If there’s an equivalent in the music tech world to the Oprah Book Club Seal of Magnificence, it would have to be an endorsement from Trent Reznor. Woop:
“Bandcamp: This looks excellent to me. I have not used it but it appears to be great. This would cover your digital distribution of files and the collecting / amassing of your database.” link
But a little later in the post, he says:
“Pay-what-you-want model: I hate this concept…Asking people what they think music is worth devalues music…This is your art! This is your life! It has a value and you the artist are not putting that power in the hands of the audience – doing so creates a dangerous perception issue…Don’t be misled by Radiohead’s In Rainbows stunt. That works one time for one band once – and you are not Radiohead.”
When Trent says “pay-what-you-want” here, I believe what he’s more specifically referring to is “pay-what-you-want where the minimum is zero.” Whether such a model devalues music is an interesting question, but the point we want to make is that there’s another form of pay-what-you-want, and it does more or less the exact opposite of devaluing music.
On Bandcamp, you can set up your tunes to be pay-what-you-want, but with a minimum price of your choosing. This model allows the artist to set the price they believe represents the fair value of their work, and it gives fans who feel the value is even higher the opportunity to say so. And it completely works. For one of the best-selling albums on Bandcamp, nearly half (47%) of fans have paid more than its minimum price, raising the average price paid to nearly 1.5 times the minimum. For one track by another artist, a fan paid six hundred dollars when the minimum price was just $1 (thanks mom!).
So why does this approach work so well? Our guess is that whereas a set price does nothing to engage a fan, pay-what-you-want-with-a-non-zero-minimum invites fans to ask themselves a question. And that question goes something like “OK, given what he put into it, Trent has decided that this is worth at least $8, but is it worth even more than that to me?” On paper, you might think this would turn some off, but for plenty of people, the answer to the question turns out to be a resounding “Yes.”
The actual point of this post is to say HOLY CRAP TRENT REZNOR THINKS BANDCAMP LOOKS EXCELLENT. Thank you.