Most musicians create valuable content without even realising it. Recently Fugazi published on their web site an archive of live performances from their entire career that you can download and pay any amount for, from $1. When Fugazi were recording shows in the 80′s it is unlikely that they thought one day they would all be available, but throughout their career they were creating valuable content. Bands from Metallica to Grateful Dead and Phish are all doing the same, taking the content from the vaults and selling it to the hardcore fans. This is especially vital now there is not the large income from sales of new albums. It’s all about making the most from the fan base you have.
As a new DIY artist you may not have years of out takes and live recordings, but you most likely have a trail of content on your old hard drives, in note books and perhaps even on cassettes. You can use this content to help connect you to your audience and create an additional revenue stream. Here are a few ideas to turn your archive into something that will help advance your career:
- Demos – These are always of interest to fans, even if you don’t think they are up to much. Alternative and early versions of songs help tell the story of you and your music, free up this content to your fans. Using sites like Bandcamp you can sell these tracks and create another income stream or use them to exchange for a fan’s email address to develop a long term relationship. Remember that once you have an email address you can earn revenue from that fan over the coming years in merchandise sales, live concerts and numerous other ways.
- Live recordings – Recordings of gigs and practice sessions can be turned into downloads you can sell or swop for email addresses via sites such as Bandcamp. You can even rip MP3′s off fan shot Youtube videos if they have decent sound and offer these as downloads.
- Videos – Anything you have on video is potential content you can post for your fans, whether its a live gig or you’re just messing about. Always think about if you are adding to or taking away from your legacy and public image with everything you post.
- PDFs – You may have written a book without even thinking about it. Sites like Zinepal allow you to create a PDF book from your blog posts that you can make available from your site. Have you got any essays, music notation or interviews that fans may be interested in? Turn them into PDF’s and allow fans to download them. Create a zip file at one of the sharing sites (like megaupload) and let people download the content, what have you got to lose?
- Interviews and spoken word content – MP3′s don’t just have to be music. Artists such as Amanda Palmer have successfully sold spoken word, interviews and even podcasts. Keep any audio recorded when you’re out on the road or at practice and see what interesting content you have created. One band we know recorded their funny discussions on the way to gigs and sold them to fans. See what you can come up with.
- Old artwork/photos/press clippings/scanned postcards/photos of old tour t-shirts – These can all be turned into PDFs for fans to download. The weirder and more engaging and funny the better! The scanner is your friend, scan every piece of print press, you can then posts these cuttings on your site.
- Anything else digital, free and individual to you – look through your old files and see what you have from short stories to tapes of you talking when you were at school or board games that you print out from a PDF. See what you have and what can be turned into content that you can give away to fans.
Have a good look through your digital archives and see what you have, you never know what will help create a revenue stream and connect you to your fans. You will most likely find you have far more content than you expected.