In 2000, when Napster was in its heyday, we had a no-Napster rule in our house. One day I walked into my son’s room and saw that he was running Napster. I asked him why. He said that he bought more music because Napster gave him the opportunity to choose the music he liked rather than the pretty packages that music stores were selling.
That rang a bell, and the bell keeps ringing. In 2006 Jay-Z and Coca-Cola put a video clip of Jay-Z’s live concert in Radio City Music Hall on the file sharing networks. The Wall Street Journal published an article on October 18, 2006 entitled, “Record Labels Turn Piracy Into a Marketing Opportunity” that described how successful this was. Here’s a quote from the article:
“But now there’s a growing recognition among some record executives and performers that the people who are downloading illegally are frequently huge music fans and that marketing to them may be more desirable in the long run than suing or otherwise harassing them.”
Several years ago Eric Clapton’s managers put a Flash widget out on the P2P networks. It included two great music videos, one with Eric Clapton and one of Carlos Santana, a YouTube video of ZZ Top, along with other things which helped the downloader connect with Eric Clapton. The goal was to sell an Eric Clapton music video DVD. It worked so well they did it three times.
Iron Maiden used data about file sharing from MusicMetric to see that they had a huge base of fans in South America, in particular Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia, and Chile . They booked a tour, and raked in $2,580,000 from a single show in Sao Paolo.
Grammy Award winning Counting Crows did a deal with BitTorrent in which they shared four new tracks, liner notes, and artwork from the album directly to BitTorrent users.
Counting Crows lead singer Adam Duritz said, “I don’t know how I didn’t think of this earlier – it’s the most obvious thing in the world since BitTorrent has such a huge global reach. It’s not just about getting music to the people who would buy it anyway – even though that is, of course, very good – the hardest thing to do is make new fans.”
The digital world and the internet are revolutionizing the music industry. 500 years ago the church put people to death for using the printing press. That didn’t stop the printing press. Studies show that people who share files spend between 30% and 35% more on music. It is time for musicians to find ways to connect with- and get revenue from- file sharers.
Tom Jeffries, CEO and Founder, Safe-Xchange