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Thread started 01/22/13 6:25am

Chiquetet

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What sales model offers a win/win scenario for Prince and his fans?

Ok, third time's the charm, right? wink

This subforum is still whisper quiet, but Prince has just launched his new website, so it seems like a good time to wake it up!

(btw, my unofficial survey regarding what fans want from an official Prince website is still open until Sunday - if you haven't filled it out yet, please consider doing so now)

I've thought more about some of the issues raised in the Spreecast (and I believe these are discussed more by Prince in his Billboard interview) and, like others, see some form of crowdfunding as potentially being an answer.

So here's a possible model - a slight variation and expansion of the existing crowdfunding model - that might provide a useful starting point (if only for discussion).

Prince Crowdfunding Campaign

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Prince puts up a sample of a tune, or a promo video of a new album (or film) so that we have an idea what we're pledging for.

He lists what he thinks the material is worth (to him, financially) as the price for us to meet (collectively).

The campaign remains active for 30 days.

If the target is not met in that time, the campaign ends and the material goes back into the vault.

If the target is met, the pledges effectively become pre-orders, a release date is set, physical product (CD/Vinyl/merch) is created and everything gets sent out (with digital purchases unlocked on the release date).

In the latter case, all the products could then go into a conventional shop-front for people to purchase (at a slightly higher price) after the campaign.

Fan Level

~~~~~~

These would be individual (or limited number) purchases of digital downloads, CDs, vinyl, or packs including music and merch (if available).

Wholesale Level

~~~~~~~~~~

These would require a special login and would allow for bulk purchases of CDs and vinyl (if offered). This would be for record stores, department stores and any other approved businesses that were interested in reselling Prince's music.

Digital License Level

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This would be for the big boys of the online music world - iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, etc...

Here they could pledge to purchase an online license in order to stream/sell the music online.

(I realise this is probably one of the trickiest areas, so it may not work quite this way - but it's a start)

Physical License Level

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is where pre-approved media outlets (newspapers, magazines, etc...) and potentially other businesses could pledge for the rights to reproduce and distribute up to a set number of copies of the material for promotional purposes.

This one would presumably always be subject to approval on a case-by-case basis, but it would centralise the application process.

~~~

This way, many different elements of selling music can be streamlined into one place, which makes this idea of Prince getting paid up front more practical. As individual fans, I don't think we'll ever be able to pledge enough money to satisfy Prince that he's being paid enough for his work, but I understand his desire to shake things up and re-establish some balance within the industry (without having to go back to the old record label model).

With this model, everyone has incentive to pay for the music, because if not, that music may never be released. The businesses have an incentive to pay because if not, the music might get released and then they'll miss the boat.

Obviously, the elephant in the room with this one is around trust. People have felt betrayed by Prince before because of issues with past websites and some businesses have reported problems with payment as well, so this whole model requires faith in the idea that once you've made a pledge, be it for a digital music download or a license to distribute 500,000 copies, that your pledge will be honoured in a timely fashion.

Perhaps the only way to establish this trust is to start slowly, with a single. This reduces the scale of the campaign and offers a foundation from which to build.

Then, of course, follow through. Get the right people to help and do it properly.

Eventually this idea could be extended to include releases of past work, remasters, concert footage, anything from the vault. As successful campaigns finish, the products go into what would become a thriving shopfront (which could also have all past releases for sale).

Anyway, these are some of my thoughts. Very interested to see where this discussion goes and what direction Prince eventually goes in regarding selling and distribution of his work.

Any other ideas?

UNOFFICIAL Prince Website Survey - RESULTS - http://prince.org/msg/13/393074

New Prince fansite - http://tilthedawn.org/
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Reply #1 posted 01/22/13 12:29pm

dualboot

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When I posted my kickstarter suggestion this afternoon in the other topic I wasn't aware of the spreecast and this post.

Here a rerun...

so maybe prince.org can participate in a www.kickstarter.com fundraising by Prince and buy an album from his proposal.

That would be the sensation of the year and never been done on this scale.

The kickstarter is for us to fill and he receives the money. He opens a request for say $2.000.000 within a timeframe (30 days?). Everybody pitches in and receives something depending on the amount pitched.

($15 is digital album but $50 is cd/dvd, $100 is cd dvd written notes copy....$5000 is listening party included)...

He remains owner (ofcourse) and pays his expenses and takes his profit from this project.
I feel this is important because money and controle often seems to be the issue.

Kickstarter however has a drawback and that it is at own risk. Prince can get the amount and walk away with it. Personally I think the imago damage done will be much severe than the t-shirts (which at this day seem to be a costly mistake as you count the revenue in how many times people refer to it in a negative way).

If both parties are willing this could be a hype for an artist at his level.

Smaller kickstarters could be set up for releasing tours or dvd from the past.

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Reply #2 posted 01/22/13 3:09pm

RodeoSchro

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This is an excellent thread, and maybe should be in another forum for more views and responses.

It seems to me that if Prince is going to utilize the 'net to sell songs one at a time, the main issue is: How do I put myself in front of the most people that will buy as many of my songs as possible?

I think Prince should consider buying Prince.org. It seems like the vast majority of Prince fans that are online are online here. Therefore, rather than starting a new website, promoting it, and hoping to attract all the Orgers to it, it has to be cheaper to just buy the Org.

If Prince owned the Org, he could market his music here. He could expand it, promote it, whatever it takes to increase his base. But he's got the largest ready-made group of potential consumers right here.

The smart play would be to buy it and keep it free. Don't necessarily download the music here - just promote it here.

It's worth considering, IMO.

Second Funkiest White Man in America

Rocket Frog
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Reply #3 posted 01/23/13 1:37pm

dualboot

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RodeoSchro said:

This is an excellent thread, and maybe should be in another forum for more views and responses.

It seems to me that if Prince is going to utilize the 'net to sell songs one at a time, the main issue is: How do I put myself in front of the most people that will buy as many of my songs as possible?

I think Prince should consider buying Prince.org. It seems like the vast majority of Prince fans that are online are online here. Therefore, rather than starting a new website, promoting it, and hoping to attract all the Orgers to it, it has to be cheaper to just buy the Org.

If Prince owned the Org, he could market his music here. He could expand it, promote it, whatever it takes to increase his base. But he's got the largest ready-made group of potential consumers right here.

The smart play would be to buy it and keep it free. Don't necessarily download the music here - just promote it here.

It's worth considering, IMO.

I'm not sure if buying prince.org would be a wise move. Prince hasn't the best trackrecord in avoiding censorship and fans here need some space to vent out their issues (next to all happiness smile ).

Remember the forum option in npgmc.

I think it will backfire for Prince. Even if he is right to end a discussion it will look bad.

I would consider a partnership in which Prince gets his 'marketplace' in one corner of the site were he can plug his records and other musings. Only to accomodate him as artist which we celebrate (most of the time)

[Edited 1/23/13 13:38pm]

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Reply #4 posted 01/26/13 6:43am

PurpleJedi

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dualboot said:

RodeoSchro said:

This is an excellent thread, and maybe should be in another forum for more views and responses.

It seems to me that if Prince is going to utilize the 'net to sell songs one at a time, the main issue is: How do I put myself in front of the most people that will buy as many of my songs as possible?

I think Prince should consider buying Prince.org. It seems like the vast majority of Prince fans that are online are online here. Therefore, rather than starting a new website, promoting it, and hoping to attract all the Orgers to it, it has to be cheaper to just buy the Org.

If Prince owned the Org, he could market his music here. He could expand it, promote it, whatever it takes to increase his base. But he's got the largest ready-made group of potential consumers right here.

The smart play would be to buy it and keep it free. Don't necessarily download the music here - just promote it here.

It's worth considering, IMO.

I'm not sure if buying prince.org would be a wise move. Prince hasn't the best trackrecord in avoiding censorship and fans here need some space to vent out their issues (next to all happiness smile ).

Remember the forum option in npgmc.

I think it will backfire for Prince. Even if he is right to end a discussion it will look bad.

I would consider a partnership in which Prince gets his 'marketplace' in one corner of the site were he can plug his records and other musings. Only to accomodate him as artist which we celebrate (most of the time)

[Edited 1/23/13 13:38pm]

yeahthat

I ventured onto the forums in NPGMC.com a few times...I couldn't stomach the brown-nosing. No criticism whatsoever...it was all unabashed glorification.

I much rather be here, where people aren't afraid to post their honest opinions...about EVERYTHING.

By St. Boogar and all the saints at the backside door of Purgatory!
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Reply #5 posted 01/26/13 3:06pm

Adria

I thought things like kickstarter or whatever were for struggling artists that can't afford to produce whatever it is they want to do. I'm sure Prince can afford to create a regular website that sells his merchandise like any other superstar. He's just being difficult and refusing to do it. I would never in a million years pledge money to Prince to release something.

Him coming straight out and asking what fans would pay for stuff is just his way of doing marketing research himself, which he shouldn't do.

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Reply #6 posted 01/27/13 4:09am

Chiquetet

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RodeoSchro said:

I think Prince should consider buying Prince.org. It seems like the vast majority of Prince fans that are online are online here. Therefore, rather than starting a new website, promoting it, and hoping to attract all the Orgers to it, it has to be cheaper to just buy the Org.

If Prince owned the Org, he could market his music here. He could expand it, promote it, whatever it takes to increase his base. But he's got the largest ready-made group of potential consumers right here.

Valid points, for sure, as this is definitely his biggest ready-made online fan community, but I think there'd be a big push-back from a lot of people if that happened.

"Independent" has been a keyword on this site as long as I've known it, and presumably the events of a few years ago only strengthened that notion. A lot of people that chat on this site aren't even really interested in Prince anymore, but say they still come here because of the friends they've made.

I definitely think that Prince needs to "make friends" with his fanbase again and I'm hoping that his recent actions, like asking for feedback through the Spreecast, etc... are efforts in that direction. Maybe, once some fences have been mended, he could establish a better relationship with the Org and start to include them in news delivery, etc... in the same way as he does with Dr. Funkenberry.

Obviously it would need to go both ways, but unfortunately, rightly or wrongly, I think he's going to be the one that needs to offer the olive branch.

But as for buying it out and making it his own, I suspect the transition needed for this to become a commercial site would be too great. Making use of it for promotion - for sure. But I think he needs to start from scratch for his own site.

UNOFFICIAL Prince Website Survey - RESULTS - http://prince.org/msg/13/393074

New Prince fansite - http://tilthedawn.org/
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Reply #7 posted 01/27/13 4:25am

Chiquetet

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Adria said:

I thought things like kickstarter or whatever were for struggling artists that can't afford to produce whatever it is they want to do. I'm sure Prince can afford to create a regular website that sells his merchandise like any other superstar. He's just being difficult and refusing to do it.

I think that's how Kickstarter got started, but it has definitely expanded into new areas, and is now seen as simply a different way to do business.

An important thing to remember with Kickstarter, or any crowdfunding model, is that - provided the campaign owners are doing it properly - you are not donating money to them, you are simply buying products and services in advance.

Amanda Palmer is an excellent example of someone who funded an incredible tour through a Kickstarter campaign in which she raised over $1 million when her aim was $100,000. She could have gone through a record label, but she chose to cut out the "middle man" and use crowdfunding, which meant that she could keep the profits of her album, while building a stronger bond with her fans, who helped her do it and got some awesome rewards in the process.

In the survey, I asked about Prince using crowdfunding to help set up a website, which is what I thought he was looking to do in the beginning (and still might be).

But in this thread, I'm more talking about how Prince might release music going forward in a way that satisfies his own issues with bootlegging and the music industry in its current state, but which also works for his fans.

By using a crowdfunding model and putting up campaigns for music that only gets released if enough people pledge to buy it, he gets paid up front and doesn't have to worry about what happens to the music once it's released, and fans effectively get to pre-order the new music - getting what they would have paid for in a conventional model anyway, but with the satisfaction that they helped in getting that music released in the first place.

Maybe it wouldn't work or maybe there are loads of issues I haven't thought of, but I do think that the idea has merit and is worth exploring.

As for the argument that Prince is just greedy and focused on money, maybe that's true - we don't really know him as a person - but it's worth considering the possibility that he is trying to find a model that would work for other artists, not just him. If he does find a way to get paid what his music is worth without needing to sign it away to a record label, then surely others who DO need the money could emulate the process and achieve financial success, whilst still having ownership of their music and independence with respect to their career.

[Edited 1/27/13 4:26am]

UNOFFICIAL Prince Website Survey - RESULTS - http://prince.org/msg/13/393074

New Prince fansite - http://tilthedawn.org/
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Reply #8 posted 01/27/13 5:02am

Adria

If he went that route, I just don't see it doing much for him. It would mainly be for hard core fans. There are two different fans for probably any artist. Serious collectors and hard core fans who would jump at the chance to go through Prince's vault. The other kind who really like Prince, would buy a new CD and go to a concert, but don't know a thing about his vault material.

Prince has a lot of fans that are over 40, and I know there are exceptions to everything, but the fans I know who are 40, 50 +, don't get into Prince as much as this 40 year old. They have never heard any outtake, don't do much on the internet, but still love music and live shows.

How can Prince deal with getting his music out and making money? Have one normal website. Make the songs available on iTunes and even Amazon. No more obscure websites and releasing things here and there all over the place.

Bootlegs are a part of the music business. Period. He is heavily bootlegged because he is/was so prolific. Obviously he didn't have a lock down on his material in the 80s as he has since the 90s or whatever.

Anyway...this is just one fan's opinion. Don't get me wrong, I think crowdfunding is great for some people. I've pledged to a couple of things. Heck, every CD I bought last year was a pre-order.

Oh, and I took your survey too! Nicely done!

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Reply #9 posted 01/28/13 3:27pm

databank

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For me it's quite simple: I want the music, old and new, as much as possible. I'm ready to pay for it as long as i can afford it, on a pay-per-song/payper-album/pay-per-video basis, or even to subscribe again to a pre-paid website under the condition that the content is guaranteed à la NPGMC (version 2001) as opposed to a "pay 77 bucks and get half a dozen exclusive songs on streaming only" à la lotusflow3r.

I'm open to other economical models, though, but y make it difficult when we can make it simple? ^^

Peace.

A COMPREHENSIVE PRINCE DISCOGRAPHY (work in progress ^^): https://sites.google.com/...iscog/home
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