The Most Important Post You'll Read This Week (CwF + RtB = The Business Model)

I've always been impressed with the good ideas that come from Mike Masnick and the Techdirt crew, and their latest initiative is no different. For quite some time now, Masnick has been repeating the mantra that if you are able to Connect with Fans of whatever you are making or selling, AND give them a Reason to Buy, you've got a business model.

The formula looks like this:

CwF + RtB = The Business Model

He's showed us examples of how it can work for a bunch of different industries, and now he's finally applied the model to Techdirt. By offering a number of unique packages, he's making it easy for anyone to give the blog money and get something in return. The most basic package puts a badge on the user's Techdirt profile, showing that they support the site. More sophisticated packages include signed copies of books or t-shirts. They all give the user a reason to pay money (getting something in return) as well as giving them a chance to connect with the Techdirt crew in another way (from a badge to advance views of posts).

While I'm sure that this will create a new revenue stream for Techdirt, I wonder how much it will actually bring in (compared to their other work), and how applicable this model is to other blogs.

Either way, it is a great experiment.

Check out the various packages, then read the post announcing the plan.

For the record, I bought the Approaching Infinity package for $35 USD, and am looking forward to getting my copy of Masnick's book and a Techdirt t-shirt. I also feel like it is a great way to support a blog that I love reading from and learn something new from almost every day.


The New Music Industry

The New Music Industry Part One: Little Boots As I've alluded to a few times here, I've been working on a music blog as a side project. One of the coolest things about it is that artists are constantly sending me tracks to listen to and post on the blog. They recognize the power of the internet and music blogs as promotional tools. These artists know that they are only worth as much as the number of people that listen to their music.

This wasn't always the case.

It used to be that an artists worth was measured in how many physical copies of the music they could sell. That is because in order to listen to and enjoy the music at home, you had to buy a physical copy of that music. Throughout the ages, this meant buying CDs, tapes, records and (way back in the day) actual sheet music. Record companies were necessary in order to professionally record, produce then distribute these physical copies of the music. It was an expensive process, and record labels took chance on artists by fronting the cost of all this work in exchange for part of the revenue that would eventually be

Part of the reason that people who would probably never shoplift a CD from their local record store "steal" music all the time by downloading it is because they don't feel like they've taken anything. They aren't holding an object in their hands, and someone else isn't physically out an object.

And that's because it hasn't been stolen. It has only been copied .

Music is no longer a scarce object, tied to physical objects. Like most of society's information, it has become an infinite good that can be copied endlessly for a negligible cost and with out any loss of quality (props to Mike Masnick and the Techdirt crew for drilling this concept into my head).

That's why I was so disapointed to read the comment that the artist Little Boots left on a music blog that had posted one of her songs after ripping it from her MySpace page:

hi, would really appreciate if you wouldn't rip tracks off my myspace. the whole point is to preview them on there for people a week at a time. thanks, little boots.

Yes, it was great of Little Boots to recognize the promotional value of letting her track stream freely on her MySpace page. However, what she doesn't recognize is the statement I made earlier: she is only worth as much as the number of people that listen to her music.

The New Music Industry Part Two: Selling Out So how does the number of people listening to an artist create value?

It does so by driving the demand for that artist up. The more people that listen to a particular artist, the more opportunities there are for that artists. By giving away music for free, artists are making it easier for people to become fans of their music. Rather than relying on fans for revenue, artists can look for corporate sponsorships and I have no problem with this.

Goldfrapp has given her music to Target.

Chris Brown even wrote a song for Wrigley gum, and its pretty catchy (below)

I'm not advocating that every artist write a jingle for a mega-corporation or (though the payday might be worth it). Rather, they should align themselves with brands that they care about. Or, like Gwen Stefani and her L.A.M.B line of clothing, and Kid Rock and his beer, create their own brands.

With this kind of solution, artists get to make money and have a large number of people listen to their music. Is this selling out? Maybe. But I think that it is also considered "being successful" and is something that artists strive for.

Everyone wins.


The Music Industry (sigh)

As an update to yesterday's post about why videogames are so important, I strongly advise you to check out this post on Techdirt. Apparently, the CEO of Activision has pointed out how much games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band have helped sales of bands and that perhaps the record companies should be paying the game companies to have their music included, rather than the other way around.

What do you think?

-Parker Mason