This presentation by TechDirt founder Michael Masnick, featuring 280 Power Point slides in just 15 minutes, hypothesizes why Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails has been so successful. The formula he derives is simple:
Connect With Fans (CwF) + Reason To Buy (RtB) = The Business Model ($$$$)
Masnick explains his choice to study Reznor:
There are many artists — famous and not so famous — who have been making use (on purpose, or not) of this formula to create successful strategies for building up a stronger fan base, creating wonderful new works of art, distributing them out to the community and getting paid for it at the same time. What made Reznor so interesting as a case study was the fact that he’s done it so many times in so many different ways that he, by himself, represents a great example of how you can approach this simple formula in an infinite variety of creative ways.
One of the issues I’ve had in discussing recording industry business models is that we always hear excuses for why a, b or c won’t work. “Well, that guy can make money selling t-shirts, but this guy’s fans aren’t t-shirt types.” “That guy will sell concert tickets, but this guy doesn’t like to perform.” “Maybe some fans will pay upfront, but people are so greedy that most will just free-ride.” It’s all excuses. They all want a simple model that everyone can follow, but the point here is that while the model itself is simple, executing on any business model is difficult.
It’s about applying that “simple model” in a variety of different creative ways — which Reznor has done time and time and time again. Hell, I couldn’t even include all of the examples of Reznor’s successes in this single presentation, let alone successes by other musicians who have executed differently — but all of whom connected with fans (CwF) and then gave them a real reason to buy (RtB).
This formula is not genre specific. It works just as well for musicians performing jazz, classical, folk, or any other type of music. Are you following the magical recipe in your own work?
By the way, the first couple minutes of the video address basic housekeeping items, and are probably not worth your while. Start at 1:55 for the good stuff.