Sometimes a post just writes itself. Andy wrote a great post on the TED conference and how they’ve gained by changing their model to include giving away their content for free. An excerpt:
What if the value your service or company provides may not be the one you originally or naturally think it does? TED used to be a simple conference – you pay (a lot) to attend, and in exchange you get to see, in person, some great speakers and meet some interesting people. [...] But then TED started giving away the content (TED talks) – basically for free and in almost real time. [...] So what was the result? The TED brand recognition is greater than ever, its content is viewed on the web by millions of people who have never even been to an event, the TED speaker slot is coveted and is even a form of credibility or accreditation, [...] and the flagship in person conference sells out as fast as it ever did at the same high prices.
In other words, by giving away what one would generally think of as a company’s (a media entity) greatest assets – its content, brand and business processes – the business has grown enormously in just a few short years.
It doesn’t take a genius to translate this to the music industry, and it doesn’t even have to mean give away all your music for free. It could be as simple as making available a “freemium” version of your content, in the same way that our Family Records artist Casey Shea has put all his music on YouTube. The video below, his song “Good Man”, has 22,000 views, mostly due to a placement on TV show One Tree Hill. By perusing the comments for this video you can see this YouTube is what people found that were actively searching for Casey after the show aired. They didn’t go to iTunes, they went to YouTube. The dirty little secret is that they’ll always go to YouTube, which effectively is the most important music streaming platform far ahead of Spotify and Rdio. You can also see that some of these people proceeded to go see Casey in concert. This probably wouldn’t have happened without this “freemium” version of Casey’s content. Casey gained more fans and through that some income that likely wouldn’t have occurred otherwise.*
In the words of Bruno Guissani of TED: “We found that, giving stuff away, we received even more in return”.
* Of course it’s not enough to take only that first step of making a free version available. The second step of trying to convert the people that discover the free stuff to purchasing customers is just as important, if not more. But that’s for another post.
- The Importance Of Free Music (Or Give ‘Em A Taste First) (read)