How giving your stuff away for free can make you money

jazz by jenny downing
One Working Musician Explains How Pay What You Want Works For Him
[Via Techdirt]

We’re going to try something a bit new here at Techdirt. Usually, we post stories based on some news event or stories elsewhere, but since we talk so often about various business models, and often try to highlight business model experiments that work, I wanted to start a regular series of “case studies,” on content creators doing interesting things. Sometimes it will include success stories. Sometimes, perhaps, failure stories. Sometimes we won’t even know yet. But the goal is to call out examples of the interesting things that have been done, and to dig into them a bit, and hope that we can all learn from them and maybe see if others are inspired by them. We’re looking for content creators (not just musicians, by the way) who might be interested in sharing info with us as a part of this series, so if you are doing something interesting, or know of someone else who is, hit us up at the feedback link above.

The first one in this series of posts is about jazz musician Jason Parker, who also blogs at the site, where he details his various experiments with making a living as, yes, a working musician.

Back when Radiohead did their pay what you want offering a few years ago, one of the widespread critiques of the idea was that it would only work if you already had a huge following. We’ve seen, of course, that isn’t true. Last year, we wrote about a few experiments with bands trying pay what you want CDs at shows and having some success with it. This doesn’t mean, of course, that if you just toss up some music and say “pay what you want,” it will work. But if you really do cultivate a fanbase, and offer them a way to support you, it’s often quite amazing what they will do… and that’s exactly what Jason discovered.

It started with a “weekend experiment,” late last year, where Parker reduced the required price of the download of his albums, to $0 from $5, and tweeted to his followers that they could pay whatever they wanted for it. He had considered setting a minimum of $1, but decided to see what happened if he went totally free. And the results were quite impressive:

Sunday night at midnight I checked my stats and was amazed. The three Jason Parker Quartet CD’s, “No More, No Less”, “Live @ JazzTV”, and “The Jason Parker Quartet” had been downloaded 128 times! That’s more downloads than I’ve received in the last few months combined. Most days I was lucky if a track or two were downloaded, let alone full albums.

And what’s even more impressive to me is that many of the people who downloaded the CD’s actually paid for them, even though they didn’t have to! In fact, I made more money from sales this weekend than in any other three-day period since the days right after the release of our latest CD, “No More, No Less”. All while giving them away for free!

After the weekend, he raised the prices back up to $5… but after thinking through it some more, and seeing these and other results, he’s now permanently set the price at “pay what you want,” with $0 being a perfectly acceptable price. I asked Jason how it’s going, and he says that before, when he had the price at $5, he would sell maybe 3 per month. However, these days, with the price set at $0, he’s averaging 8 sales per week with an average price of $8.50. Yes, his sales have increased from one every ten days or so, to more than one per day, and the amount people pay has gone up. The CDs, by themselves, are obviously not a huge moneymaker, but still, the revenue has gone from about $15/month to around $300/month. By giving it away for free and letting people pay what they want. Not bad.


He did a couple of other experiments with pay what you want. at concerts he was selling more CDs for more money than when he priced them himself. A very novel but successful model.

People will support others in the community when given the opportunity, particularly if they feel you are providing something of value. In this case, by letting people decide for themselves how much his music is worth, he is making more sales at a higher average price than what he had previously been asking for. It is a digital ‘pass the hat’ exercise that can be highly leveraged because of the size of the Web. You may only be able to reach a handful in person but can reach hundreds online.

So, life may not be fair but sometimes it is just.

Another in a series “Life is not, never was and never will be, fair.”

Cop drives 126 MPH while texting, kills 2 teen girls, lies to cover it up, gets probation. Now he wants workman’s compensation for his injuries.
[Via what’s new online!]


Life is not fair but does it have to rub our noses in it?

The article starts with this:

Former Illinois State trooper Matt Mitchell is asking the state to compensate him for injuries from a crash in which he hit and killed two Collinsville sisters at triple-digit speeds. Mitchell filed a worker’s compensation case on Sept. 13 against the Illinois State Police. The case is pending.

He pled guilty to reckless homicide and reckless driving and got 30 months probation. Here is what happened:

Mitchell was driving 126 mph in busy day-after-Thanksgiving traffic on Interstate 64 near O’Fallon while sending and receiving e-mails and talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone moments before the crash.

He crossed over the median and hit the girl’s car head on. And he may get hundreds of thousands of dollars of tax-free money.

I hope the family sues him and actually gets some compensation, small though it can be compared to the death of their two daughters.

Not too surprisingly, the paper had to close the comments sections:

Comments have been removed from this story due to the nature of the content and because of numerous inappropriate comments by readers on previous editions of the stories.

I’ll bet there were some inappropriate comments. But there were certainly some comments on reddit. It is another example of why revenge fantasies are such a common staple of our stories, ranging from Dexter to Boondock Saints, from Death Wish to The Brave One.

Life may not be fair but our stories can sure be.

Posted in General. Tags: . 2 Comments »

Apple demonstrates that profits ARE king

apple by London looks

In 1H 2010, Apple took 39% of the industry’s profit, more than 3 largest handset makers combined
[Via MacDailyNews]

Canaccord Genuity initiated coverage of Apple (AAPL) Tuesday…


Apple has only 4% of the total market for mobile phones yet owns 39% of the total profit. The three largest handset makers – Nokia, Samsung and LG – only have 32% of the profit yet sell 25 times the number of phones.

This is why Apple does not really care about market share. They are not selling commodities like the others. And as long as that is only what the others sell, they will not make the profits.

Posted in Economy, Technology. Tags: , . Comments Off

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