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Comedians and Musicians Embrace New Media

The internet has created an unprecedented opportunity for musicians, comedians and artists of all types to break free of the large media companies and promote and sell their content online themselves. New platforms and technology have made content distribution and discovery cheap and easy for artists and fans. They’ve also done the same for content sales – making it possible for artists to sell directly to fans digitally while drastically reducing costs

Content Promotion & Discovery

Traditional advertising methods and mediums like radio and television are steadily being replaced by online platforms that serve users on-demand content based on their tastes, and enable discovery of new genres and artists. Services like Pandora, Rdio and Spotify make it easy to find new artists by serving up new songs algorithmically to customers based on their tastes. Communities like SoundCloud, and WeAreHunted allow users to stream music and share with their friends. Instead of putting everything behind a paywall, savvy musicians upload portions of their content for free, knowing that their customer base will grow exponentially purely based on the viral sharing of their free content between users. 2011 saw a massive spike in online music consumption and engagement:

  • 64 billions songs were listened to on the internet
  • Musicians & bands made 3.4 billion new fans on Facebook
  • Artist profiles were viewed over 16 billion times
  • SoundCloud saw 231% growth
  • Twitter saw a 104% increase in music-related activity

Even artists without established bases can utilize these platforms. New artists sections are some of the most trafficked and shared, making it possible for bands to get their start without selling their albums on the boardwalk.

Content Distribution

The rise of online piracy has pushed smart artists to adapt by developing and embracing new business models. The focus has shifted from selling thousands of $15 CDs to instead selling millions of songs at $1 each, and more artists are also looking to establish additional revenue streams. For consumers without much pocket money, the choice between a $15 physical album and a free pirated copy is an easy choice – but when the $15 albums is replaced with content costing just a few dollars that is going directly to the artist, many more people seem willing to part with their hard earned cash. These new approaches to content distribution were arguably kicked off in earnest with Radiohead’s In Rainbows album. The album was self released online in late 2007, with fans being able to purchase the digital album for whatever price they wanted to pay. In addition they produced a variety of limited edition physical formats. Estimates put sales for the digital album between $2 million and $10 million – (

More recently Aziz Ansari and Louis C.K. have paved the way for online self-distribution of content beyond music. Both are currently selling digital downloads of their stand-up comedy shows directly on their website using PayPal and are seeing amazing success: In December 2011 Louis C.K. grossed over $1 million from his online comedy special “Louis C.K.: Live at the Beacon Theater after 10 days on sale. (

In June 2012 he sold 135,600 tickets (total over $6 million) to his comedy tour exclusively through his website in one week. In March 2012 Aziz released his special “Dangerously Delicious” on his website for $5.00. No sales data is available yet, but one Quora user estimates sales of approx. $200,000. (

They are somewhat unique in that both have massive online followings to promote to, but the success they’ve already had with this model will open the door for lesser-knowns as well. Bottom Line: A Direct Link Between Artists and Fans has been secured The time of the media companies being the middlemen between content creation and consumption is ending. Cheap platforms and user-aggregated communities that connect the artists directly to their fans are making it so. Twitter, Facebook and email have created a direct link between artists and fans. Artists can always ask fans for feedback, build relationships with them, and promote new content instantly. Ultimately this business model will succeed due to one thing: Cost to the end user.

Would you rather pay a corporation $20 or the artist $5?

Nick Steeves for Wishpond
Easy Online Marketing Tools for Retailers [email protected]


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