Topspin is finally exiting beta this week at SXSW with the commercial release of its direct to fan music marketing software.
The Topspin platform helps artists generate direct-to-fan demand using three channels: viral marketing, target marketing, and direct marketing, as well as, providing data-driven feedback. Most notable among the upgrades is a customizable widget suite that allows users to publish, update and sell content across the net. Utilizing their knowledge of artist affinities and fan behavior, Topspin also provides a target marketing platform to help deploy paid marketing. Once "acquired", the software's direct marketing suite helps artists stay connected with fans through email-for-media collection tools ("I'll trade this track for your email address.") and an integrated email platform.
Some artists already utilizing Topsin have logged impressive results. ”In the first eight weeks following the launch of the David Byrne and Brian Eno self-released record Everything That Happens will Happen Today...
the Topspin platform helped us generate direct-to-fan revenue at the very least the equivalent to what we would have expected from a label advance,” said David Whitehead, founder and CEO of Maine Road Management. According to Topspin, the low cost viral campaign grew Byrne's email list significantly and accounted for 37% of early week sales.
In an era of shrinking revenues, Topsin's success with bundling - offering an affordable digital album, but encouraging the purchase of more expensive packages that might include video, merchandise, other releases, concert access or an artist-specific subscription - should attract the attention of artists, mangers and labels struggling to monetize content. The average Topspin motivated transaction often exceeds $22 vs. 99 cents to $9.99 on iTunes. In one recent campaign, 84% of all purchases were above the basic level offered.
For artists that have built a fan base, Topspin combined with fan engagement activity on music, search and retails sites, should help grow and monetize it. Many other companies offer music marketing tools, but few, if any, offer an integrated toolkit along with analytics and expertise. Topspin is still selective about the artists it works with and charges a percentage of sales which ranges downward from "25% into the teens" as volume increases.
Since tools are only as good as the people using them, Topspin and Berkleemusic.com, the online continuing education division of Berklee College of Music, have formed a partnership to develop online music courses designed to teach artists, managers and labels the effective use of the Topspin platform.
The first, “Marketing your Music with Topspin”, will be released in September 2009, with course enrollment beginning in July 2009. The course takes an in-depth look at the Topspin marketing, management and content distribution platform, and covers all aspects of the software including fan acquisition and relationship management tools, widget publishing, content management, packaging and promotion.
More info on the new course here.