Jono Diener from The Swellers has written some of the best blogs for our Contributor series on PropertyOfZack, and we’re glad to have him back. In his new blog, Jono opens up by discussing “The Recession” and leads into talking about how bands have shifted their ways in terms of selling merch and “giving back to the people who make you exist.” The band will also be heading out on tour with You Me At Six, so check out the dates here. Read up on Jono’s full blog below!
I bet you’re really tired of people using “The Recession” as an excuse for literally everything these days. You want to buy a house? Sorry man, you know, the recession. Want to go to the show? It’s only thirty miles away! Nah man, recession! Yeah, it’s annoying as all hell. How will people make money again? Tying this into what I do, being in a touring band, how do WE make a stable income? It’s really frustrating, though it seems more people complain rather than be proactive about the situation. Let’s say I have a new album coming out, a new tour and a new merch line… how do I get it to sell? Well, this recession should have taught you the perfect lesson by now. People spend money on things they want, and things they can afford. So what do YOU do? You give the people what they want.
I was watching the Pearl Jam documentary on Netflix (my endless source of knowledge) and it really opened my eyes to some amazing things. Sure, I didn’t grow up with their music, but I knew they took a lot of strong stances in the industry that blew them up to the band they are now. They were infuriated that Ticketmaster had the monopoly of all concert ticket sales, and had incredibly high prices along with fees. To go to one of their shows, or ANY show at these bigger venues, you HAD TO go through them. They took the ballsy stance of taking Ticketmaster to court. They believed in having affordable tickets SO much that they took legal action on the issue to help their fans, and boy did that help. Tickets were cheaper, and the money was going to the right places. People knew their favorite band had their backs. Not only that, but these individual people were going to FIVE TO TEN SHOWS for every Pearl Jam tour because the band changed their set list EVERY NIGHT. It’s always something different so people were OK with spending the money to see them over and over again. The fans got what they wanted, and they paid for everything because they loved it.
Outside of the music world there’s a great and inspirational comedian named Louis CK. Is he inspirational because most of his jokes are about being a divorced father who masturbates to kill the time because he’s so desperate? Not quite. He’s a figurehead of the new model for selling your live show. He had the opportunity to sell his new stand up special to several huge channels and outlets that would have paid him millions, but obviously taken a huge cut of the share as well. Louis decided to self-fund the whole project and release it himself. When it was finished, he put the video on sale for only $5 on his website. There were no advertisements during it. No spam newsletter you had to sign up for to download the video. It was just the simple transaction of time’s past, the same as buying an orange at a grocery store. Enough people believed in this new medium that Louis CK’s comedy special made ONE MILLION DOLLARS in a single week. Keep in mind, this is money HE keeps. Being the great person that he is, after he paid off the expenses he gave a huge chunk to charity, a chunk to his staff and kept the rest for himself to, “make his stomach bigger”. You can read all of the info and buy the special at https://buy.louisck.net/
What really made me step back was the explanations of both parties ballsy moves. Despite the money making machines they were involved in, they took a step outside of the boundaries and did things themselves. Because of that, they made MORE money for themselves. Isn’t that a strange concept? You take control of what you’re doing, lower the price, make it appealing to your fans and you have the potential to be incredibly successful, more-so than compromising to the bigger entity and crossing your fingers for some results. Believe me, enough of us have done that.
It’s 2012. Maybe the world will end this year? I guess that’s more excuse to step out of your shell and take a gamble for once. Put money into something you believe in and KNOW your people will want. Try lowering prices of things and letting people know you made a conscious effort to do so. Because after all, we’re entertainers and merchants and it’s all for them. On our next tour we made tickets $10 and $12 at most, but we’re still getting good guarantees. We asked what our fans wanted for merch designs and styles of shirts and are ordering that (as much of it as we could that made sense). We also ask what songs people want before tours and when we hear enough of each song, we play it. A lot of people don’t believe we pay attention, but we do. We’re trying to make our music more accessible in different options we know people want to purchase rather than investing in dead mediums.
Maybe it’ll work? Who knows? Either way it’s worth a shot because keeping loyal fans for a lifetime is more important than making an extra $10 one time. I think that last sentence should be a good model for every business. Loyal fans stick with you, respect you, and from the business end they are a continuous source of income. Let’s see who steps out of their boundaries and sends shock waves through the music industry this year. It’s the time of giving back to the people who make you exist.
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