“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” ― William Morris

First to Market, or First to Rate?

Posted: January 29th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Internet Marketing | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

In the world of business the success of your idea depends hugely on word of mouth and feedback, especially with the Internet. The same is true of music, with new bands scrabbling to get any bandwidth with already saturated music lovers. In such a situation we often rely on music taste makers that we know and trust to point us towards new music we might like. This was a subject that Malcolm Gladwell discussed in his excellent book ‘The Tipping Point‘, where he described such people or groups as ‘super influencers’ who have an effect on many people’s opinions and can even make or break new products.

Well it seems not everyone believes Gladwell’s view of how information is dispersed. In a recent article Fast Company talks with Duncan Watts, a Network Theorist, on his own views of how information travels. He feels that information sharing in tightly grouped areas such as music depends much more on who gets the first attention, rather than who is referenced by the most connected people. This was found in an experiment where he set up new songs on a music sharing site, and then asked different groups to rate the music – but some of the groups had a social aspect, and others didn’t. What transpired was that the top rated list of songs was totally different for each group, there was no shared ‘best song’. The result for the ‘social’ world seemed to be driven more by who got the first votes, not who was actually best.

This result has some intuitive merit. In today’s social information networks, information that is tagged most rises to the top of display lists such as ‘Recent Top 10’ or similar. Other people then see these lists and give their own opinions on this music, perhaps biased by its position in the list, instead of going round all available music and seeing what they like. In this case the influencer is the social group en masse, rather than a single super influencer. Either way it seems that getting out there first with your product into a new area is critical, although as Watts says – “In general, the ‘best’ songs never do very badly, and the ‘worst’ songs never do extremely well, but almost any other result is possible&rdquo – so make sure your product is worthy of any attention is receives and you can’t go far wrong. Or if it’s not great, then make sure you can get feedback from this failed attempt to make sure the next one is worthy.

[From Boing Boing]


Spare a Penny for a Poor Rock Band

Posted: November 7th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Internet Life, Internet Marketing | Tags: , , | No Comments »

The first set of ‘statistics’ have turned up from Radiohead’s innovative “choose your price” sale of their In Rainbows album. As you may recall, Radiohead decided to let their listeners choose a price to download the album – anywhere from nothing to £99.99 (+ 45p handling fee). Now comscore are claiming an indication of how much people have paid, but purely based on a survey they carried out.

Comscore reckon the average price paid was £2.90 – with US customers paying more than the rest of the world, averaging £3.85 compared with £2.22 elsewhere. Obviously this is a lot lower than the usual price of a CD, but consider how much of that money is now going direct to Radiohead and not a middleman… 100%. Plus one thing that Comscore doesn’t indicate is how many albums have been sold so far, only Radiohead and their partners know that for sure. Either way it seems that their experiment has been a success.

As an aside, In Rainbows is a wonderful album full of great songs – so go get your copy now, at a price that feels good to you.


10 Ways to Make a Book Popular

Posted: October 16th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Internet Marketing | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

The UK’s premier yearly book awards, the Man Booker prize, has just been won by the rank outsider Anne Enright, for her book ‘The Gathering’. The Booker prize has a habit of being un-predictable, and it certainly isn’t a popularity contest, but winning the prize is a boon to any novelist’s sales. To help the rest of us who haven’t won, the BBC offers a handy list of ten ways to make a book popular, ranging from word of mouth, TV shows like Richard & Judy or Oprah and three for two marketing offers.


Radiohead: Re-inventing Music Sales

Posted: October 9th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Internet Marketing | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

A week or so ago, Radiohead announced they were selling their new album ‘in Rainbows‘ online. Doesn’t sound like anything new, until you hear that they are asking you, the customer, to say how much you want to pay for the download. Sound too good to be true? Well it was for the website, which crashed under the volume of Radiohead fans wanting to get their hands on the latest effort.

The other day I pre-ordered the album, and today (or soon I hope) my download link will turn up, although I’d imagine the site is spreading out these emails to prevent another overload. The in Rainbows website is intense to look at, and minimal in terms of information and fields. Normal trust indicators (Verisign, PayPal and the like) are visibly absent. Instead, you get to choose between a ‘meat space’ box set at a fixed price of £40, or the download at whatever price you choose. Yes, really. You can say you want it free, or pay them up to £99.99 (plus 45 pence processing charge with credit card). One wonders why the super-rich Radiohead fans can’t pay them more than £100, but there we go – they’ll just have to order multiple downloads for their friends and family or offer to pay Radiohead to play at their birthday party or some such thing.

This is an another genius move from one of the world’s outstanding bands. Radiohead album releases have always been widely anticipated, and even without this ‘gimmick’ it would have flown off the shelves. But is it a gimmick? Radiohead recently completed their contract with their record company and now can do whatever they like with their music. So instead of doing what most other artists do, and negotiate bigger payouts for themselves, they’ve innovated in a way that only Radiohead can, in a way that I’m sure everyone in the record industry is watching with half fascination, half impending doom for their livelihood.

What would be really fascinating is to know the stats on what people paid. Surely some people have paid nothing, but I’m sure many have paid a considered, reasonable amount. In reality at a minimum you have to pay the processing fee of 45p, so they will be getting your credit card details at the very least. Also when you pay they ask for a lot of personal information, including mobile/cell phone, so there is an inherent value in that as well – which makes me wonder what deal the processing company is on. But is the distribution of prices exponentially towards 0p, tailing off towards £100? Or is it normally distributed around some value that is akin to current CD prices – baring in mind that in the UK a CD normally retails at £12+ whereas in the US it’s $12+ (or £6 at current exchange rate)? This is all fascinating, and I suspect we’ll never find out. Radiohead are innovative but are they that innovative as to give away the album, and the store?

And no, I’m not telling you how much I chose to pay – other than it was between 1p and £99.99…