Pledge Music: your music and “sharing the ability to share”

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We invited Benji Rogers, founder of Pledge Music, to share some advice for musicians looking to promote their music DIY style online.

Benji: All day long my inbox, my twitter feed & my facebook feed seems to be a stream of songs that I can have for cheap of for free. I don’t want free stuff I want great stuff, and the way in which it reaches me is perhaps the most important factor in this.

I listen to either my friends, or to a trusted few sources when it comes to recommendations whether they be movies, books or music. My friends are the same it seems. I send recommendations to people that I think will like them, and the key is that I know a couple of my pals would love one song and another something else entirely.

Also the feeling of championing your new discovery is a really wonderful and exciting thing to do as well. When I first heard Kathryn Williams I knew exactly who to send it to, and when the Black Crowes put out a new acoustic record, to my fellow Crowes fans I emailed something along the lines of ”Do not pass go, just get this Effing record in your ears already! What’s wrong with you?”

I am barraged by “Free Music” and to be honest I don’t want it. “Great Music” yes! But free music is like the sample cookie outside the store. If it’s so good why are you having to stand outside the shop and offer it to me?

I find that I have of late been waiting on the odd tweet of FB post before I’ll check anything out. I couldn’t help but hear about the new Arcade Fire record but this gave me no impulse to listen to it. I don’t really care what a stranger writing for a magazine that I have never met thinks of an album that they are being paid to write about. I also don’t care how many stars it gets or if they are on a TV show. The host is never going to tell me how awful it was. But my mates will. One peep out of a trusted friend or source and I’ll buy it on their word alone. The key word being “buy.”

So in band logic this often translates to “but if I don’t offer it for free how will people hear how great I am?” Well I’m not saying that you should create a barrier to entry. You have to make it available in every way shape and form possible. It should be available to stream on every site that you interact on. We built a widget and there are others out there, TopSpin, Reverb Nation, NoiseTrade etc that will offer your fan the chance to stream the song and then to download it, but more importantly the ability to share it.

Speaking to my above point you want your fans to share the ability to share. Those that don’t want it won’t download it but they might share it with someone that they think will like it. But again let your fans and friends do this for you. You are one in millions of artists all hitting the social networks and email boxes of people every day. It’s a deluge. But one mate sharing how much they love the tune will often get someone out to your show faster than any advertising will.

Your trusted or super fans will shout the loudest. We see this daily through the deployment of our widgets. Certain artists are shared and it just goes like wildfire.

We ran a PledgeMusic campaign for a fairly established artist a while back and they released their album to the Pledgers almost a full two weeks before it hit the stores. The record out performed it’s expectations in the market place because those early Pledgers had a full two weeks to talk up how much they were loving the record and essentially told all their friends to go and buy it. Also the positive feedback on forums blogs and social networks to the new record showed those who chose not to Pledge or those who got to the page too late that they were missing out on something great.

Fans will watch what other fans are doing and sharing the ability to share is the most organic way to get this started. Just like friends keep up with what other friends are doing on Facebook. My long winded 2c here is that your friends and fans are already listening to you and that is it their word that you want to get out to their friends. This will in the long run reach more people than you can and as I have seen time and again on our system this will drive more people to not only your shows but also to where they can buy your music.

Benji Rogers,

About the author
Benji Rogers is an independent musician from London England who has been making his own records since 1999. Through Pledge Music Benji will be releasing his 5th independent record under the name Marwood. Born in London, but having lived in New York, Los Angeles and Boston Benji has variously worked in television and film, as a camera operator, and audio engineer. He has even run a bar in New York! Benji has been on tour with his band and as a solo artist with relatively few breaks since 2001 in both the US and Europe. With his mother, father and stepfather all having variously been managers, label owners, publishers and musicians, in the music industry he was literally born into it.

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