The Problem With Artist ….

The problem with artists is that they think their art is enough.

“Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.”


Build a better mousetrap, let everyone know about it, and then they might show up is more like it.

So recently I’ve fallen in love with a band called HoneyHoney

They’re a little country, a little folk, but a whole lot of awesome.

I found out about them from the Joe Rogan podcast.

From there I spent $250 to help them tour via Kickstarter and after hanging with them backstage for a few hours I was hooked.

I even went on a business trip a day early and paid a scalper double the ticket price to see them in San Francisco.

3 concerts later I’m ready to get their name tattoo’d on my chest.

But instead of that, I’ll just share how they’re leaving a shit ton of cash on the table and how they could fix it (this applies for any band really).

Here are my thoughts.

I’ll admit it, I’m a big fan. I’ve spent at least $500 going to concerts, buying stuff, etc and I would spend A LOT more with the band if they’d let me.

Let me explain. After the first $250 backstage experience I was hooked. I would have gladly paid that for each concert I saw them at. Instead when I reached out via social media (twitter, facebook) to see if that was an option – I was met with silence.

No response = no cash.

It’s not all I’d pay for.

When I tell people about HoneyHoney, here’s what I tell them:

“They’re an amazing band. Grab their CDs, but for the love of God go see them live”

See, to me their CD’s are eh, but their live show kills and where they really shine. Don’t get me wrong – the songs are awesome, but the lead singer’s voice is so powerful and sounds so much better live than captured on CD.

I’m not the only one who thinks this by the way:

So what I would kill for right now is a HoneyHoney live CD or download.

Don’t believe me?

Ok here is an example – the other night they played a show live and it was streamed through TuneIn.

I not only left my gym early to catch the show but I spent an hour trying to get my computer to record the stream through the speakers.

My computers crashed, I got infected with spyware (stupid BS program) and finally spent $5 on an iphone app to record the stream of their show.

I then re-recorded the show from my phone to the computer, edited it, and then put it on my computer to listen to at 2am (I started at 8:30 pm that night).


I would have gladly paid the same or more for a copy of a live show as I did the app.

Speaking of live shows, lets talk about that next.

Live shows. This is where these guys live, where they breath, and where they make new fans with each show. It’s also where they make their money.

When I saw them in Midland I told the couple next to me “listen to one song and you’ll be hooked.”

Halfway through the song they leaned over and said “They are fucking amazing. You were right, I’m going to buy their albums right now.”

So the show is over and you make your way over to the merchandise table.

Now for those who don’t know – for a band, merchandise is where the real money is made.

T-shirts, stickers, CDs, water bottles, and …. wait – what? Water bottles?

Ok then.

So let’s talk about the merchandise for a second.

About the only piece of merchandise I don’t own is a t-shirt.

I take that back, I got a t-shirt with the Kickstarter campaign that had a rooster on it and was so thin I could see the wall through it. Not to mention I was afraid that if I put it on I’d rip it like Hulk Hogan did back in the day.

The shirts at the show look similar. Strange designs, poor quality (at least they look like that) and nothing that I’d wear in public or private.

Spend a buck more per shirt and I’d bet that people would eat them up. They’d be high quality and last longer, and they would promote the band in turn.

Remember that couple I converted?

They were wearing shirts for TheChive.

Those guys know how to make a shirt.

They limit the release, make them out of great quality, and sell out in minutes anytime they release a new one.

Whenever I see someone wearing it I always go out of my way to comment.

Bands can and should do the same.

Spend a little more upfront on the shirts – it’s helps justify the shirt cost and people will rave about the quality (like they do with Chive shirts).

But, you know what I really want?

I want something that reminds me of the night I saw them in concert.

How about a better shirt with the tour dates on the back?

Release a new one each tour, limited edition, etc.

I’d have bought one for each concert instead of none of them.

Here’s another idea (and real money maker) – why not record each show and offer it for sale at the end?

Sure I want a CD, but I’d kill for a copy of the show I just listened to.

There is a band that does this – the Ryan Montbleau Band – and I bet it’s pretty profitable for them.

Buy a $15 USB drive and you get the show from THAT NIGHT on it.

Not to mention that band also puts the show up for sale on their website so you have the chance to buy and pay what you want for it there if you missed the show.

Imagine this – 1400 people there for the show (that’s how many tickets were pre-sold in Midland), 5% of those make it to your merchandise table and a lot of them buy your live recorded show.

That’s 70 people at $15 a pop = $1050 potential for that single show, lost.

Now some shows will be more, some less, but without even offering it you’re missing out on any money being generated at all.

Consider that $1,000 lost for every tour stop and it looks like their most recent tour has 21 stops on it.

You do the math.

Want to be really sick? Do the math on what they could have made if they recorded every show since their beginning of the band.

PUKE right?

Not to mention they get another benefit from the live recording – content.

Content for future releases, content to help spread the word, and convert the masses.

Speaking of personal, here’s something else I’d pay for – access and exclusivity to the band.

Wanna know why I paid $250 to help them?

A few reasons actually:

1. I love to support bands like this. Their music rocks and I want to do what I can to ensure I’m listening to it for a long time to come.

2, I got personal access to the band and that made me feel privileged and exclusive for being there. Kinda like seeing a show from the cheap seats or front row center.

3. Bragging rights to my friends and family

While everyone else was listening to the main act, I’m in a green room with HoneyHoney talking about business, life, and whatever else.

We played pool, drank an entire bottle of booze, and had one of the best nights ever.

I want to do that again. As many times as possible. And I’m willing to pay.

But I can’t. Here I am, a rich white guy with money (a good demographic of fan by the way) and I can’t spend it with them if I tried.

So not only could they offer a VIP meet and greet at every stop but here is something they could do when not touring – offer a private concert over the internet.

I got this idea from porn.

It’s where I get most of my ideas.

It’s also why I research it for hours a day.

Ok seriously, what if you’re in BFE or live overseas and can’t get to a show to save your life?

But wait, HoneyHoney announces a private concert on Facebook to all their fans.

It’s $15 and fans get to vote on the set list and talk with the band after the show.

They come on, play for 45-60 minutes, do an hour of Q&A (all questions submitted beforehand btw).

Again, you do the math.

Email their list a few times, make some announcements and they can pay the rent (plus some) from the comfort of their living room without having to stop at a single shitty truck stop.

Now these can’t take the place of the live shows and studio recording but they can and should do these for fans who want to pay for the privilege.

Plus for $5 more I can get a recording of it emailed to me????

Here’s my wallet, take all you want, please leave me enough for bus fare back home.

By the way, lets talk about bragging rights.

That’s huge. Do you think I drove 10 hours roundtrip to do the VIP thing without telling anyone???

Hell no. I told everyone with a pulse, I tweeted, facebook, and might have sent a smoke signal or two.

Bottom line – I went from fan to champion after that show.

I bought more stuff, went to more shows, told more people about them, etc.

Without the VIP experience none of that would have happened so by not offering it they lose out on the immediate cash and the lifetime value of people spreading the message.

Now look, I get it. They’re artists. They want to make music, fall in love, break up, and write about it.

They don’t think about the business side – but someone should do that for them.

After all the chances of making it HUGE (Grammy’s, Platinum Album, etc) might be tougher than expected BUT doing these few changes can make the difference between staying at a 5 star hotel or one that you won’t get shot at.

By the way, if you’d like to hear what HoneyHoney sounds like live check them out here


15 thoughts on “The Problem With Artist ….

  1. Awesome post. Those insights apply to nearly every business. Find a place where people can experience more and are willing to pay for it.

    You should create a Market your Band product 🙂 Keep beasting it and now heading to listen to them jam.

  2. Great post. these are all great points and tactics but the last 2 times i saw Dweezil Zappa tour his dads past band members in Zappa Plays Zappa they did all of this and more. there was a $$$vip early meet n greet/backstage deal. there were lots of high quality tees and merch, they just plain gave away an mp3 of the show afterwards via a download card.( tix were not cheap.) not sure about the private concert but im sure anyone waving cash to sponsor a private show gets some of the best musicians in the world to play when Dweezil returns their call. also one show i saw in chicago they had sponsorship from fender guitars so they gave away an awesome guitar based on a random drawing of audience ticket number…,. there is nothing new under the sun and most bands desperately need to embrace marketing as part of their art. empowering their fans to become evangelists shouldnt be such an aversion for the artist. really i dont get how they resist it. but im just an artisan at marketing so what do i know…

  3. At $1,000 a pop and 21 stops…Well that’s…. that’s $21,000 dollars in lost earning. There…I did the math. Not bad actually. Not to tough for me to figure out. Thanks Tim.

  4. I love music and I completely agree with you. I saw Zappa Plays Zappa and got to meet Dweezil. Also, last time The Who came into town they also sold a DVD of their show afterwards. i’ll have to check out this band.

    In terms of merchandise, I think the most creative piece I ever heard of was a lawn mower.

    Also, I highly suggest you read “The Indie Band Bible” by Mark Makoway. I read it in high school and it basically merges the business side of having a band with the musical side.
    Its a brilliant read.

    And nice post by the way 🙂

  5. I had to laugh out loud when you said you get your best research from Porn. Too bad I’m a girl & don’t do any of that research. I think that some musicians believe that it’s unseemly to promote themselves. The truth is that if they don’t – they will surely fade away. Everything you write is awesome! Try as I might – I’m powerless to resist your Sales Letters. You should definitely talk HoneyHoney into letting you promote them.

  6. Thank you for Tim for taking your marketing expertise and applying it to a subject that is near to most people’s heart (music). I’ve been here in Austin TX for the past week enjoying the South By Southwest festival and have seen so much talent – it makes me ache to know that many of those musicians are struggling, so your article came at a perfect time for me.

    I’d like to offer an example of an artist who is doing his marketing right – Rob Thomas (not the musician) is the creator of the TV show Veronica Mars. Like several shows in recent years, Veronica Mars was canceled long before it’s time and it left many fans aching for more. So Rob started a Kickstarter project to crowdfund a Veronica Mars movie –

    There are several unique opportunities for fans of the show to get the VIP experience, including having a walk-on/speaking part in the movie, invitation to the red carpet premiere, and even having lead actress Kristen Bell record a personalized video greeting for you. If you look at the results, I think it proves the point you made – only 3 days into the 30 day project and $3.4 million dollars has already been raised. The original goal was to raise $2 million in 30 days,

    I encourage every marketer to study the different rewards for each pledge point – I’m confident it will get your wheels turning just like it did mine.

  7. Hey Tim, I was mesmerized when you told this story a day or so ago. I could not not read it, the words were so mesmerizing. And to think how much money they are leaving on the table.

    I was actually a bit surprised that you didn’t tell us that you offered to be their marketing person – yet…….

    I fully expected to read that you had, after I read this line, “They don’t think about the business side – but someone should do that for them.”

    Awaiting an update on whether you do have plans to help them out by doing more promotion, advising for them, maybe helping them hire someone, or being a consultant, or being a raving fan, or………..

    You do have my interest:)

    Hope to see you in a few weeks too!


  8. Wow Tim what an awesome post. I know plenty of underground musicians who aren’t even scratching the service on how much they could be earning. Definitely gonna spread the knowledge around and incorporate these tactics in my own business. Great stuff!!

  9. Hey Tim,

    I can’t listen to HoneyHoney. I just don’t think I’m wired that way, but “to each his own”, right? And besides, I don’t think that this content is all about HoneyHoney anyway, right? It really got me thinking and you’re probably right about a lot of your assessment of the music business, in general. The last concert I went to was a little over a year ago and my boys treated my wife & I to a Rush concert (no they’re not dead … close, but not quite). Their shirts were somewhere around $30 and were pretty good quality, but I don’t recall seeing them do any kind of marketing, other than the vendors & their name on stage. Could you imagine the kind of money they could make by just putting up 1 short code in lights (before, after or during a concert in front of 60,000 people) and asking the audience to text “Rush” to that code and then market to the list, from just that one concert ? Then they could send out text messages a couple to a few times a month, or shoot out emails promoting their schedule, new songs could be sampled by a select few, via a contest …. the possibilities make my head spin. Ultimately, it would be the group’s manager that would have to delegate someone to promote via social media, mobile, email, etc… but the money that could be made, could be HUGE!!! Just think of how smaller bands (garage bands) could market themselves and virally grow their audience … Thanks for the seed, Tim. Great content Bro!!!

  10. Thanks Tim for your sharing in this post! It’s really insightful and makes us ponder how much money these artistes (and many other different artistes) are losing by not having a full range of merchandises for more “backend” monetization. If HoneyHoney are using your strategy right now they and their company could be raking in several thousands of dollars or more per tour.

    I have seen this kind of monetization strategy done by several Chinese records companies for many of the high profile artistes who have huge fan bases and they are totally killing it.

    Love your blogposts, so keep them coming!

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