jueves, 18 de abril de 2013

Music, business models, strategy and gamification all in one interesting post

Picture from http://phishthoughts.com/2010/08/06/the-greek-mythology/

I found really interesting the post The Business of Phish from the always interesting blog priceonomics.com.

The post has so many lectures that if you are interested in the music industry, business models, strategy or even gamification you should not miss it.

Just for my reference I quote here a few passages that I found interesting and relevant:
Phish doesn’t make money by selling music. They make money by selling live music, and that, it turns out, is a more durable business model.
Phish is selling experiences
Before Phish achieved any success, they worked hard at their craft. At the peak of their success, they practiced just as hard, if not harder. Later, they would abandon these regular practice sessions, which could either be seen as a cause or a symptom of the problems that lead to the band’s breakup in 2004.
 This is a solid band, they know the craft.
These insanely loyal fans not only dragged their friends to shows, but also started taping the shows and passing out the tapes to friends. Rather than squelch this “piracy,” the band encouraged it. Not only did it provide great marketing that lead to larger show attendance, but it helped develop an obsessive fanbase that would later desire to collect everything about the Phish experience: rare tapes, concert experiences, official albums, and merchandise. 
Uses music recording as marketing tool
Phish’s live performances are built around an interaction between the band and the audience. That’s the product that Phish sells, the interplay between the band and audience. The audience is an integral part of the show.
As you listen to live recordings of Phish, you notice that for every note the band plays, the audience provides a response that guides the band. It’s the back and forth between the audience and the band that creates the live musical production.
If going to a U2 concert is like purchasing a mass produced print, a Phish show is like buying a unique painting. The band has never played the same set list twice and you never know when a ten minute song could morph into a thirty minute improvised jam.
Each live performance is unique. This is key!!!!!! and important to realize this is possible only because they are solid musicians.
Fans don’t merely go see Phish, they collect Phish experiences. They track the number of concerts they’ve gone to, which songs from the band’s catalogue they’ve heard, and which venues they still need to see Phish perform at. Due to the bands improvised and varied sets, Phish fans constantly collect new experiences. Popular shows like Gamehoist, Big Cypress, Clifford  Ball, and Salt Lake City 1998 have taken on near mythological proportions. 
Finally, it seems that Phish puts on a show. The band might be flying through an arena playing on a giant hot dog, playing an eight hour set till sunrise, or pretending that Tom Hanks is on stage with them. There is a whimsy and unpredictability to their shows. The drummer occasionally plays a vacuum cleaner on stage, and almost always wears a woman’s dress while performing (except when he performs naked). At any Phish show, something strange, amazing, or unique could happen. At any Phish show, something strange, amazing, or unique could happen. For the diehard fan, the fear of missing out on one of these shows drives them to try to attend every one. 
Picture from http://blog.phish.net/1316932565/msg-commemorative-tokens
Combining unique experiences with collecting them is a powerful engagement tool. Collecting is very game like and tight to humane nature, almost imposible to resist for many.
Perhaps more so than any major musical artist today, the Phish business model is derived from having hard core fans of its live music. When Madonna sells out arenas across the country, she’s selling tickets to her various fans that live everywhere. When Phish sells out arenas or festivals across the country, it’s because the same die-hard fans fly across the country to see the band. In the rare instances where fans don’t make the trek and the shows don’t sell out, the band punishes the no-shows by performing a particularly epic set. In a forum where ardent Phish fans compare how much money they had spent on going to see the band, the answers were in the tens of thousands of dollars. 
So while Phish undoubtedly has fewer fans than Madonna, the ticket revenue per fan is way higher because fans loyally attend multiple shows.
This is a genius touch. Once you are engaged with them you can't miss their concerts because you risk missing the epic one.

When file sharing and piracy ravaged the music industry, Phish was insulated because their primary business was selling access to live music, not recorded music. In fact, the band was able to take advantage of the trends of digital downloads and streaming. They bundled digital downloads of live performances with ticket sales so that everyone who attended a show could download its broadcast the next day. And those that can’t attend shows live can pay to stream the performance from Phish’s website. While technological advancements made it harder for some artists to profit from their work, if anything, it made it easier for Phish to do so.
And this is the result of combining all components mentioned above...

Now that you have read about them, make sure you liste to their music.

Don't forget to read the whole article at:
The Business of Phish

Take care
Javier Arias González