The internet changed the business model for those who want to sell things. If the objective for an artist is to make money, then I personally believe they can benefit from exploring contemporary business models.
I’ve owned a few start up companies myself. Many have failed. I’ve lost many tens of thousands of dollars to theft, ignorance, and other things I now chalk up to education. The one’s that got traction are my marketing business and my real estate business. As a former CIO, I have long been comfortable in the technology space and using the internet to market our services. I’ve used it pretty heavily on behalf of my clients and learned a lot over these last few years.
One thing I noticed is a change in the way things are sold online. Think of an onion. There’s a “free” space around the outside. A “cheap” space one layer in. A “continuity” layer (meaning monthly recurring charges). A more expensive layer inside of that. More expensive layers inside of those until you get to the “premium” layer.
People who are making money are thinking in terms of derivatives – and making money with their talent over time. This is different than a binary sale or no sale idea – where an artist says buy my painting or not. Artists have talent that others want. They know things that others don’t.
Sure… someone can write a book, but the book doesn’t have to be (and probably shouldn’t be from a business perspective) the big bread winner.
Maybe the book is about a specific topic. I’ll use real estate because I know the subject area pretty well. Let’s say I write a book about how you can use your retirement account or your kids retirement accounts to invest in real estate and secure 10%+ returns vs. the 3-4% return you’re getting on paper assets like mutual funds today.
I might market that book online in digital format as well as through traditional printing outfits. Some will buy it. Some will steal it. Some will give it away. Buying it is nice, but I would not depend on that to put food on my table. My money isn’t in that book or any individual product.
I might also have a Web site about my book that has reviews and such – but also has a link to a community of other real estate investment enthusiasts. I might charge a small monthly fee for membership.
To my growing community, I might offer a few exclusive market reports or more in depth investment ideas. I’d charge a fee for those. I might also offer individual coaching or training for those who don’t know how to move their money into fully self directed retirement vehicles. I might also offer to do speaking engagements, webinars or one on one sessions – for a fee, of course. I gotta eat and my time and knowledge is valuable.
If I were writing fiction, I could do the same thing. I could package and sell derivatives like: What formula did I use? How did I avoid carpal tunnel syndrome? How did I deal with writer’s block? How did I flesh out my characters? How did I select my publisher? …. etc etc. All derivatives with money making potential.
Someone who did this extremely well is Robert Kiyosaki. He originally wrote a rather long book titled Rich Dad /Poor Dad. The thing was an 800+ page beast and encompassed a huge amount of his knowledge and experience. After consulting with his advisors, he broke the book into several parts based on themes and sold them individually. Here’s a few titles to give you an idea. Check out the prices for each – all very inexpensive, but all very useful in terms of good solid content:
- Unfair Advantage: The Power of Financial Education
- Rich Dad’s Cashflow Quadrant
- Rich Dad’s Increase Your Financial IQ: Get Smarter with Your Money
- Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!
- Rich Dad’s Before You Quit Your Job: 10 Real-Life Lessons Every Entrepreneur Should Know About Building a Multimillion-Dollar Business
He didn’t stop there! The original reason for the book was to sell his game: Cash Flow 101. The real reason for the game was because he wanted to give people a fun way to learn financial education! He figured if people would play the game (and could “get out of the rat race” four times in 60 minutes or less), they will have mastered the basics of a solid financial education – knowing the difference between assets and liabilities, reading a financial statement, etc. Today, there are “Cash Flow Clubs” all over the world.
All of these book products are linked to each other and to the game. So, if you buy one (like the Power of a Financial Education), and find as you read it that you have an interest in a sub topic (like talking to your teens about money) you could go on to buy his other book Rich Dad Poor Dad for Teens: The Secrets About Money–That You Don’t Learn in School! That, in turn, all leads back to the game.
He leveraged those to do speaking engagements and open a coaching program. An enterprise is in full swing.
AND… on top of ALL of his books, games (he has others), and speaking engagements, he built a network of people who are very willing to give him money to buy his next real estate deal, gold mine, business, or other investment. Does anyone think Robert Kiyosaki cares a whole lot if someone shares his book, a CD or even one of his video programs? Sure, he’s rather make an extra $2 on a $5 sale, but he’d rather have a long term customer. The books and CD’s are positioned well for current internet users.
My point is: the book or piece of music doesn’t have to be the entire business. Things have evolved and will continue to evolve. Bills like SOPA / PIPA protect a very small group – mostly those who do binary sales of a product & build their business around that piece of intellectual property. They hurt many other aspects of contemporary business models – even the artists themselves in cases like the one I described above.