I read an article on Billboard.com [awhile] ago which said that Coldplay is going to give away their live CD “leftrightleftrightleft” to all fans attending its Viva La Vida summer tour. Brilliant!
“Playing live is what we love,” says Coldplay. Exactly! It should be. Surely, a day doesn’t go by where you don’t hear about how you should be giving away free music, right? You should be. As I’ve mentioned before, music as a product doesn’t have much value anymore because it’s too common. It’s basic supply and demand.
Ok, so now, instead of hoping in earnest that somebody buys your tracks, you should be hoping that as many of them as possible download them for free. But does that mean you’ll make a penny off of your free downloads down the road? Well, it depends. Coldplay does. And they’re making lots of it. So why can’t you?
Well, you can. But first, there’s a simple concept your need to understand. Coldplay demonstrates it very well. It’s the concept of friction. The most important question any indie music artist-or anybody doing anything difficult-can address in the quest for success and profit is the following: Is there friction in what I’m doing?
Friction is basically that unique thing that you have or develop that makes it hard for other to compete against you. Coldplay can give away a ton of free stuff and still make a killing because a ton of people are going to pay for their concerts. People go to Coldplay shows because they’re a one of a kind. It’s like Google. They’re an industry leading company because they have a ton of friction.
Coldplay has a lot of friction because it’s awfully hard to be like them. There’s a high barrier of entry to being like Coldplay. But Coldplay didn’t become who they are just off of talent alone. I don’t know what personal circumstances or luck came into play to bring together the members that make up the band Coldplay, but you can bet that there were tens of thousands of tiny acts of dedication, persistence and just plain old hard work that gave Coldplay the tremendous friction that they have today.
But you don’t need to be superstars like Coldplay. There are different levels of success that can all be satisfying, depending on what you want.
There are people who say that Twitter is going to fail because it has a churn rate of 60%. In other words, 60% of people who try Twitter quit after one month. To me, that shows that Twitter is vibrant. Twitter is valuable because the 40% that sticks with it has surmounted the barrier to entry, which is constantly engaging other people on Twitter, which isn’t an easy thing to do. It’s so unlike MySpace where you don’t really have to do much work to be a part of it, but you also won’t really get noticed by anyone because there’s too many other people doing what you do. The “survivors” on Twitter, simply by persevering, have made it harder to be like them than the people who quit. They have friction and friction is value.
It’s the same thing with the indie music scene. If you don’t make it hard to be like you, if you don’t have any friction, then you’re just like everybody else. If you’re just like everybody else, then why should I care if you’re offering me free tracks? Are they worth my time to listen to? Are you worth paying attention to?
So how do you create friction? One step at a time. First, you have to decide what your goal is. What are you trying to achieve? Then you create your music brand around that. But it’s not just about your music. It’s about all your ideas too.
It’s not about being popular. It’s about being respected. It’s better to have a few thousand loyal fans than hundreds of thousands who aren’t.
Take your time to create high value stuff for hardcore followers. There’s lots of really crappy blogs on band websites out there. Why aren’t people spending more time crafting quality blogs? Your ideas are your brand today. Your stories are your identity. They’re powerful.
You create friction by striving for perfection. Then freemium will work.
Mika Schiller is a writer for the Indie music website MADE and he writes about where the music industry’s headed and how it relates to the Independent Music artist. He gives irreverent career and personal development advice to the Indie music artist. For more great writing and irresistible advice, along with a free report on effective MySpace music marketing, please visit http://www.letsgetmade.com.