I’m on a mailing list (several, actually) where musicians across the world discuss stuff. Today, there was a message from a band that spent the last week as the “featured artists” on MySpace. They got placement on the front page, alongside Madonna and the Roots, for a solid week.
One of the band members posted the numbers:
* number of times their music was played: around 20,000
* number of MySpace friend requests: 1200
* number of mailing list signups: over 100
* number of CDs sold: *ZERO*
Yep, a big whopping zero, null, nada, none. No CD sales! They’re still waiting on a report from iTunes, though. The band didn’t seem so much upset as curious — you’d think after 20K spins, _someone_ would pony up for a CD.
I don’t have any answers and I ain’t a market analyst, but I’m just _fascinated_ by this, and I suspect the clue is in the tagline — _MySpace: A Place For Friends._ a I’ve always considered the currency of MySpace to be the Friend Request, which is easily converted into Ego Boost but not much else. It’s such a low-risk, low-threshold action, too. You can never run out of Friend Requests; it’s like a money tree. I can’t believe the number of friends you have is any indication of whether they _really_ like your music or not. Besides, when you’re just one of a thousand friends, does it even matter anymore?
On the other hand, they got 100 mailing list signups without raising a finger. The band said most of the signups came from the same 1200 friends, so that’s just over 8%, which is awesome. So long as they don’t abuse their new subscribers with spam and stuff. (Do you have any idea how long it takes me to get 100 signups? Many, _many_ months.)
Anyway, it kind of hammers home the lessons I’ve been learning for the past two years, namely that most of the time, exposure is just exposure. It’s one thing to get in front of someone; it’s another thing to keep them interested, and another thing to get them to care. It also gives you an idea of the numbers game the Big Labels have to play in order to make the bucks they need to stay in business.
Now I kinda wish we could re-run the experiment. Are MySpace users just younger and without credit cards? What happens when you make the “Buy CD” links bigger? What happens when you include artwork? Change the colors? What if you offered $2 off just for MySpace members? What about a free t-shirt for the first 10 to buy? Eh, forget sales — how about a free CD to anyone who refers 10 more MySpace friends? You know, make ’em feel good for being a MySpace ninja…
…and it’s around this point that I realize: evil marketing-bot DNA has somehow seeped into my blackened soul, threatening to turn me into a switch-your-phone-service telemarketing lizard-boy, to be scorned by the world.
I will atone by listening to Led Zeppelin I-IV.