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We've come a 'Long' Way: Why More Is Better and Why You Need to Find a Niche Retail Outlet

This post is an edited excerpt from a longer-form version that can be found at my official blog, in reference to what I learned from reading The Long Tail by Chris Anderson and how it set forth some business strategies for my company FIXT and our online niche store - the FiXT Store. The part I want to share here with you is the advice I outlined for how to take some of the principles from The Long Tail and apply it to the indie musician.

Reading The Long Tail gave me an entire paradigm shift in thinking about music distribution, sales and even marketing & promotion. The groundbreaking concepts, backed by unbelievable data and case studies is gripping and holds big implications for independent artists.

I don’t want to entirely spoil the enjoyment of what you might experience should you read it yourself, but the basic concept of the book is that with the increasing supply of everything available in the digital era, more and more customers are finding greater satisfaction with niche (or underground, rare, etc…) products vs the traditional mainstream best sellers. The book explains that as the ability to discover deeper niche material is allowed (through various forms of filtering/search/suggestions) we actually have a great capacity to enjoy these rarer items than what popular culture may dictate with the standard “top 10’ blockbuster releases of a given genre/type. And interestingly these ‘smaller’ hits can add up as whole to equal the revenue of the ‘big’ hits.


So What Does this Mean for an Independent Musician?

1. Officially Release all of your Material for Sale!

In the digital age you have no reason to not release everything! There is no out-of-print anymore and chances are if you’re not selling that previous release just b/c you don’t think it represents what you can do now, people are probably still downloading it and you’re just not getting paid for it. If you have a sizable following your die-hard fans probably want to discover your rare, unreleased or demo material and anything in a so-called back-catalogue. The aggregate sales can exponentially increase your overall revenue and you may as well be the one directing fans to that material and allow them the chance to support you directly or else piracy will surely win out and they’ll have the material anyway. You may be surprised at how many fans may actually enjoy that sub-par recording of their favorite song - it may have actually captured the emotion of that magical moment when you first put it down to tape (or disk, etc…).

2. Release Bonus & Deluxe Content.
 It doesn’t matter if you’re an indie artist with 1 song or Trent Reznor trying to change the entire industry - people want to get a value and a personal experience. Any artist can release a single and get it into iTunes or post it for free on their Myspace. But if you take the time to put a package together of not just 1 song, but the demos or b-side that came out of that same studio time, you’ve increased the value of not just the tangible extra content, but the intangible element of an experience. Even in a digital download, if you give an end user extra information, art, lyrics, demos or anything else, it can legitimize your artististic output and show depth to your talent and ability. Add some value to your next release and include value added bonus content or charge a slight premium for extra deluxe content. The more content you have, the more power you have in releasing it and finding ways to market it.


3. Find a Niche Music Store to Host Your Content.
You’ve put in all the hard time and work in creating your latest release and you want to get it in front of potential fans/customers who will want to purchase it, right? Well by all means, get it into iTunes, Amazon, and all the major music stores who each have great filter systems (you can get your music into any of these stores by using an Aggregator such as CD BabyTuneCore or ReverbNation). But if you really want to make sure that you’re gonna reach maximum exposure to the potential fans who would most immediately be interested in your music, take some of the pressure off of your own promotion and marketing and get your release into a Niche Content store such as places like Beatport (electronic/DJ music),DownloadPunk (Punk/Rock/Metal), and of course (insert shameless self-promotion here) - the FiXT Store (Electronic-Rock/Industrial & Film/TV Music).

The value in being in these niche stores is that typically people will be browsing them with existing interest in the type of music the store carries and often times it’s much easier for indie artists to receive featured spots, promotion and visible listings in these stores than the mega-stores like iTunes.



Rule of Thumb 1Release lots of material and make it easy for fans to officially support you.

Rule of Thumb 2Go where your fans are, but also be where your future fans are.


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