Plaid Helps Make The Record Business Even Less Relevant.


Check out what Plaid did for the latest release Mantis for the band Umphrey's McGee. Basically, pre-orders of the CD include loads of bonus content. But not just a free extra track either. Alternate studio recordings. Never before released historic recordings. Remixes. Experiments. The Brand Spankin' New part?

The more fans that buy the release, the more bonus content Umphrey's will unleash.

Everyone who buys gets everything that's been unlocked on release day. The CD will also unlock additional material throughout 2009 whenever you play in your computer.

Yes, bands give away bonus tracks all the time now, going straight to the people like Ani DiFranco and 15 million other acts. Maybe they even give an entire CD away like Prince or Radiohead, but this takes things further by releasing stuff over time relative to the amount of involvement by fans. Thing is, people just want more 'free' these days. This does that.

Reminds me of David Bowie's first experiment with bowieNet and his attempts at building an online community before pretty much and other major act. You could also play his hit Fame as separate tracks for each instrument. Who knew John Lennon sang background vocals on the high part "Fame?" Now you do.

Yes, I know, so what. That was over 10 years ago. To which I say, so what, it's still Bowie, and he's still cooler than you or me and many bands out there, and he was definitely ahead of the curve on a lot of things like that. I bring it up as an example of how bands need to keep trying new stuff to stand out out.

(Because you need disclosures, yes Plaid and I do things together. No, not naughty things. Internet things. Like this and other stuff. Plaid: Not just Thought Leaders, but Thought
Doers, mister!)

by Bill Green    Nov- 6-08   Click to Comment   
Topic: Promotions   

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Glad you posted about this. This band does a good job of understanding their fans and giving them new things to get excited about that. The real problem here is the CD. No one wants them.

Posted by: Alex Williams on November 6, 2008 7:56 PM

Alex -

Soooo true. CDs are not a part of our future.

Artists and labels need to reinvent the business model, and identify a new revenue stream. A handful are doing that. CDs in their current manifestation have limited value at best. But for now, we're in a transition.

What excited us about the Umphrey's project was that they really get it. They understand that a traditional CD release has little value to their fans. So they improved the product. They invented a new, better, hybrid product. Buy the CD, and get a boatload of bonus content. Then use the CD as a key to unlock even more content throughout the year. Now that hunk of plastic has a purpose.

Even better - they created a SUPER deluxe version (which sold out in days) that includes an awesome box of goodies.

It's definitely working. Fans appreciate it, recognize the value and want to buy it not because it supports the artist - but because it's a product they desire.

I'm confident that UM will see their way through this industry transition from CD to digital products. And I'm confident that they'll continue to provide their fans content they love. Because they're paying attention. They're listening. They're participating. And they're winning.

Umphrey's totally gets it.

We built a cool feature into the site that gives fans a clue that a new level is about to be unlocked. The water level in the progress bar raises as it gets closer to the next stage. Only a handful of fans have noticed this so far, so it's kind of a true-fan secret. Thought you might appreciate.

Posted by: darryl ohrt on November 6, 2008 10:36 PM

Nice concept! Not 2 mention perfect 4 the band. It will interesting 2 see if this makes bigger waves in the corporate music landscape. Props 2 Plaid & Umphreys. Keep up the good stuff.

Posted by: greg christman on November 10, 2008 12:08 AM

I met some of the Plaid guys once. They came over with their little Plaid bus to an agency I worked at in Boston. Cool peeps. Didn't know you worked with them on internet things. You should go on the bus for a tour of the nation's billboards.

Posted by: Yianni Garcia on December 2, 2008 3:19 AM