Hearing a buzz around an artist and searching for MP3s on P2P services, having a band ask to be your friend on MySpace, and now a new service called Podbop (see the TechCrunch review here) that aggregates MP3s of bands playing in your area soon, and includes them as a podcast feed all have something in common. I would like to call this audition marketing of music. Auditioning, just like in the old music business model when a band auditioned for a label to be signed to or for a venue in which to play. This time, it is directly to a prospective fan.
An artist is auditioning themselves to me to be included as a fan. How do they do this? Well I have to hear them, and they need to make is so dead f-ing easy for me to discover their music. And it better be relevant to my taste. Either I tell a system my taste and I get instant results, or I leave a note somewhere on a system and then someone discovers my taste and auditions to me.
Going all the way back to the old Napster days, all the music fans knew that this new method to discover new music (via search) or in an even easer was was the preferred method, and you could never go back. You could hear about an artists, and without buying the CD, listen to it to find out if you like it. If you did, you might buy the music and go to the shows. The big record companies could not be bothered with this disruption, so it went ignored at first.
DRM prohibits discovery of new music in the audition method. It is as if the commercial terrestrial FM radio is as much of a commercial for the music they play as it is for the commercial for whatever the stations’ ad customer are trying to sell, and we are tuning them out just the same because they lack relevance to us in the Long Tail sense.
If you list a band that you like on your MySpace profile, other bands that identify with that band will send you a friend request, and ultimately they want you to hear their music. They are auditioning for my attention. This is not spam, it relevant and contextual. And the longer the Long Tail gets, the higher the chance of relevancy, the better the experience for the artist and the fan.
What relevance are weekly music newspapers now that Podbop has launched? Really, you can read about music all you want, but where does that get you? We all know that you really have to hear it. Podbop aggregates and delivers MP3s of bands playing in your area to you as a podcast, and then you can listen on your iPod in your spare time. Once again, the audition music model in action. I can now judge a band by the way they sounds and the way the music makes me feel, and I can do it with such ease. This is easer than P2p, and it is sponsored by the labels. I no longer have to judge a band by the name alone if I have not heard them, which I often do if a name and description is all I ever see. The music is relevant because it is bands that will play locally. What is the ROI for the band? I go to the show if I like them enough. We all know that recorded music is free, and an artist has to make their money by playing live shows. And it is such a better experience for the fans and the artists if only dedicated fans (even new ones that just discovered the band via Podbop) come to the shows. If I don’t like them I wouldn’t have bothered with them anyway, so it is not as if a sale was lost. The conversion rate is well worth it; the cost of auditioning to converting someone to a fan (aka pitching to selling). Per individual audition, there is no heavy effort on either side.
I would imagine that Podbop has thought about creating a filter for the feeds they provide once the site has gained critical mass, such as only downloading one track per artist, or filtering out music styles I do not like, or only including specify styles. This is will provide an even more increased relevance, better user experience, and higher efficiency. If music is to flow like water, Podbop is a pretty good pipe. Help contribute to the Podbop artist, label, and event database.
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