Content Marketing and Musicians: Giving Away Content and Growing Business

Posted By Joe Pulizzi on September 30, 2008

I had the pleasure of working at my brother's (Tony Pulizzi) gig a few months back at the Winchester in Lakewood, Ohio. It was the night Tony opened for Alan Holdsworth, one of the more prominent guitarists of the last 50 years (Musician Magazine voted Holdsworth one of the top 100 greatest guitarists of all time).

The Tony Pulizzi Trio has been growing in exposure by opening for bands like Holdsworth and Spyro Gyra. One reason is their use of content marketing.

A band makes money on a show through what they receive as a percentage of the gate or flat fee, in addition to what product they can sell at the event. In addition (and more importantly), it's essential to try to build relationships with those prospective fans that want to hear more from the band, including upcoming schedules, to grow future sales and spread word-of-mouth and referrals.

So, in addition to my job in selling Tony's product, we had an email sign-up list. The Results: by the end of the night, Tony had tripled any previous CD sales from prior events, and we managed to collect almost three times the number of email newsletter sign-ups.  Not bad ROI. 

Here's how he did it.

95% of the audience had never heard of the Tony Pulizzi Trio before.  The majority of fans were there to see Holdsworth.  The place was packed (standing room only). We were assigned one small table in the back to sell CDs.

After their opening song, Tony introduced the band and announced that he wanted everyone to go home with "a little taste" of the band.  So Tony made over 100 demo, three-song CDs of their latest work (which they played that night).  The demos were free to anyone that wanted them.  Before the end of the 45-minute set, Tony again announced that the free demos would be available in the back. The band also made themselves available for signing.

Here was how we made this work:

As soon as the band started to play and Tony announced the free demo, people started coming back to the table.  Lots of questions like, "are these guys local?" and "where are they playing next?". Every person received their free CD.  As I handed them out, I asked this simple question:

"If you like what you heard tonight, please sign the email sheet so we can keep you updated on their upcoming schedule."

Conversion rate was about 50%.  Not bad considering most people are wary about giving out their email address, especially at a club.

As I handed out the free demo, I had the opportunity to give them an overview of the products available.  There were three CDs, one rock oriented, one acoustic jazz, and one of the Trio's most recent Jazz/Rock/Funk music.

All in all, a hugely successful night in the Trio growing their fan base.

What can you, as a marketer, take from this message?

  1. Create content that is valuable and relevant to your audience.  Holdsworth's jazz-rock fan base would be open to the Trio's music since it was the same style/genre. The band was tight, and the music was exactly what they wanted to hear.
  2. Give away your content for free, no strings attached, but offer other opportunities to continue a dialogue with your customers. Fans could take the demos without signing up to the sheet, but most people, when given the offer, had no problem signing the sheet and actually seemed to want to. That means they wanted more and were willing to open a relationship with Tony. Could you give your content away for free, but offer premium content or opportunities to get their information?
  3. Surround your free content product with opportunities to drive revenue, without overtly selling. As we handed out the demos, the CDs were right in front of them. I never asked once if someone wanted to buy a CD.  As they became interested in the products, I simply described what it was.
  4. Position your product specifically to your customers' likes/needs through your communications. As prospects began to look at the CDs, I simply asked them if they were into more rock or more jazz/funk.  Once I received that answer, I could point them to the CD that made the most sense to them.
  5. Consider partnering with a non-competitive partner with a similar target base. The trio opening for Holdsworth and other prominent acts is essential for growth.  Can you find similar partners that will help you grow your business?
  6. Some customers want closer access to you and your product...give it to them.  Fans who bought CDs were excited about having members of the band sign them.  Tony had writer's cramp by the end of the night, but made happy fans and increased sales because of it. How can you make yourself more accessible to those customers that want it, without putting off ones that don't?

The basic content marketing process is alarmingly simple, yet extremely effective.  All businesses of any size can take these simple steps and use them to grow their business.  Don't get complicated.  Just create valuable, relevant and compelling content for your target audience, give it away for free, and give ample opportunities for them to get involved with you on a more personal, consistent level.

Comments (1)


January 11, 2012

Hey Guys, I was wondering if you guys have tried any of these free earning methods posted at Earn Free Online ? It seams to be quite a lot of information there. Regards

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