Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Musican - Fan Commongrounds

A look at a new marketing scheme that could make musicians and fans love each other again.

 A sad truth about many music goers these days, we'd like to see change!

Let's face it, musicians these days are getting hurt.  Not necessarily by big label companies, or by sneaking paparazzi... but their fans!  Pirating of songs has been around for a while - since the 1960's actually even though it was a lengthy project back then : (Source).  But basically if you know anything about computers and music, you know its a LOT easier now than it was back then (even if you weren't born back then, you probably know this).  And there isn't much musicians can do, short of the random lawsuit, and ask Gilbert Gottfried to speak on their behalf. 

 Now while he makes some good analogies, and is fighting for a good cause... lets face it, how many people will actually stop downloading their music because Gilbert Gottfried tells them to go f*@!k themselves?   If a person is acting outside the law, that means they don't really care, or care as much, and a simple "please stop" or "F*%#king STOP!" wont really do much, so there needs to be a plan to solve this dispute, besides asking nicely.

The Best of Both Worlds - The Base Idea

     Instead of musicians fighting pirating fans, musicians should use addicting marketing schemes to make fans prove their loyalty over each other by marketing them things which they will not be able to pirate.  If musicians can give their songs away for free, but still get their fans to buy merchandise and go to concerts, both sides would get what they want.  Fans get to listen to all the music they want without guilt, and musicians get paid for their hard work.

Our Inspiration
     Jesse Schell was the Creative Director of the Disney Imagineering Virtual Reality Studio, along with a few other titles under his belt, so its not a leap of faith to say this guy holds a least a little credibility.  And he has an interesting look at the future where apparently everything you ever do is tracked, and rewarded.  If you have ever been to TED.com, you would know that although some "TEDTalks" are about some pretty outward thinking ideas, they have at least some truth to them, otherwise TED wouldn't film and sell tickets to these TEDTalks.  So lets look at what Jesse is saying, and why we think what he is saying is important to music.  Right around the 20:00 mark, he starts talking about being "watched" and given points for everything you do.  As creepy as this sounds some of it may be the future of marketing.   And not just for Coke and Pepsi, but for emerging and fabled musicians.  But we don't just want this to be a 'fairy tale' idea.  So lets talk about what needs to happen for this to work in the next post. (Click Here)

And here's another anti-piracy video just for kicks:


Before we dig too deep into our plan, lets introduce ourselves, shall we?

Ian Pommer
Hi, I'm Ian, currently a student at the U of Minnesota, and I love music. I listen to a lot, I want to say I listen to about everything, but there are some genres just too weird for me, and lots I've probably never heard of. But I do listen to a wide variety including such groups as, Howie Day, Los Lonely Boys, Metallica, The Beatles, The Doors, Del tha Funkee Homosapien, Kid Cudi, Biggie Smalls, Imogen Heap, Eminem, 3 Doors Down, The Shins and even some Taylor Swift. Now people like me face a moral/financial dilemma. Do I pirate songs to save the thousands of dollars I would spend otherwise and risk facing retribution from a label company and get sued for thousands of dollars anyway? Or do I buy what I can afford, and suffer from music mediocracy by being forced to listen to the same 73 songs over and over again? Well honestly, I don't think most musicians like the sound of either of those as neither makes them any real money; and to be honest, as a music fan I don't like the sound of it either. We should find a compromise, something that makes both sides happy, and I think this can be done.

Connor Gleason
I'm currently a freshman at the University of Minnesota, and I also love music. From listening to it as much as I can to recording my own, music is my life. I've been playing guitar for eleven years and I still play every day. I'm a huge fan of classic rock artists such as Led Zeppelin, Guns N' Roses, Aerosmith, the Hold Steady and many more, as well as a number of artists from other genres, like Moby, Beck, OutKast, the Roots, and Wiz Khalifa. I also love finding and acquiring the entire discographies of the artists I like; as a result, I am faced with the ethical question: to buy or to illegally download?
There was a time in my life when all of the music I owned I either bought in a record store or downloaded off of iTunes. My music collection was relatively small. As I grew older and became increasingly interested in many artists, downloading their music off of websites and torrents proved to be the quickest, easiest, and cheapest way to listen to music. I was soon exposed to a vast array of songs and albums I had never heard before, and I liked what I heard. But I still must ask myself: is music piracy right?
Like Ian, I believe there is and will be a way to compromise. Listeners shouldn't be limited to what they are sold, but musicians shouldn't have to go bankrupt as a result. I think that in the near future there should be a way to download music for free and allow musical artists to gain revenue through other resources. This blog outlines why.

Rattana Sengsoulichanh
Hi my name is Rattana and I am a freshman at the University of Minnesota. I am currently enrolled in a debate class and our assignment is to determine if free music and music pirating should be legal and how it can be beneficial to the musicians who produce the music. We chose this topic because we are all music lovers which find it as a way of self-expression that should be accessible to everyone. I listen to a variety of genre of music such as hip hop, rnb, funk and rock, but I do not restrict myself to these genres. Many artists look for royalties for the music that they produce from direct sales of their songs, merchandise and concerts. In recent history, many people pirate music and then are sued for music pirating. This blog will feature how music pirating can benefit artists from free advertisements and will make the fans happy.

Achievements - The Scheme in Detail.

Getting Fans Their Music, and Musicians Their Cash

Time = Money
      So is it possible to give fans their music, without making them pay.... while giving musicians their rightly earned money?  We think so, however it would involve a major change in the marketing scheme, which we admit would take a long time to implement, but everything has to start somewhere.  So let's look back at our inspiration - Jesse Schell.  Although he spends a lot of time talking to facebook, eventually he starts to talk about addictive marketing schemes.  Right around the 9:00 mark, he starts talking about Mafia Wars, a game on facebook, where it is initially free, but to be part of the 'elite' or to be better than your friends, you need to pay money!  Like Schell says "Anything you spend time on, you start to believe, 'This must be worthwhile. Why? Because I've spent time on it, and therefore it must be worth me kicking in 20 bucks.'"  Which goes along with the old adage "Time = Money".  And this is seen all over the place now, in facebook games like Mafia Wars and FarmVille, MMO games like Everquest 2 and Warhammer Online, to all sorts of trial memberships to certain websites like eHarmony.

So Why Don't People Consider Music Worth Their Money?
     Now you would probably be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't consider listening to music they like worth their time.  So if people find their music worth their time, shouldn't it be worth their money?  Well the problem with this logic is that people don't know if a song is truly worth their time and money till after they have listened to it probably 5-7 times.  So because someone doesn't know if a song is worth their time, they download it, that way they can trash it if they don't like it without feeling like they wasted money.  But most people wont go back and legally pay for a song they like after they have the downloaded version, because they already feel entitlement.  So we need to find a way to promote music-goers to still want to buy stuff from musicians, but that may only come as a success if musicians give their songs away, and market things people can't pirate off the internet.  But how and why would they do that?

Tracking Downloads and Free Advertising
     So there are two parts to these 'addictive marketing schemes' that Schell talks about.  The first is making the consumer get to know the product, and find out if it is worth their time.  So how do musicians do that?  Well if musicians gave out their songs for free, it would serve as free advertising.  This way, people can download multiple songs from an artist, and find out if they truly like said artist or not, and if listening to them is worth their time.  This will also increase how quickly a song would spread; I wouldn't share a song with a friend until Ive listened to it a few times, and I can't do that unless I have the song myself, assuming I am not listening to a friend iPod.  But we also want musicians to benefit from this, so how could they?  What if musicians could track where their songs are downloaded?  Not like in a big brother sense, but like a national survey.  Well this would be cool for the musicians,  but if people continue to pirate, songs are commonly misnamed, so artists would not be able to track their demographics as much - iTunes is already able to discern between stolen and bought songs, so if artists didn't give their songs away, they probably wouldn't track the illegal ones (source).  While artists could still track their demographics through iTunes... the amount of people that DON'T buy from iTunes greatly outweighs the people that DO; at 200,000,000 (2005) estimated users its safe to say more people pirate, considering a lot of those registered users pirate (source), so iTunes will never be able to accurately display the popularity of musicians within specific regions.  This is why musicians should give their songs away as a lead in, to show people that their music is worth the listeners time.
Turquoise is where people listen to Bob Dylin, and Pink is where they listen to Britney Spears tribute bands.

Now for the Addictive Money Maker
     The second part Schell talks about, is once a person has spent enough time on something, they will consider it worth their money.  So now if musicians are giving their music away as a lead in, what is the pull?  Well right around the 20:00 mark, Schell talks about being watched and rewarded for everything you do.  While this might be a bit futuristic and 1984-ish, he may have a valid point, and this marketing scheme could work for musicians too!  Reward fans for buying merchandise and going to concerts of the bands they love, the bands they have downloaded from, and listened to enough to consider themselves fans of.  Create a "Music Fan App" on the iPhone/iTouch/iPad.  Someone considers themselves a fan of RHCP, they download a song and get 5 points on the "RHCP Fan" page of the "Music Fan App".  Now that they are a virtual fan of RHCP, they see they can get a lot more points and prove their fandom by buying a RHCP cap - 20 points - the code to get the points is marked on the cap.  And now they can see who of their friends is a RHCP fan too... but they see one of their friends is a more 'achieved fan' and they want to show their friend otherwise.  So they go to a concert and on the ticket is a code for 100 fan points!  Don't think thats enough to pull people into buying merchandise?  Give them coupons, people love coupons!  After they have earned x amount of points they get a small coupon off of certain merchandise... after they get x more, they get bigger discounts, after x more they get a free large pop at the musicians next concert.  People love getting coupons/free stuff, and if Xbox360 has showed us anything, people love little icons of meaningless points that show what they have 'accomplished' - There is an entire account on Youtube devoted to unlocking achievements, and its very popular!  We think both of these could be implemented into a musicians marketing scheme and both sides would benefit.

Musician benefits:
-Free knowledge of demographic
-Wider/quicker spread of popularity
-Not being stolen from
-Not having to deal with record companies
-Free advertising
-With knowledge of demographic, comes good places to put physical advertising, and increase of merchandise.

Fan Benefits:
-Free music
-You aren't stealing from artists
-You wont be sued
-Artist will start to put out more merchandise - giving you a wider variety to buy
-Maybe a greater chance for an artist to perform in your area
-Achievements to prove how big of a fan you are

Other possible benefits:
-With the fall of illegal downloading, people may become less accustomed to getting stuff for free, which will lower their contact with pirate sites such as Piratebay.org, which will lessen the public's knowledge of downloading movies/games/software, therefore helping more company based medias like movies and software companies.

Music Industry Grows Despite Music Piracy

Can the music industry prosper despite the continuation of music piracy? I think so. In a recent article in The New York Times, the author claims an increase in music sales online. As depicted in an earlier post by Ian, the medium in which music has been distributed has changed over time such as the production of 8-tracks, vinyl records, cassette tapes, cds, and mp3 players. As technology advances there are easier ways for fans to access their favorite artist's music. Record companies are always looking for ways to increase revenue in the means of the latest and greatest technology.

Now being an 18 years old, I am always looking out for products that will make life for me more convenient. A couple of years ago a discovered this music site Pandora. It was one of the coolest things I ever used. All I had to do was type in a song or an artist and the site would play music that was similar to the songs or artist I entered. What I am getting at is that everyday more products come out that makes the lives of their users easier. The artists know that their music appeals to their fans due to their purchasing of their products either legally or illegally, but the artists can use this to their benefit by compiling this important information to develop products that can profit them.

Sisaro, Ben. "Music Sales Fell in 2008, but Climbed on the Web." The New York Times. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Oct. 2010. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/01/arts/music/01indu.html?_r=1>.

Don't Fight Piracy, Use It!

Over the past couple years, I have seen several countries try to find ways to combat music piracy. In Britain they proposed that internet service providers (ISP) monitor their customer's usage and report any illegal downloading. Whoever downloads illegally will be issued a warning, and repeat offenders will have their internet usage cut off. In 2008, this plan was eventually rejected as they look to find methods that would not infringe on the user's rights and not harm the businesses of their ISP. If you try stopping one group of people you will eventually hurt everyone connected to them ie. internet service providers.

Like I said in my earlier post, there needs to be a new scheme that can utilize the illegal downloads. Instead of penalizing each and every new case of music piracy, they should cash in on their usage. These companies are already monitoring the usage of their customers. What needs to be done is using that data to their advantage. This data is the window into the minds of their users. They want music, which is easily accessible and appeals to their needs. Give the consumers what they want!

"Europe rejects anti-piracy plans." BBC News. N.p., 11 Apr. 2008. Web. 31 Oct. 2010. .

Taylor, Adam. "Europe Stumbling in Efforts to Battle Internet Piracy Read more: http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1904425,00.html#ixzz149jPCRB5." Time Magazine. N.p., 13 Jun. 2009. Web. 31 Oct. 2010. http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1904425,00.html>.

Can Free Music Lead to Rewards?

Picture yourself in the shoes of a new and up and coming artist looking to make a name for themselves. You will try to do anything that will help gain popularity from distributing free copies of their albums, merchandise with your name on it, and performing with big name artists. The music which you make will produce the money which will pay for your food and a place for you to live. After gaining a large celebrity status your music will spread across the country and then eventually around the world. Your albums and merchandise will be flying off the shelves.

Now what drove people to buy those products? Due to your starmdom, skills and ability, you have influenced them into buying your products. Then there is a percentage of that population that possesses your products, but did not legally purchase your products, leaving you cut off from the profits. Like several artists, you start to rally for anti-piracy by saying support your music by purchasing it legally, but they continue to pirate your music. Your so-called fans steal music from you, and you do not get paid for the music you rightfully produced. There must be a solution to all of this?

What I propose is building off of the idea of music pirating. Today it is so difficult to really suppress a growing trend such as music pirating. Instead of having anti piracy, the music producers and artists should come up with new marketing schemes through downloadable music. This can include releasing free play music such as for radio stations, but released to the public. Give the power to the people. Other schemes can be to create a reward system for the listeners. I know it may sound silly to reward the people that are stealing from you, but hear me out. You have an audience that is already listening to your music. If you create rewards that will keep them listening for long periods of time, you have eventually developed a system that keeps your fans wanting more and more.