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How Much Is Your Music Worth?: Part 1 – Depends On The Listener…

How much is your music worth?

I didn’t ask how much you think it should be worth or how much you want it to be worth.  How much is your music actually worth?

Truth is, there isn’t a clear cut answer to this question.  Your music is worth different things to different people.  Someone who’s never heard of you might download a song or mixtape for free, but I doubt they’d pay $9.99 for an album. On the other hand, a hardcore fan might pay $25.00/year for an all-access pass to your exclusive online fan club in addition to paying for a $14.99 autographed copy of your album and a $10.00 concert ticket.  Different levels of listeners/fans value your music at different levels.

You might not know exactly how much your music is worth to each individual you come across, but you have a lot of advantages that will help you create value to different levels of listeners. In doing so, think of three levels of listener (Tommy Boy’s Tom Silverman came up with the concept of the Fan Relationship Pyramid, but you have to go to the New Music Seminar to get that info.  It’s geared more towards managing your creativity flow to different levels of fans. This is a loose adaptation based on using the resources you have available to create value and relationships with your listeners.):

The Person Who’s Never Heard of You -  This person is the least likely to pay for anything you offer.  They don’t want to buy your CD/digital album for $10.  Maybe they’ll buy a single for $0.99 cents, but the best strategy would be to give them something for free like a download of your latest mixtape or buzz single.  The key is to introduce yourself and build trust with them.  If they don’t like your music, you haven’t really lost anything (it didn’t cost you anything extra to upload the single to zshare) and at most they’ve lost 3:30 of their time for listening.  If they like what they hear, they just might be compelled to go to your website and view your YouTube videos, maybe even buy a single or the album.  You don’t want the sale at this point, you just want their attention.

The Casual Fan – This person checks up on you on a periodic basis. You’ve built some trust with them, so they value your music enough to support you.  They’ll probably buy the album and they might even get a ticket to your show when you come into town. At this point, your goal is to continue to build trust with them and make sure you provide more value to their experience.  Give them a free EP of remixes or a 10% discount on concert tickets for joining your email list.  Show them that you appreciate their attention and that you will go above and beyond to make sure they have the best experience when listening to your music or attending a show. Your goal is to convert them into the Hardcore Fan.

The Hardcore Fan – The Hardcore Fan buys everything your put out.  Album, apparel, fan club membership, concert tickets…they’ve got them all.  At this point, your responsibility as the artist is to make sure their experience exceeds their expectations.  Give members of your paid fan club early access and discounts to tickets, exclusive merchandise offers, and access to meet-and-greets.  Doing so will make them your ambassadors.  They’ll tell everyone how great of an artist and person you are.

You NEED your Hardcore Fan to become your ambassador.  Your music and the experience you provide to them can be worth so much at this point that you can leverage it to get more fans (and in turn, more revenue).  For example, I love the way PJ Morton leverages the value his fans place on his music.  He’s recently been having meet-and-greets across the country, organized by his fans living in the area he visits.  Every Hardcore Fan has a Person Who’s Never Heard of You. PJ’s Hardcore fans are telling their non-fan friends to come out and have a good time with a great artist.  I’m sure some of these non-fans leave these events with a casual fan’s curiosity.

Keep this kind of stuff in mind when you’re selling music or tickets to your next show. Put yourself in the potential consumer’s shoes. How much do they know you? Do they deserve to get a sample before they buy the whole album?  Or have they heard everything you’ve put out, fallen in love with your work, and now want an all-access experience.  Answering questions like that can make sure both you and the listener are getting the most out of your experiences and prevent you from under- or over-pricing your music.

Check back tomorrow for tips on connecting with The Person Who’s Never Heard of You.

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