Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Marketing Music Downloads – Coldplay Gets It

Amid the babble of how music downloads are killing the recording industry, I offer a personal experience of how artists profit from appropriate marketing of download content.

A year ago, I had heard of Coldplay, and although I could recognize some of their hits, I could never identify them as the artists behind any of the hits. Then, in June, 2008, their “X & Y” album in MP3 format went on sale on Amazon. The reviews were good, not great, the samples sounded interesting enough, so I purchased it. After a couple of listens, I wasn’t all that impressed, so it dropped off my regular playlists.

Fast-forward to a couple of weeks ago, when Coldplay offered free MP3 downloads of their live album, “LeftRightLeftRightLeft.” No-brainer, I say, and downloaded it – as soon as the server was no longer pegged and unavailable. (Oopsie!). “LRLRL” was produced as a short “live best hits” album, which is marketing genius. There was no filler musical crap or lengthy banter between the group and the audience: just a tight set of good tunes. For a listener like myself, I could quickly capture the essence of Coldplay’s music and the energy created between the group and the audience.

Then – here’s the marketing genius – based on several cuts off the live album, I purchased another album, “Viva la Vida – Prospekt’s March Edition.” So, in the end, from a single free album download, Coldplay got me (1) to buy another album, (2) to start listening to the other album I purchased, and (3) to ponder whether I really like this group.

Regarding the last point, I do like some of their music, which will end up in several of my playlists. In the end, I probably won’t buy another Coldplay album. Just not my musical taste. If I want to hear riffs from the likes of U2, Genesis, Supertramp, The Beatles, Paul Simon, and young Joni Mitchell, I’ll just listen to the originals.

The mileage Coldplay will get out of “LRLRL” will go much farther than my measly contribution. Was it a coincidence that “LRLRL” was released during the initial leg of Coldplay ’s concert tour? Hardly. The energy level in “LRLRL” will entice many to consider concert tickets, and guess where most successful artists make their money? Right – on tour.

So, even though I’m not a new fan, they did escape with some of my money, so “Point – Coldplay!”

For some background reading, check out The Grand Unified Theory On The Economics Of Free. Pretty much sums it up as far as where music is heading, with or without the Recording Industry.