Stop Trying to Sell CDs and Start Building Relationships

Are you still selling content? So are newspapers? Both should be in the business of building relationships and social currency.

Are you still selling content? Jeff Jarvis author of the books “What would Google Do“, “Public Parts” and co-host of This Week in Google argued that the New York Times is making a mistake by reducing the free pageviews by half. (TWiG episode 139 1h12m point) That newspapers aren’t in the business of selling content anymore but should be in the business of building relationships.

So what does this have to do with the Music Industry? More than you might first think. They are very similar where that they both previously and still sell a physical product which has shifted to the digital medium. They are struggling to get people to pay for the content after their consumers were used to getting it for free (music industry didn’t do that one on purpose). Finally, the digital revolution has created inexpensive or free tools that in turn has reduced the barrier to entry for each industry. For music an example is Apple’s GarageBand and for the Newspapers it’s the internet blog cms like wordpress.

My take from the discussion and I agree with is that the New York Times is penalizing what could be their biggest advocates. The people who read the online paper more than ten pages a month, coming in via a social link still wouldn’t count against your page count. Jarvis in his suggested solution is a sort of social referral currency. So instead of reducing access you open it up not with forcing people to pay for cash subscriptions but with access for promotion. Since the only incentive is more access once a person accumulates more pages than they need it.

So what can an artist do to improve the social relationship and turn that in currency into actual real cash in hand while not ruining it. Here are a few of my suggestions:

  • Share every access of your creative and touring process. Not to give away your music but the actual steps you’re taking to make that new album, video or tour.
  • Identify your “super fans” and start engaging them a little more than you would casual fans to build that relationship. Tools to measure that are freely available online. (I’m looking into Commun.it, they’re in beta and there is a waiting list )
  • Throw a few surprises. Send a signed CD to them, a t-shirt, ticket to a show, priority meet and greet or what ever you can think of. Even a movie ticket or a book you love.


By doing these things you’ll build relationships with your fans that will go a long way beyond a hit single. Start with why, then how and they’ll know what it is.

About mdave

David has been using computers to create his visions since the early days of the Apple II. When the world wide web hit he dove in head first learning HTML and building his first websites. After spending a few years at a software services firm in Milwaukee he moved to Nashville and shortly after the Music Industry grabbed hold. He joined the Country Music Association as webmaster designing, building and managing the CMA Awards, CMA Music Festival and corporate websites for the 8 years. He started their social media reach-out and when he left the CMA could reach over 50,000 fans directly. David currently freelances by day, codes by night along with producing/hosting the Nashville Tech Feed a technology podcast. David was named by Billboard Magazine as one of the top 140 people in the Music Industry to follow on Twitter. , Facebook and Twitter