We wrote an article for our blog detailing the NET revenues we get from the many different ways people can consume our music, including direct sales of Digital, CD, and Vinyl, indirect sales of the digital album on iTunes and eMusic and the streaming of the album on services like Spotify and Deezer.
We inserted a link to the article in an email that was sent to about 700 people on our mailing list the day we released our third album, One Frame Per Second. The purpose was to ensure that our fans were aware of how best to support us. That was just over a month ago.
A few hours later, we noticed that a few people we knew had picked up on the article and were mentioning it on Twitter. The next day, we observed that people we didn't know were tweeting about it. The feedback we were getting was that it was interesting information and that people really appreciated the transparency.
Some of the Tech Music press starting reposting the article and it all got rather out of hand with our name appearing on some high profile websites such as Gizmodo, TechDirt, HypeBot, Paste Magazine and DigitalMusicNews.
This resulted in our blog being visited more than 50,000 times. That's rather huge compared to what we normally see.
Since the article was published, we have received over 50 emails from new fans, bloggers, journalists, music tech companies and music industry professionals.
Some of them were from fans thanking us for our honesty. Others were from music tech companies trying to sell us their services! A few were from music industry professionals offering us advice or publishing and licensing deals. Others were from music industry professionals telling us how stupid we were for not selling enough records!
A few cheeky individuals asked us about how our 'high profile' had affected our sales, plays and website hits, so let's take a look at the numbers.
In one month, we went from 380 active users on our Facebook page to 620. (+63%). Our mailing list grew from 732 emails to 990 (+35%).
If we compare sales, plays and visits to our website in September to the 3 previous months, here's what we get.
Visits to our Bandcamp page increased 300%. Visits to our website increased 240%. Plays on our Bandcamp page (which we use as a player on our website as well) increased 310%. Album downloads increased 225% and direct sales increased 90%. More importantly though, the download to purchase ratio went from 10:1 to 5:1.
This means that for every 5 people who downloaded our album for free, 1 person purchased something.
iTunes sales skyrocketed. +2000%. (The sales in June, July and August were rather low to begin with though - see raw data)
Funnily enough, we don't have any data on Spotify plays to share for the moment! We have to wait until January 2012 before we can get that information.
(The raw data used to calculate the percentages above and some ugly looking graphs are at the bottom of the article if anyone wants to look at the finer details.)
We were blown away (and still are) by the support we were getting.
We received an email from a lawyer called Jennifer Newman Sharp who asked us if she could repost the article on her blog. Jennifer went on to explain her theory about why she thought our article had been so popular:
"As independent bands are increasingly being financially supported directly by their fans through digital sales, streaming and services like Kickstarter, it makes sense to have transparency in accounting and I know your fans must appreciate it. They want you to make money and be successful as much as you do, so you can keep delivering new content for them to enjoy."
I think it sums it up perfectly. Many music fans have no idea how much effort and and money go into making music and by being transparent about it, you give your fans the choice of actually make a knowledge-based decision, not a fantasy-based one. After reading some of the comments about the article we wrote, it became clear that some music fans think that musicians don't need their support because they drive around in expensive cars and eat caviar for breakfast, lunch and dinner! By disclosing the reality, you give them a tangible reason to financially support the artist and all the knowledge they need to make a conscious decision about how to provide that support.
Here are some excerpts from some of the messages we received that illustrate this.
"I dont even know what kind of music you do, but just for this article i'm going to buy two copies in vinyl. Wish all the bands were like you!"
"i did my research and i fell in love! Your web is awesome, and the video game is cool as hell! i'll add your first album to my order too. Totally worth the discovery! Congrats!!"
"I just wanted to mention I read the article about you today on Gizmodo.com and was very interested by what you had to say. I did not realize how squeezed artists are, by both digital and traditional media. It is a sad and unfortunate situation for all artists. Even though your music is not in the typical genre I listen too, I found it beautiful and serene, and decided to buy one of your vinyl copies. I hope this helps a little. Please put me on your email list so I can try to see you if and when you are in the States next time."
"Thought you'd might like to know how I found your site. It was through a link on brooksreview.net to your post about economics (good luck with the accounting grammy!). I found the post interesting, so clicked through to your music page (which I also enjoyed). Also, the information about your costs and how much you'd make influenced my decision about how much I would pay for the downloaded album. (I wanted it to be a bit above your average to help on your way to break even)."
As this is supposed to be a discussion, I won't try to make an conclusions but I would welcome comments, suggestions and especially for others to share their experiences as well.
And here's the juicy raw data that shows exactly how low are sales numbers are!