marketing techniques for their most recent release “Fantasties.” Direct to fan has been a proven model for megastars like Radiohead and Trent Reznor, and it’s encouraging to see a “middle class” musician (Metric’s 2005 release “Live It Out,” sold 45,000 copies) having success using a similar template.

Some takeaways from the effort:

1) Without the distribution fee and record royalties that a major label and distributor would charge, Metric is able to net $.77 per iTunes track as opposed to something closer to the $.22 per track a label would pay (this figure includes international downloads, which could pay the artist more than the US standard of $.70 per track by going direct)
2) As distribution follows marketing, Metric has hooked up with Topspin to handle the online direct to fan marketing and sales efforts. Take a look at their Website, here. Fantastic way to leverage “free” to acquire names for the mailing list, they have an active blog area, and most importantly, they are engaging in variable product and pricing which everyone from the hard core fan to the curious potential fan can engage in. Again, because the band is selling direct, their profit margin is much higher. Metric sold out of an initial allotment of 500 deluxe packages in 48 hours, said Drouin, who estimated a profit of $13 to $15 per unit. “We can never offer a fan that much value at that price if we had to go through a record company, distributor and a retailer. We cut out three rungs.”
3) The band made the entire record available for free as a stream a month before release, creating widgets that could be embedded in fans Websites (provided by Topspin). Folks were able to become familiar with the new record, they liked what they heard, and they paid for the record when it was released commercially. This is the “emotional connection” theory in action.
4) The band worked with independent distributor Redeye for the physical CD. Because Metric has a track record and had analytics that proved people were into the record, Redeye had an easier time shipping the record to physical independent record stores.
5) Canada supports the arts. The Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent on Recordings provided the band with $50,000 to cover recording costs, as well as a smaller federal grant.

Major labels are traditionally known for A) financing, B) marketing, C) distribution. I think Metric is a great example of a band that not only accomplishing all of these things outside of the traditional model, but is making more money because of it. Check out a cool Elliott Smith cover by the band:

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    This is exactly what I wanted to hear. Sure, NIN and Radiohead can tell a label to stick it, but an indie band whose last album sold 45,000 copies? Awesome.

    An inexpensive marketing tool is stickers for your band. We got a good deal at stickerjunkie dot com for our our band stickers…

    Anton

    It’s a distorted picture. Without great amounts of government-backed funding, bands like Metric would not function. (Huge amounts of money were poured into Metric to even get it to the stage discussed here.) So, it’s really not a fan model. it’s a government subsidy model with all the inherent artistic and commercial failings of such a grant system.

    So? Whats wrong with that.. Its better then a label who wants control. Be happy in the fact your government wont step in creatively. I applaud Metric and Matthew they are setting a new standard.

    - Kevin Akron, OH

    Nexus Music Group

    But Kevin – how realistic is that for most bands? How many bands can easily acquire $50K for recording costs? Probably not many, right? So it’s not really a “repeatable” model, in that respect…right? Or am I missing something?

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