You might know Rachael Yamagata as a performer who’s toured with The Swell Season, Sara Bareilles, Adam Cohen, and opened for David Gray solo at Madison Square Garden.  You might also know her as a songwriter whose collaborated with Jason Mraz, Mandy Moore, Dan Wilson, Katherine McPhee, and sang on recordings by Rhett Miller, Bright Eyes, Dave Matthews, Ray LaMontagne and Ryan Adams.  Rachael has put out three full length records both on and off major labels, and this past summer she enrolled in Berkleemusic’s Online Music Marketing with Topspin course. Berkleemusic’s fall 2012 term begins on September 24th.

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Mike King:  We’re ten weeks into the online course. What has your experience been like so far?

Rachael Yamagata: It’s been so good – I feel like if I had been this engaged in college I would have done much better!  I’m super into it. There’s a bunch of people in the class that are coming from a tech background, and a variety of other musicians in there that provide great perspectives on marketing. It makes the weekly live discussions so interesting, and the material the students are posting is great.  I’m all about it.

Before I took the class, I was trying to educate myself by watching YouTube videos of different online music marketing conferences.  This course is a great master class overview on exactly what I was searching for, and it’s all super fascinating to me.  I’ve had such a roller coaster ride in industry, and there have been times where I have been completely unaware of all of the new technologies or campaign ideas or where the money is going, and not really knowing the ins and outs or whys as much as I should have. I think a lot of artists are encouraged to not worry about it; they are encouraged to keep the creative and business side of the music business separate. I love the idea of looking at music as a purely creative endeavor, but I’ve had enough years in the business to know that it has ultimately been a disservice to me to not understand how the marketing and business works.  It really changes fundamental business decisions. Having a team is great, but building up your own education is only going to help you.

MK: How did you find out about the course?

RY: My friend Kevin Salem. He’s my mentor and producer, and he’s been involved in music for 30 years. He’s seen me since the birth of career, and witnessed my experiences on two major labels to becoming independent. He’s seen all the transitions of my career, from playing for five people to playing for 1000 people.

He’s a DIY sort of guy when it comes to the business of music, and he was talking about Topspin as a great way to engage with fans, and was talking about the whole DTF idea, all terms I was sort of aware of, but because he suggested it I paid attention.  I researched what Topspin was, and who uses it, and came upon the class in my research.

I released an indie record last year, my first one working as my own label.  My team for that round was guided by management, MRI Distribution and RED.  They did a fabulous job, but to extend my experience for future releases, particularly with DTF, I wanted to learn how Topspin could help. The technology associated with Topspin can be overwhelming at first, and I was concerned about whether or not I was qualified to even take the Topspin course. I have a great philosophical background and I have a lot of experience, but I was frightened of the tech part. So I reached out to the student advisors at Berkleemusic, and ultimately just took a chance, and I’m so glad I did. If I hadn’t enrolled, I’d probably still be sitting here fishing for tips on the Internet. It’s so much more of a class than I thought it would be.

MK: How so?

RY: First, it’s a great overview of the industry in general.  The course bridges terms on the technology side, on the marketing side, and on the direct to fan side.  It really brings it all together.  Each lesson is totally focused on a particular area of marketing or business.  For example – we have discussions on areas outside of DTF marketing, like third party online retail, and we talk about things like the pros and cons of Spotify. The focus areas are things all artists should think about. You also get the ability to have educated dialogue with your classmates and your instructor about the things that affect all artists. There are so many tools now to help expand your fan base. It’s huge

Every label, or manager, or advisor, in whatever way, they all have their own system for working.  There is the old school way, and then there are the new Amanda Palmers of the world.  There are varied options for moving forward in your career. This is an objective course, and it shows you how things are changing, and why some things have failed. It also shows you the potential options for the future, and let’s you decide what is best for your own career.  The course does not have you adapt to a particular ‘one size fits all’ philosophy, as that is out dated. I find it all very empowering.

I’m working on my Spinshop online store right now, and I’m excited to have an outlet for creative releases that go beyond just the record download.  With a new knowledge of things like data tracking, merch margins, and specifics about my fan base, I can create bundles of offerings that I think will be more in tune with what my fans are craving from me.  To be able to turn my website into a supportive business platform in this way will offer more funding for things like touring and future releases.  Also, compiling things like geographical data on my fan base allows me to get a better handle on places I should be touring that I may have missed.  Again, the bird’s eye overview on your fan reach that you start to get by taking this course allows you to coordinate all sorts of campaign ideas with each other.  You learn how to see what’s working and what isn’t, and get the tools to make smarter decisions all around.

MK: Can you talk about your instructor, Chandler Coyle?

RY: Chandler is so knowledgeable about technology, and how you can use technology to work for you to do something.  Also, his overview on the broader campaign concepts is awesome.  His insights on the assignments are super thorough, and he’s always making suggestions about things I may have missed. He does a great job of adding daily updates, and because of the articles that he is posting, I am now following some really fascinating tech folks.  Coming from a place where music technology has scared me, it’s great.  I am so interested in it now.  He’s really good in showing you how technology is used effectively in the music business, and he does a great job of bringing it all forward. I think he’s been supportive of me too because I have been so engaged in the course.  He’s always willing to expand on things.

Chandler provides a constant influx of great ideas, and I think it’s really good to have somebody acting as a moderator in the course. Having someone to tie these things together is invaluable.  He’s great at bringing ideas down to earth.

MK: Can you give me a quick example of something that’s changed for you since you took the course?

RY: Sure.  There was a morning a couple weeks back where I wanted to create an email for media widget.  I’ve never pictured myself sitting back making widgets, but I built one pretty quickly, and I was able to get 100 new fans in an hour, on a Saturday.  I couldn’t believe that I had just made something like that, and received that kind of response.  The direct gratification is so important for an artist like me. I’ve always had webmasters, and I would have to wait two days to upload something.  To be able to pull something off on my own is awesome.  In the future, I can assign this sort of thing to someone else, if I want, but now I know the specifics about how it all works, and what can be done.

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One of the online sales techniques I’ve been advocating in my online courses is for artists to create different physical and digital products and make them available on their own site at tiered price points. The idea is that you can offer something for all of your fans – the hard core fans might be interested in something from you that is a little more personalized and rare, and newer fans might be able to get something from you that wont break the bank. All the while you have the ability to offer something that cannot be purchased at traditional retail, which makes the experience of purchasing off of your site more rewarding for your fans. Here’s an example from the Yim Yames site:

Determining what you offer – and at what price point – is an art that takes into account a number of factors. For example, if the goal of your campaign is to expose your music to as many folks as possible, you’ll want to price some of your items lower and take a lower margin per unit. You’ll also want to take into account what unique items your specific psychographic would respond to the best. If you’ve determined that one of the psychographic traits your community shares with you is a love for vegetarian food, you might want to create a downloadable PDF vegetarian cookbook for your fans as a value add (similar to what Jonsi and Alex did for their fans).

Another important factor in creating an effective product and pricing plan is to use data to determine what options might create the best result for you; which brings me to the point of my post.

John Grubber turned me onto a fantastic post written a few weeks ago by Craig Mod, describing how he and Ashley Rawlings used the fundraising website Kickstarter to self publish a book by generating $24,000 in 30 days. The entire post is well worth reading, and although Craig and Ashley’s goal was to generate funding for their book, I think there’s a lot of similarities between his execution on Kickstarter and the execution of a successful music-focused DTF sales campaign on your own site.

Once Craig and Ashley had determined the overall goal of their campaign – to sell enough books to generate a return substantial enough to further expand their existing or similar publishing endeavors – their next step was to figure out what their strategy would be for the pledge tier offerings. WIth Kickstarter, people pledge a pre-determined amount of money towards a project on a tiered basis, and get something tangible in return, once the project is funded. Kickstarter’s tiered pledge functionality is not dissimilar to what a musician would offer for sale on their own site to their fans.

What was really interesting to me about what Craig and Ashley did for their book project was that they looked at the top 30 grossing Kickstarter campaign to determine the most successful tiers of pledges. This provided Craig with data that he could use, in his words, to “look for a balance between number of pledges and overall percentage contribution of funds.” Take a look at his graph below:

Chris’ analysis of this data is spot in, and I’d like to quote his thoughts from his blog, here:

This data is, of course, hardly perfect (for example, not every project I looked at used the same tiers). But it’s good enough to give us a sense of what price ranges people are comfortable with.

The $50 tier dominates, bringing in almost 25% of all earning. Surprisingly, $100 is a not too distant second at 16%. $25 brings in a healthy chunk too, but the overwhelming conclusion from this data is that people don’t mind paying $50 or more for a project they love.

It’s also worth contemplating going well beyond $100 into the $250 and $500 tiers: they scored relatively high pledging rates compared to other expensive tiers.

The lower tiers — less than $25 — are so statistically insignificant (barely bringing in a combined 5% of all pledges) that I recommend avoiding them. Of course this depends on your project — perhaps there’s a very good reason for a $5 tier. More importantly, this data shows that people like paying $25.

Having too many tiers is very likely to put off supporters. I’ve seen projects with dozens of tiers. Please don’t do this. People want to give you money. Don’t place them in a paradox of choice scenario! Keep it simple. I’d say that anything more than five realistic tiers is too many.

The overall results that Craig outlines above are generally similar for musicians who offer a range of products at tiered pricing levels on their own site. While I do think that offerings of less than $25 do make sense for most musicians, Craig’s overall idea of not providing too many low cost items make sense. For example, I’ve spoken to a number of my students and other artists that are interested in offering $1.00 singles off of their site. While this is possible to do, providing a lower revenue option like that tends to incentivize potential curious fans downward, as opposed to incentivizing folks to purchase a higher priced option.

Based on the data that Craig obtained from past Kickstarter campaigns, he created the following pledge tiers:

Lastly, Craig and Ashley engaged in a wonderful online promotional campaign that focused on their permission based social medial digital touchpoints, as well as key design blogs and magazine sites that were completely in target with their psychographic and demographic. They focused their messaging campaign using Twitter and Facebook (their messaging was relevant and minimal, too), as well as their own mailing list.
Craig and Ashley had build up an extensive mailing list of design and art world over the past 6 years, which they leveraged nicely. Take a look at the timing of their targeted email campaigns, and the results:

Example of the artwork that was used for the email:

Perhaps most impressive was Craig’s outreach strategy to the blogs that he felt were a laser shot target for what he was doing with this project, and his method of communication to them. He was not focused on quantity of external outreach – he was more interested in the quality of the blogs he did focus on. Again, this is fundamental marketing strategy that all artists could use to their benefit. Again, in Craig’s words:

“I’m writing to blogs that I’ve been reading for years, so for me, referencing older posts of theirs and personalizing these emails is trivial, and fun. Whatever you do, don’t send scattershot emails to media outlets. Be thoughtful. The goal is to appeal to editors and public voices of communities that may have an interest in your work, not spam every big-name blog. A single post from the right blog is 1000% more useful than ten posts from high-traffic but off-topic blogs. You want engaged users, not just eyeballs!”

Here’s his PR results on the project:

While we’re not talking apples to apples between what Craig and Ashley did with their book campaign and an online DTF music campaign, many of the best practices that Craig and Ashely employed in this campaign, from the data analysis they used, to their communication techniques are exactly what independent musicians should be focused on when they engage in online direct to fan sales and marketing campaigns.

Even with all the buzz around online Direct To Fan marketing tools and techniques, I still firmly believe that live events are one of the best ways to connect directly with fans in a meaningful way. Similar to how DTF initiatives have expanded the relationship between artist and fan as it pertains to retail, it’s encouraging to see artists expanding the boundaries of what constitutes a “tour” (such as David Bazan’s “living room” show series) as well.

Artists are becoming more adept at using technological tools and third party partners to bring the spirit and energy of a live event to folks that are unable to attend in person. Sheila Hash, a former Online Music Marketing with Topspin student, is engaging in a wonderful “take-away show” initiative with her band Crush Luther, which provides their hard core fans with an opportunity to check out a unique and personal acoustic performance, and perhaps more importantly, also works as a compelling introduction for casual and potential fans. Take a look at an example, here:

no plan 8 #132. “slowdance anywhere i go” from Justin Borja on Vimeo.

In terms of music marketing, videos events like this can also help to extend the life cycle of a band’s release by providing serialized content well past release date, which is crucial in keeping fans engaged with your band.

Of course traditional live club events still provide an opportunity for artists to establish long-term fan relationships, and Christopher Grant Ward from The Elk (another former student in my Online Music Marketing with Topspin course) has created a wonderful data-driven analysis on the techniques he used to promote his show, with a focus on increasing his number of fans (in this case, defined as permission-based email contacts) and maximizing traffic at the event. While data analysis is key to guiding a successful online music marketing campaign, it’s rare to see an artist go into such detail around a live event. I think what Christopher created is a valuable case study, and I’m psyched to be able to present the details:

Overview:

* Campaign duration: 40 days (02/10 – 03/31)
* Goals:
1) Maximize audience turn-out for the “Rock The Pink Slip” concert
2) Grow the band’s permission-based email list.

Data Analysis of Campaign

(click to enlarge)

Campaign Details

Site Visibility, Pricing, and Acquisition Techniques

A month out from the event, Christopher implemented a tiered approach to selling tickets to the show on his own Website. As mentioned above, the goal of this campaign was focused on increasing the draw to the show and acquiring new fans (as opposed to focusing strictly on monetization), and as such Christopher offered the tickets at extremely reasonable prices: 1 ticket cost $4.00, 2 tickets cost $7, and 4 cost for $10. Because Christopher was using Topspin to facilitate the ticket sales, he was able to collect the email addresses of everyone that purchased from him (thus capturing the fan relationship). PDFs of the tickets were created, and all purchasers were put on a list that the bouncer checked at the door.

Advertising

14 days prior to the event, a small online ad campaign was initiated on Facebook and Google AdWords. Christopher experimented with several sets of ads over the course of the campaign, which correlated to two periods of high click rates (see graph above). The 1st of these high periods targeted a larger, more broad audience and directly promoted the show. This ad yielded the highest click rates but had no conversions.

The 2nd of these periods targeted smaller audiences and promoted the band’s music. These ads yielded somewhat fewer clicks but a significantly higher lift in plays (via a Topspin widget) and emails collected. Messages that directly promoted the show yielded significantly fewer visits, plays and emails collected.

Facebook Video Share Initiative

One month out from the event, Christopher released a video on Facebook, with prominent calls to action and direct links to the ticket offer information on his site. While the video was responsible for the largest spike in plays (Christopher was also using Topspin’s Email for Media and streaming player widgets) during the live event campaign, the video was ineffective at driving traffic or ticket sales.

Campaign Results

Again, as this campaign was focused on growing the band’s permission-based email list, the fan relationship statistics were the main gauge of success.

* Concert Attendees: 211
* # of New Email Addresses: 83. This translated into a 94% increase in the band’s email list.
* Unique Visits to band site: 1384 (based on Google Analytics data from 02/10 – 03/31)
* Total Page Views: 2910 (based on Google Analytics data from 02/10 – 03/31)

While revenue was not the main focus of the campaign, the band didn’t want to lose money, either. Details on expenses and sales for the event:

Ticket Breakdown:

Average ticket price: $5.46
# of $8 (door) tickets sold: 98 ($784)
# of $4 tickets sold: 46 ($184)
# of $3.50 tickets sold: 18 ($66)
# of $2.50 tickets sold: 48 ($120)

Gross Earnings: $1154
less advertising expenses: $325
less club take: $235
================
Net Earnings: $594

Cost Analysis of Emails Collected

It’s difficult to estimate the lifetime value of an email address. Christopher took a stab at estimating the cost of acquiring the 83 emails by dividing the money left on the table if the band did not discount the tickets by the amount of emails collected to come up with a cost of $3.54 per email. The math looks like this:

The band made $370 on tickets sold through direct sales on the site.
If those tickets were sold at full cost (assuming they got the
same number of concertgoers) they would have earned $664 on that same
segment. The money left on the table was $294. Divided by 83 emails, the cost
of each email collected could be calculated as $3.54.

This number was valuable to the band in estimating how they should price their
products and to help them gauge what expenses are cost-effective to building their
Network.

Post-Show Campaign and Analysis

About 30% of total visits to the site and 10% of emails collected occurred *after* the show. The band prepped an HTML page and Topspin widget before the concert. At the show, they used a photographer, videographer and audio engineer to capture live content from the show, and by the time the fans got up the next morning after the show, they had live audio and photos from the show in their inbox. The following weekend, the band released live video of the concert as well, paired with an album purchase offer. Following up with fans after gigs was a great way to continue driving traffic and getting new play and email conversions.

Here’s the video that was sent out post-show:

<param name="flashvars" value="widget_id=http://cdn.topspin.net/api/v1/artist/49/single_track_player_widget/20095?timestamp=1271291020&theme=black&highlightColor=0x00A1FF ” />

Further Analysis and Findings

1. Club ticket sales are time sensitive. Sales of concert tickets on the site were quite low until right before the show. In fact, 95% of ticket sales occurred less than 48 hours before show time (a spike in emails collected on show night can be attributed to these sales.) Even during the band’s largest spike in visits (200+) on March 17th, the band yielded fewer than $10 in sales. Overall, it is impossible to tell how many of these prior visitors may have returned to purchase tickets. Most people probably decide to see a club show within three days of gig night, especially when there is no stated limit on ticket sales.

2. Advertising data showed a lift in the number of visits to the band’s site, but few conversions. The good news is that targeted ads drove traffic, even for an unknown band and small club events. The bad news is that it was impossible to correlate ad clicks to returning visitors who purchased tickets.

3. Christopher’s targeted campaign more than doubled his permission based email list, and created dozens of new fan connections which he can use for re-marketing down the line, for free (as opposed to starting over with his next marketing campaign).

I’d like to thank Christopher for sharing this fantastic data. Follow up with him and The Elk, here.

I feel like I owe an apology for the lack of activity on my blog lately. While I’ve been better about keeping up with Twitter, I’ve definitely let the posts slip here. A resolution of mine for 2010 is to get back on the horse and get the posting schedule back on track. Not that it is any excuse, but I’ve been particularly busy with creating content in a couple of other ways. Here’s what I have been up to over the past few months.

I’ve written two new marketing courses that are enrolling now for Berkleemusic’s next term, starting January 11th. As I have mentioned on this blog before, Online Music Marketing with Topspin (co-authored by Topspin’s Shamal Ranasinghe) will teach you how to use Topspin’s unique marketing, management, and content distribution platform to help you market and retail direct to your fans. In the course, students will develop the in-depth marketing expertise necessary to properly execute a successful sales and marketing campaign using Topspin. You can watch some videos of Topspin’s CEO Ian Rogers and myself talking about online marketing and the course here.

I also just finished a second online music marketing course called Online Music Marketing: Campaign Strategies, Social Media, and Digital Distribution. This course covers some key areas that all marketers need to focus on, such as social media marketing, effective use of data to direct you campaigns, what partners you should be aware of, and much more. By the end you’ll have a fully timed, integrated, and optimized online marketing plan that you can use to generate interest in your music, acquire new fans, and sell your music online. It’s a great companion course to Music Marketing: Press, Promotion, Distribution, and Retail, with a greater focus on the online side of marketing.

Finally, the companion book to Music Marketing: Press, Promotion, Distribution, and Retail is done and available. The book contains additional interviews and content which complements the online course of the same name. I’m giving away a free chapter and selling the book on a discount here if you’d like to check it out.

That’s all from me. I wish you the best in 2010!

Here’s a video of me talking about the new Online Music Marketing: Campaign Strategies, Social Media, and Digital Distribution course:

It’s likely that you’ve heard of Jonathan Coulton. Profiled by NPR and the New York Times, Coulton has been a full time independent musician since he quit his computer programming gig in 2005. After initiating an ambitious project of releasing a new song a week, Coulton started to gain momentum, making what he described as “a reasonable middle-class living” — between $3,000 and $5,000 a month — by selling CDs and digital downloads of his work on his own site and iTunes.

Coulton is prolific in his conversations with his fans online, spending time each day personally answering every email he receives. While his direct to fan approach to sales and marketing includes a partnership with CD Baby (who warehouse and ship his physical CD, as well as get his music to the online retailers like iTunes and Amazon), Coulton’s most lucrative source of income is selling online from his Website.

Check out an audio interview that Scott Kirsner, author of the new book, Fans, Friends & Followers, did with Jonathan Coulton. Interesting ideas on communicating with fans, how Jonathan is using Creative Commons, his primary sources of revenue, his trepidation about signing to a label, and more.

Pay particular attention to Coulton’s recipe for success:

• Solo artist = low overhead when touring
• Records in a home studio = low production costs
• Distributes most of his music digitally = no co-op fees at retail, lower distribution fee
• Fosters a direct connection to his fans = fans are more emotionally involved in what he does
• Few middlemen involved in the chain = most of his income is his alone

Check out the audio interview here:

Anyone that has been following music business trends for the past few years is likely familiar with the high profile direct to fan campaigns (campaigns that focus on the monetization of an artist’s fan base directly) that Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, Imogen Heap, and others have been involved with recently. As Mike Masnick put it in his 2009 NARM Keynote, the recipe for effective direct to fan campaigns can be boiled down to: Connecting with Fans (CwF) + Providing a Reason to Buy (RtB) = $$$. Makes sense, right? The difficulties arise when you consider that there are 5 million bands on MySpace, all of which are vying for the consumer’s attention. It’s easy for NIN and Radiohead to connect with fans, the skeptics’ note, as they have had years of major label support and hundreds of thousands of existing followers to work with. How can a developing artist in this climate differentiate themselves from all the other bands out there?

The answer can be slightly more nuanced than Masnick’s formula above, and to me, is based on a four key elements: 1) setting up an effective offer page on your site that is tailored to your marketing goals and where you are in your marketing cycle, 2) expanding your digital touch points through creative fan acquisition techniques, 3) integrating your online and offline marketing towards the same goal, and lastly, 4) once you’ve created your groundswell of support and fans, integrating effective 3rd party digital and physical marketing, sales, and distribution (such as Tunecore) outlets into the mix. Let’s illustrate these elements with two examples.

Example 1: Fanfarlo

Creating an Effective Offer Page Tailored to Acquisition

Although they were supported by NME in their hometown of London (who have called their release “a carefully orchestrated treat”), and have some high profile fans in the members of Sigur Rós, Fanfarlo found that they were having a tough time breaking into the US market. Fanfarlo’s music is undeniably great (aside: the first step, of course, in any marketing campaign is to have great music. Without this, any DTF marketing campaign will fail), and as such, the plan for breaking Fanfarlo relied a lot on getting as many folks to experience their music as possible, with the end goal of gaining enough interest to pack the Mercury Lounge in NYC (300 capacity).

The band initiated their acquisition-based campaign by looking at what assets and connections they could leverage. Fanfarlo developed a low-cost video, dug up some unreleased tracks, and recorded new acoustic versions. Of particular note, the band’s management reached out to Sigur Rós, who agreed to mention Fanfarlo in one of their emails to their fans.

Prior to any outreach from Sigur Rós, the band knew it was crucial for them to create an offer on their site that would make their music as accessible as possible, while at the same time create a degree of urgency. Again, as monetization was not the driving force behind their campaign at this stage in their marketing process, Fanfarlo decided the best course of action for building up their base was to provide curious potential fans with the opportunity to purchase their record for $1.00 (for a limited time), in exchange for an email address (which provided the band with permission to engage with these fans directly at a later date). They band adjusted their site accordingly, employing best practices with SEO and Web IA, and created an offer page dedicated to highlighting their music and making it easy to purchase via one click off the offer page. This was the result:

Along with the redesigned offer page on their site, the band adjusted all of their social media pages (visibility on MySpace, Wikipedia, Facebook, Last.fm, iLike, YouTube) with appropriate offer copy/images, and links to the offer on their proper site. Once all the backend was done and Fanfarlo was ready for the traffic, Sigur Rós hyped the band in an email to their fans and Fanfarlo essentially had an “offer you can’t refuse” waiting for them. In exchange, the band built up their email list, created a viral buzz on their new record, and not only had enough interest to pack the Mercury Lounge in NYC, they had to upgrade to the larger Bowery Ballroom!

Example 2: The Lights Out

Expanding Your Digital Touch Points through Social Media & Integrating Your Online and Offline Marketing

All marketing campaigns are different, and not everyone has the luxury of having support from major bands like Sigur Rós. But no matter where you are at in your career, core marketing principals hold true, particularly when it comes to effectively using social media to engage your fans and building up your base. The best example of social media campaigns are creative ideas that leverage the viral nature of social media to engage fans and effect change in not only the digital world, but in a band’s physical campaign as well (which of course is still incredibly important to any overall marketing campaign).

The Lights Out is a Boston-based band working to raise their hometown visibility and acquire new fans to positively impact their touring base throughout the Northeast. On the heels of an oppressive heat wave in Boston in mid August, the band initiated a Slush Puppie “flash mob” online marketing campaign. The band found the appropriate location for the event via polling their Twitter followers:

Once the location was chosen, the band set up a Facebook event, which allowed them to update the status of the Slush Mob, get an idea on who was coming, and communicate directly with those that expressed interest.

The band then set up a Twitter hashtag (#), which organized all messaging around the event into a single live channel on Twitter search. The hashtag use also had the all-important added benefit of becoming a “viral generator” for the event, piquing the interest of the band’s follower’s fans, and influencing activity at a level outside of what the band could do with their fanbase directly.

Once the existing fans were engaged in the event, Boston-based bloggers picked up on it, the market’s alternative weekly featured info on the event, and popular Boston-based event and social media Twitterers did the same.

The band continued Tweeting from the event and after, and shared photos of the turnout using Twitpic:

So, what did all this mean to the band’s stated goal of raising their visibility and acquiring new fans?

The data:

• 20% increase in unique web site visitors

• 24 times increase in daily twitter followers

• 3,352 impressions from media coverage

• 66,160 impressions from Tweets and Retweets

• 195 impressions from Twitpics

• Approximate Total: 70,000 impressions

New fans also direct-messaged the band, telling them how much they enjoyed the idea/their music and expressing interest in attending future gigs. And because this social media campaign included an offline component, new fans were able to bond with the band in a more personal way.

Again, all marketing campaigns are different, and should be employed in a way that focuses on the strengths and opportunities of the respective band. The specific tools will certainly continue to change as we move forward, but the principle of determining your core goal and engaging / developing your fan base to reach this goal will not. What’s particularly exciting to me is that artists have the option to market and distribute their music directly, with less gatekeeper involvement, than ever before. We’re in the early stages of direct to fan campaigns, but I think it is undeniable that there is a tremendous amount of growth potential in the segment – and is an area that artists, managers and others (forward thinking, artist-serviced based companies, for example) have to look at very closely.

Great post from Amanda Palmer of the Dresdon Dolls on using online media to connecting directly with fans and make $$$. Love the creativity here…

=====

From: Amanda Palmer
Subject: twitter power, or “how an indie musician can make $19,000 in 10 hours using twitter”

this story has just been blowing people’s minds so i figures i should write it down.

1.
FRIDAY NIGHT LOSERS T-SHIRT, $11,000

about a month ago, i was at home on a friday night (loser that i often am when i’m not touring, i almost never go out) and was, of course, on my mac, shifting between emails, links and occasionally doing some dishes and packing for a trip the next day. just a usual friday-night-rock-star-multi-tasking extravaganza.

i twitter whenever i’m online, i love the way it gives me a direct line of communication with my fans and friends.

i had already seen the power of twitter while touring…using twitter i’d gathered crowds of sometimes 200 fans with a DAY’S notice to come out and meet me in public spaces (parks, mostly) where i would play ukulele, sign, hug, take pictures, eat cake, and generally hang out and connect. this was especially helpful in the cities where we’d been unable to book all-ages gigs and there were crushed teenagers who were really grateful to have a shot at connecting with me & the community of amanda/dolls fans.

i’d also been using twitter to organize ACTUAL last-minute gigs…i twittered a secret gig in LA one morning and about 350 folks showed up 5 hours later at a warehouse space….i played piano, filmed by current.tv, and then (different camera crew) did an interview with afterellen.com.
the important thing to undertsand here is that the fans were never part of the plan..,i basically just INVITED my fans to a press day, the press didnt’ plan it…i did.
i was going to be playing in an empty room and doing q&a with afterellen on a coach with only the camera watching.
it was like….why not tell people and do this in a warehouse instead of a hotel lobby or a blank studio? so i did.

it cost me almost nothing. the fans were psyched.

but back to the bigger, cooler story….

so there i am, alone on friday night and i make a joke on twitter (which goes out to whichever of my 30,000 followers are online):

“i hereby call THE LOSERS OF FRIDAY NIGHT ON THEIR COMPUTERS to ORDER, motherfucker.”
9:15 PM May 15th from web

one thing led to another, and the next thing you know there were thousands of us and we’d become the #1 topic trend on twitter.
zoe keating described it as a “virtual flash mob”.

the way twitter works (if you don’t have it) is that certain topics can include a hashtag (#) and if a gazillion people start making posts that include that hashtag, the topic will zoom up the charts of what people are currently discussing. it’s a cool feature.

so anyway, there we were, virtually hanging out on twitter on a friday night. very pleased with ourselves for being such a large group, and cracking jokes.

how do you “hang out” on the internet? well, we collectively came up with a list of things that the government should do for us (free government-issued sweatpants, pizza and ponies, no tax on coffee), AND created a t-shirt.
thank god my web guy sean was awake and being a loser with me on friday night because he throw up the webpage WHILE we were having our twitter party and people started ordering the shirts – that i designed in SHARPIE in realtime) and a slogan that someone suggested: “DON’T STAND UP FOR WHAT’S RIGHT, STAY IN FOR WHAT’S WRONG”. neil gaiman and wil wheaton joined our party. the fdnas felt super-special.

by the end of the night, we’d sold 200 shirts off the quickie site (paypal only) that sean had set up.
i blogged the whole story the next day and in total, in the matter of a few days, we sold over 400 shirts, for $25/ea.

we ended up grossing OVER $11,000 on the shirts.
my assistant beth had the shirts printed up ASAP and mailed them from her apartment.

total made on twitter in two hours = $11,000.
total made from my huge-ass ben-folds produced-major-label solo album this year = $0

2.
WEBCAST AUCTION, $6000

a few nights after that, i blogged and twittered, announcing a “webcast auction” from my apartment.
it went from 6 pm – 9 pm, my assitant beth sat at my side and kept her eyes on incoming bids and twitter feed.
while we hocked weird goods, i sang songs and answered questions from fans. we wore kimonos and drank wine. it was a blast.

people on twitter who were tuned in re-tweeted to other fans. the word spread that it was a fun place to be and watch.
we had, at peak, about 2000 people watching the webcast.

at the suggestion of a fan early in the webcastm anyone could, on demand, send us $20 via paypal and we would chew,
sign and mail them a postcard. we sold about 70, and we read all those names at the end of the webcast and thanked those
people for supporting us. here’s how the sales broke down:

all the items were signed by moi and hand-packed by beth and kayla._ the items and highest bidders were as follows:_ hilary, ukulele used on the european tour: $640 _jake, “guitar hero” plastic guitar controller used in album promo shoot: $250_ lary b, copy neo2 magazine, plus two post-war trade slap-bracelets & a crime-photo set: $230_ devi, glass dildo, with subtley-sordid backstory: $560 _liz b., “hipsters ruin everything” t-shirt, made by blake (get your very own here!!!!): $155.55_shannon m., my bill bryson book, a short history of neary everything: $280_ nikki, huge metal “the establishment” sign, used at rothbury festival for the circus tent i curated: $450 _j.r., purple velvet “A” dress used in the dresden dolls coin-operated boy video shoot: $400_ jessie & alan: who killed amanda palmer vinyl: $100_ nikki: wine bottle, auctioned BY REQUEST!!! $320 _shannon w., torn-to-shit vintage stockings used in the who killed amanda palmer/ michael pope video series: $200 _jodi,
school-note-book break-up letter, written to amanda from jonas woolverton in 7th grade (i still haven’t emailed him about that….): $250_ daryl, ANOTHER wine bottle, by request, that we had LYING AROUND: $320
and…………..
reto emailed, having barely missed the wine bottle, and asked us to send him “something funny” for $129.99. we sent a heath ledger statuette.

total made on twitter in 3 hours, including the postcards, was over $6000.
again, total made on my major-label solo album this year: $0

3.
TWITTER DONATION-ONLY GIG, $1800

a few days later, i twittered a guest-list only event in a recording studio in boston, to take place a week later.
the gig lasted about 5 hours, all told, with soundcheck and signing. i took mostly requests and we had a grand old time.
first come, first served. the first 200 people to ask got in, for free. i asked for donations and made about $2200 in cash.
i gave $400 back to the studio for the space and the help. we sold some weird merch. i think we should call it an even 2k.

total made at last-minute secret twitter gig, in about 5 hours = $2000
major-label record blah blah blah = $0

…..and for fun, and to thank my fans for being awesome, i’ve been doing some twitter perfomance art, including answering their questions by magic-markering my body until it’s covered, and displaying time-lapse make-up application advice….but that’s another story.

TOTAL MADE THIS MONTH USING TWITTER = $19,000
TOTAL MADE FROM 30,000 RECORD SALES = ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

turn on, tune in, get dropped!!!!!

love,
amanda fucking palmer

http://www.amandapalmer.net

http://www.dresdendolls.com

p.s.
if you want to read the full blogs and see the pictures from the #LOFNOTC events, i blogged here:

1. the friday night that started it all:

http://blog.amandapalmer.net/post/111667948/twitter-the-beautiful-losers-lofnotc

2. the webcast and magic-marker/make-up mayhem:

http://blog.amandapalmer.net/post/127401792/wasnt-this-supposed-to-be-my-fucking-week-off

I recommend you watch this outstanding presentation from Techdirt’s Michael Masnick on Trent Reznor’s online marketing techniques.

Key points: engage your fans directly, provide variable products and pricing (including a hi-end deluxe package), use free music as a way to collect fan email addresses, and create an ongoing connection with your fans both online and offline.

Also check out the great ways (via YouTube, Flickr, and fan remixes) that Trent is working to get his fans to interact directly with him via his Web site, and his innovative usage of BitTorrent technology.

Some good examples of bands that have NOT had major label support in the past using these same techniques as well.

Note: Trent and several of the other artists that are mentioned in this presentation are using Topspin’s software. Our online course, Marketing your Music with Topspin, is coming out this September.

Leadership Music Digital Summit 2009 – Entire Mike Masnick keynote presentation, 3/25/09 from Leadership Music Digital Summit on Vimeo.

“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: