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Take this Idea – The Buy One, Give One Album

(This was originally posted on Think Like a Label on February 8, 2012)

I have always been fascinated by the buy one, give one model of doing business. As far as I know, it was pioneered by Tom’s Shoes and it’s brilliantly simple. When you buy a pair of Tom’s shoes for yourself, another pair is given to someone in need. It works because people like doing nice things for people, especially if they don’t have to make any additional effort.

So I was thinking recently how this model might apply to music. While it’s no secret that I think emerging artists should not charge for their music, I had an idea for those who are either not ready for that or who are already selling enough that they don’t have to give anything away. It’s simple – the “Buy One, Give One” album.


It could work a little something like this:

1. A Fan visits your website to buy a copy of the album (physical or digital)

2. During the purchase process, the fan can select a friend (or friends) who will also receive a copy of the album (in digital format)

3. When the purchase is made, the fan who made the purchase can download the album. A gift notification email is sent to the fan’s friends, where they can follow a link to download the album (on the download page, you could allow them to opt in to your newsletter, follow you on Twitter, FB, etc)

4. You send a thank you to the fan who made the purchase


Few reasons why this could be cool:

- You’ll know which fans are hardcore enough that they want to share your music. Knowing who your super fans are is incredibly valuable.

- A new potential fan will be given the opportunity to listen to you for free, while removing any stigma associated with “free music”

- A recommendation from a friend is an incredibly powerful promotional outlet. 

- You are capturing the email address of both the fan who made the purchase and the fan(s) who are receiving a copy of the album (use with caution)


A Variation:

Upselling – Instead of giving another “copy” away for free, allow the fan to add another copy of the album to send to a friend for a reduced price. For example, “want to send a friend a digital copy of this album for an additional $2?” – This might be a great way to make a few extra bucks where you might not have before.


Are there any direct to fan platforms out there that offer these types of purchase options?

As always, all I ask is that if you take this idea, you let me know so I can see it in action.


I’ll be at SXSWi from 3/7-3/14! Drop me a line if you’ll be there. 

Jeremy Belcher is the Editor of Think Like a Label, a magazine for musicians & their people. Prior to that, he co-founded FoxyMelody Digital Distribution in 2005, one of the first companies that distributed independent music to the online music services. You can follow him on Twitter @thinklikealabel or visit Think Like a Label

Reader Comments (1)

A couple years ago I actually ran a campaign like this. I always try to have some special sale going on & I think I did this one for Valentine's day. It actually had a really low response compared to buy one get one free which is of course better for me as there's no second shipping cost.

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