I’m a Serial B(r)and Advocate

Friday, 25 October 2013 § 0

Discovering new bands and then professing my love for them on social media is one of my favourite pastimes. This is especially true if a band’s music is released for free, which seems biased. If I like a band’s music, I like their music. So why is it that the majority of the tracks I share on my social media trifecta (Facebook, Twitter, and sometimes Instagram) are free? There are two sides to this: The Penny Gap and Ownership.

Nothing highlights The Penny Gap – the psychological abyss that lies between a (digital) good that is free and one that costs a penny – better than free tunes. The Penny Gap is essentially that internal struggle you get when you’re deciding whether you want to spend your last iTunes dollar on that new Foals track or if you should just wait until your deluxe vinyl box set comes in two months . This decision-making process of evaluating and considering is probably best known as the conversion funnel (but I like “internal struggle” better).

The best way for a new band to grow their audience is to release free singles. Why? Because freemium models eliminate the internal struggle by saying, “Hey, don’t worry about it Steph, just take it and enjoy!” Within minutes of discovering the band, their song is already on my phone and ready for me to listen to while aggressively shoulder-dancing on the bus.

A closer look at all the tracks I’ve shared have a common thread: the band occupies space on my hard drive. Whether it’s an older album, photos from a show, or a free download, I’ve either invested in the band by paying for ownership of their tracks or a ticket to their show, or the band has given me permission to own their track for free.

So what does this mean for everyone else? Getting over The Penny Gap by simply bypassing it is key for new bands and brands. If you’re asking consumers to pay for your good when they barely know who you are, you’re asking them to take a giant leap, even if you’re only asking for a penny. The difference between a penny and no penny is the associated risk and opportunity cost of that penny. Bypassing that risk and Nightcrawling consumers to the other side means they’ve got nothing to lose in sampling your product. And if fans and consumers are anything like me, their relationships with b(r)ands can shift from complete stranger to friend to brand advocate within the first 30 seconds of the song. 

And just for good measure, here are some free tunes for you to aggressively shoulder-dance to on the bus:

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