Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dear Musicians, You Deserve Better

You deserve to be able to make a living creating music. You deserve fairness and respect. You deserve to earn a fair share of the tremendous value you create for everyone. And when I say you, I don't mean just a few mega stars, I mean many serious musicians like you--the more the better.

The good news is that most if not all of your fans agree with me. They also think you deserve a fair share, fairness and respect, and the ability to make a living with your music. Your fans aren't the problem here.

The bad news is that the once-booming business model of selling music has proven to be a very tough business in the age of digital and free. Selling music just doesn't give you your fair share anymore. And it is getting worse every year.

There is a fundamental reason for that: music isn't "scarce" anymore. It is no longer constrained by the physical distribution of records, tapes, or CDs. Digital music is abundant. You can distribute it for free--everyone can. And if you don't, your greatest fans will. People love to share the things they love.

Well, you can try to force your fans to give you your fair share by seeking to maintain some kind of artificial scarcity (copy protection, copyright, lawsuits, scare tactics). Unfortunately, the odds are against you. Technically, artificial scarcity for digital goods is virtually impossible to maintain. Even worse, there is the catch 22: suddenly your fans might perceive you as the one being unfair.

We all learned as a child that sharing is a good thing. It is a core value of our culture. As Clay Shirky pointed out: “We have a word for not sharing if there’s no cost to you: that word is ‘spiteful.’” It is even one of the deadly sins. As a consequence, trying to stop people from sharing is futile. Changing the human nature of sharing is as difficult as fighting the waves of the ocean.

Let's try something different. To get you your fair share, surf the waves. Here is how: give fans what they want the most, and they will pay for it.

Artists: Sign up for Yokudo
That leads us to the question of what your fans really want. If you look at the most successful consumer products and services, there seems to be a common theme: people crave status, attention, and entertainment.

Gucci, Prada, Nike, Puma, Apple, Porsche, Tesla, American Express, Cartier--all of these brands make a lot of money by providing status and attention. Facebook game developers like Zynga do the same with social games like Farmville, and have successfully added entertainment into the mix. The market for attention is a huge opportunity since nearly every product we buy is meant to garner attention.

We truly live in an attention economy. Attention is the most valuable currency and the most precious product.

Music artists have made a lot of money selling attention as well. One obvious example is the concert business. At the same time music sales have faltered over the last ten years, concert revenues have grown substantially. While fans have spent less money for music, they have spent more for the (live) attention of the artists. However, this opportunity appears to have reached its limit, as a spike in the number of tours and ticket prices have collided with the down economy.

There is yet another example of musicians successful leveraging the attention economy: music sales before 2000. Fans were willing to spend a lot of disposable income for a new LP for the nice extras that came with it: status and attention. Being the first in a clique to have the Black Album and share it with friends just felt amazingly good. Your LPs defined who you were. Having them first made you special. Think High Fidelity.

Unfortunately for you, music--as soon as it is digital--comes without status and attention. You have a cool new song? Well, me too. Actually, everyone has it. It is on Youtube, Pandora, last.fm, Spotify and countless other legal and illegal sites. Owning music files simply doesn't have the same cachet.

This leads us to a great chance for artists: start selling status and attention again.

Give fans what they crave. Amazing music, yes, but also the identity and status that they get from being your fan. Whenever you successfully bundle something with status and attention, its value explodes. Diamonds are just a little bit of carbon when you subtract the status and attention that come bundled with them...

Yokudo has the solution to help you give your fans what they crave.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Beyond Selling Music

It can be hard to make a living as a musician, even when you have won a lot of fans on Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, and Twitter. But It shouldn't be, and the good news is that Yokudo is about to change that.

What if there were a solution that would generate a new revenue stream for you without hurting your existing ones? A new revenue stream that doesn't rely on music rights or ads?

And what if this revenue stream was completely piracy-safe and fair? No lawyers needed, and no reason to sue anyone.

Would you be interested?

What if the solution could also enable you to engage with your fans in a meaningful way, and take joint action for a cause in order to have a much bigger impact?

And what if your fans could turn into highly networked distributed street teams, promoting you with all their creativity and passion?

Now would you be interested?

We hope so, because Yokudo aims to provide a platform for you to do all that.

One more thing...you also might wonder how much money it would cost you to be a part of it. The answer is much less than expected--zero.

Yokudo is free for artists. Join now to be part of our exclusive beta launch.