Vinyl, Cassettes & Retail

The Business Of ‘Pay What You Want’ Music Pricing

AtlumThough we tend to hear of "pay what you want" music pricing models from big artists like Radiohead,Atlum Schema has found pay what you want for CDs at live shows to be a viable model for lesser known artists as well.  However, fans may not be looking for specific products so much as something that connects them to the larger experience.

"Pay What You Want" for CDs may not be a theme many in the music industry want to hear. But according to Atlum Schema, aka Andy Mort, pay what you want for CDs at live shows can work if you connect with your fans.

Atlum Schema states:

"More people started buying my CDs when I said it was up to them what they paid. I would also encourage the idea that my main goal was for anyone who wanted one to have one, even if they couldn’t give me any money for it. Essentially, just pay what you can afford, even if that is nothing. People started giving me lots more money."

He points to the fact that people buying CDs at live shows are buying something more than a product:

"But they were not giving me £30 for the CD itself, they were giving it for something more, albeit something much less tangible, something you cannot put a price on. The CD merely represented a part of the bigger thing, and the pay what you can model is actually a part of what they are buying into."

For Atlum Schema pay what you want is not a gimmick but a method for drawing in fans. If they've had a good experience and connect the purchase to that experience, then he's happy with the return.

It certainly takes a leap of faith to go from pricing based on what you need or want to make to pricing based on what your fans want to pay. But for Atlum Schema it's working out just fine. See more from grassrootsy on Music Merch.

Hypebot contributor Clyde Smith is a freelance writer and blogger. He blogs about web business models at Flux Research and the world of dance at All World Dance. To suggest music services and related topics for review at Hypebot, please contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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  1. The tip Jar model is excellent at live shows. You know I never thought of encouraging that, but it makes since…cause like said…people are buying into the experience not the actual product! Nice Post

  2. I’ve also heard of artists having success with this model at live shows, and I’ve seen it first hand a number of times. I love the model NoiseTrade employs, which essentially brings the “pay what you want” concept to the web and vastly expands it’s reach.
    The challenge here is that when you’re at the live show there is a stronger social component to “tip” the artist and throw something (anything!) in the bucket. When you’re online and anonymous that external social force is pretty much nil. There may still be an internal social force driving the fan to tip the artist, but this depends from fan to fan and it’s obviously weaker on the web.
    I would love to hear from the NoiseTrade folks – I’m sure they have some great insight and a ton of data on this topic. Plus, I think they have a valuable service more artists should be using. Clyde – may make for a good follow-up to the above:

  3. Well There may still be an internal social force driving the fan to tip the artist, but this depends from fan to fan and it’s obviously weaker on the web…

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