Motives for buying music have largely ebbed off with music streaming being the number one way for people to consume music. It has many practicable features, for example, you can carry all songs on your phone without having to download any.
You also don’t need to commit to one certain musician or band too much. Once they are out of your favour, you simply find the next music crush.
Moreover, the price is also affordable with most streaming platforms billing around the 10 € mark.
From the perspective of the music consumer, music streaming has so many benefits that you hardly can blame anyone for using them.
However, the side of the musicians and bands looks different, to say the least.
Many find it hard to adhere to the recommended release cycle of a new single every 6 weeks.
This is crazy, Spotify doesn’t come with a built-in communications platform where you can post or chat with people. That means that in order to be successful there, you also need to run social media. A given, you would think, but many musicians struggle with the double work as well as the cross-platform connection.
And then lastly, yes the payout of streaming for musicians is very low in comparison to the work and money musicians invest into a release.
And that is no secret, the industry knows it, the fans know it. How come then, that not many people want to invest money into the music they listen to?
Everyone knows streaming doesn’t pay well – so how do you change motives?
First, just because people know something isn’t working doesn’t mean they’ll stop it. See climate change or plastic waste in the world’s oceans. Hoping that someone will do an altruistic move just isn’t a good strategy. Especially not if you are planning to live off of your music.
There’s a saying that if you want to change someone’s behaviour you have to start with yourself. If music fans haven’t bought into you yet – that simply means that your strategy hasn’t worked.
One of the most important lessons about the modern music industry one can learn is to not take numbers personally. I hear this all the time, ‘my music has such a high value, I don’t want to curry favour with anyone.’
That is a false narrative to start with. Having that idea that your music is so highly valued that people just simply will have no other way than to support you and by that of course financially.
The right narrative would be - I myself value my music so highly that I will do everything I can to connect with fans and to start meaningful conversations with them.
Changing your narrative is the first step in earning money through music
Now, try to think about moments where you made purchasing decisions. Perhaps you needed guitar strings or a new suitcase for touring. Why did you end up with the products you bought?
Maybe the suitcase manufacturer had a great company story and is run by the same family for a long time. You liked that because it gave you the feeling of buying something of value that will last a long time.
However, what made you buy the guitar strings? Maybe they’ve been on sale and had a great shipment policy that meant they were in your hands the following day.
You see, different purchases we make have different incentives and motives. The same goes for your music – a creative product that you want to sell to your fans.
You want your fans to stop "renting" your music over streaming services and start "owning" your products.
Research your market and create marketing that works
You might have guessed it, the word marketing comes from the market. Hence you need to research the market at large first before you can draw up a marketing plan.
Make sure to understand the overall landscape first. In music industry terms that would be, how is the touring circuit right now? Which major bands in your genre have announced new releases?
Who are the consumers of the said market and in which circumstances are they living right now? What is their age bracket and what do they do for a living?
For example, let’s say you play in a music genre that is mostly listened to by young adults and students. Then you deal with a complete different economical layer of society than someone who plays classical music (a genre with a much older audience).
What that means is that you really have to get your research right before you can ask anyone to spend money on your music.
Learn about different motives for fans to purchase music
When a person is actioning a purchase of any kind, there is always an underlying motive. Knowing about the different motives people can have is vital in order to streamline your sales tactics. In this section, I will go into all motives that could be applied to selling music to fans.
Need, Acceptance, Fear, Impulse, Pleasure, and Aspiration.HubSpot
Here’s the thing, the more motives you hit with your strategies the more people will be inclined to buy something from you.
This plays into things we need immediately. Let’s say someone’s fridge is broken and it’s 35 degrees Celsius outside. Then there is an imminent need to buy a new fridge.
However, you can also create the need by showing them something they had no idea they needed. Perhaps a fan has listened to your album on Spotify many times.
And now you present a Limited Deluxe Vinyl Edition with a signed poster and a personal note from you. This might inspire a need from the fan to buy it even though they had no idea they needed it in the first place.
Steve Jobs once said, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” The same principle applies to need. Prospects don’t always have a need until you inspire one.HubSpot
People tend to buy products from a sense of missing out or FOMO. They really want to belong to the majority and hence tend to buy products in order to fit in.
Here it is vital to also understand the cultural context of your fans. In Europe for example, music taste and consumption is mostly used in order to distinguish oneself from the mass. You might find that fans want to stand out with their taste.
On the other side, in Asia, it is much more common to enjoy music in order to show belonging. Standing out of the mass is seen as unpolite and not admirable.
Fear – many motives have strong feelings as the base
This one might feel a bit tricky. Of course, you don’t want to scam anyone into buying things. However, if you can understand your audience’s fear you might be able to offer a solution.
As with the previous point, playing on FOMO or Fear Of Missing Out can help you sell limited numbers of special products. Or perhaps your fans feel fear that they miss out on concert tickets, make sure to offer them fan-only access through your newsletter.
All buyers motives should be lead by the idea of solving the buyers problem.
With this motive, you tap into the source of spontaneous purchases. In order to make this happen, you need the purchase to look as justifiable as possible.
For example, if you run a merch shop, make sure to implement products that are on an attractive sale. Or perhaps you could send out a newsletter, letting your fans know that a certain product is getting low in stock and won’t be repressed again. Team a discount with a low stock number and you have your impulse purchases coming in!
This motive fits all target audiences with disposable income. Having a surplus of money means you can shop for pleasure’s sake only.
Without the need to only buy the bare essentials you can offer those buyers something exceptional. This very much taps into the luxury department.
Having a few products that are super special and luxuriously manufactured can give those buyers the reason they need to buy them for pleasure.
Here you really need to get your storytelling going. Being seen as an aspirational role model by your fans could lead them to purchase products in order to get something from your aura.
Just look a Beyoncé. Most fans will probably like her music, without a doubt. But many might also like her because she has become more than a singer, she is a role model and an inspirational source for many.
Just look at TikTok and you see how many people use Beyoncé’s music and art in order to proliferate themselves.
Find the right motives for you and build a strategy around them
Here’s the kicker: by no means do you need to hit all buyers’ motives. For a start, you might not be in a position to produce the luxury items needed for pleasure shoppers. However, it is vital to know about the buyers’ motives in order to plan for the long run.
Also, finding the right products that meet your fan’s buyers’ motivation now, will ensure you can offer them something valuable to invest in.
In order to summarise, make sure to research your market in detail and learn the circumstances of your fans. Offer them products that motivate them to actually purchase them based on their buyers’ motives.
And don’t forget your storytelling in order to sell them more than just a product – sell them a Ticket To Ride!