Connecting with Fans and giving Reasons to Buy: how Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails are re-writing the rules of music marketing

the above is a great video from MIDEM – the world music marketing conference – that took place in Cannes (where else?) a few weeks ago.  in it, Michael Masnick discusses how musician Trent Reznor – for his band Nine Inch Nails – has been experimenting with a variety of
new and unique business models to reach
and connect with fans.  according to
Masnick, Reznor's secret is really quite simple:

CwF + RtB = $$$ … where:

CwF = Connecting with Fans

Reznor has used a range of techniques, including hiding secret urls in tour t-shirts (al la ARG), allowing interaction with the music, and ultimately giving a lot of his music away for free

RtB = Reason to Buy

tangible reasons to purchase a product above and beyond the music itself.  for example using CDs that change colour when they're played (a 'non-duplicable USP'), or developing added features which you only get when you purchase product rather than download for free.  Reznor has gone further by super-premiumising physical content (up to $300 a pop for an album) for which fans are happy to pay a super-premium rate

$$$ = lots of revenue generation

the approach certainly seems to work.  by super-premiumising limited editions of Nine Inch Nail's Ghosts I-IV album, he generated $750,000 in less than 30 hours.  the album was free to download, and yet it generated $1.6m of revenue

Masnick goes on to suggest a broader model for Reznor's approach:

Compete with Free + Return to Business = $$$

we could apply this model to a whole host of brands and products.  compete with free by giving your product away; to fans to generate WOM or to potential customers as a recruitment tool.  then return to business; developing ways to premiumise a brand or product, adding value – through marketing – which encourages purchase and revenue generation.  fewer people buying fewer things but at a vastly increased unit price could be no bad thing?

marketing is too often about selling.  it shouldn't be.  selling focusing on the needs of the seller, marketing should focus on the needs of the buyer…  marketing should be a natural extension of the product that adds value and desirability to products based on the wants and needs of the target audience.  how could brands you work on benefit from thinking that Connects with Consumers and develops Reasons to Buy?

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