December 22, 2009

Don't Worry About the Pirates.

So you are an indie musician, and you are worried about pirates – those naughty people who are allegedly stealing food off your table and from the mouth of your children.

Well I am here to tell you there is no need to worry – pirates may just be the best thing to ever happen to you.

First, let me tell you something that you probably don't want to hear – you are nobody. You are nobody in the sense that 99.9999% of the people on this planet has never heard of you. The only way to change this is to get your music into the ears of as many people as possible

Big artists do this – they have TV spots, radio spots, newspaper reviews. These are all ways to reach listeners without them paying anything.

This is also what you need to do, and pirates do this very well. If a single pirate distributed your music to two other pirates, and they in turn distribute to two more pirates and so forth, in a very short time you would have reached all of western civilisation.

Now I can see you getting puffed up, about to yell at me how this doesn't make you a dime. Just give me a second, will you?

The second thing I am going to tell you is that to a first approximation, you make money only from your fans. Remember that the word "fan" comes from fanatic – they are people who bought the Fellowship of the Ring when it first came out on DVD, then bought the Director's Cut, then bought the Special Limited Collector's Tin Box Edition , and then the Super Mega Ultra Edition that came with a Gandalf bust, then they did it again for the Two Towers, Return of the King, then for the whole damn series. These are people who have 12 versions of each Lord of The Rings trilogy, and will purchase the anniversary edition when it comes out in 2012 anyway.

The point is: your fans love you, they will buy your music, your merchandise, and go to your concerts even if they can get it for free – that is just how fans are.

Now the only way to get fans is to have people listen to your music, and as long as you have a non-zero conversion rate of joe-listener-to-fan, you come out on top. The more people you reach, the more fans you get, and the more money you make.

Just in case you don't get it yet, here it is in point form:

  • no one has heard of you
  • if no one has heard of you, you have no fans
  • you make money from fans
  • people become fans from listening to your music
  • pirates distribute your music to millions, even billions of people
  • this increases your fanbase
  • a larger fanbase means more money
  • a large enough fanbase means you have Made It Big

Got it?

Cheers,
Steve