Entries in Chipotle (1)
I love getting things for free – I remember the opening day of Chipotle in Fort Worth, TX back in the fall of 2000, they gave away burritos to all of us “starving” TCU students. I got the barbacoa burrito because it sounded delicious, and sure enough, I remember enjoying every bite of it…until the next day when I either by coincidence had a stomach bug, or else got food poisoning from the burrito. Either way, I do remember the period before the aftermath; I had enjoyed getting the burrito for free. Now being a number of years removed from the situation…I still will enjoy Chipotle from time to time.
Nevertheless, why did Chipotle decide to give burritos away to students for free? Of course, there is always the notion that people won’t know if they like your product until they try it, but does it cheapen the value of your product if you give it away for free? This question has plagued marketers for years, and arguments from both camps have great foundations to stand on. So, when it comes to music, where does the cost or reward of “free” stand?
2012 is a far cry from the music world that I grew up in the 1990’s. My only access to music was the radio, The Box (that cheap network television version of MTV…remember that?), the local record store, and occasionally the copy of Rolling Stone that my friends would give me to after they were through reading it. Looking back, I really only had knowledge of a handful of musical acts at a time – I never really felt like I was overwhelmed with choice when it came to music. And while I never paid the $18 price tag on CD’s that I would see at Sam Goodie at the mall, I would typically pay about $12 for a new release of whatever band I had been exposed to from the one of the few channels I mentioned. The music that I purchased definitely had an assigned value to it.
In 2012, because there are so many channels to hear about new music, it almost becomes a case of paralysis by choice. I’ve addressed that before in multiple posts on my site, but the problem left over is, how do artists get their music to their fans? It seems like we live in the technological era where that should be relatively easy, but because there are so many channels, artists are tasked with really trying to understand who their fans are and what their listening habits are in order to try to connect with them in the appropriate mediums. That is a great thing because fans and artists will hopefully become better connected as that trend continues. The question still arises, beyond word of mouth, how can artists reach new fans? This is where I believe “free” comes in…
My good friend and cohort, Landon Smith, and I rewrote the music to an old Christmas hymn in the fall of 2010, and released it for free on Amazon.com as a music download. We figured, it was the first time we had written and recorded a project together, and because we just classified it in the “fun” category, we decided we’d make it available for free as a little reward for all of our faithful fans’ years of support. 14 months later, the song has had 64,000 downloads from the Amazon website. Needless to say, that song’s success (it is called “Christmas Anthem” if you’re interested in hearing it by the way) far exceeded anything we could have ever imagined.
When we consider the fact that a record will reach top 20 status on the billboard charts if they break the 50,000 unit mark, that was an incredible statistic for Landon and I as independent artists. There isn’t another avenue out there than I can imagine that 64,000 people would not only have access to an artist’s music, but also have it to access later either on their computer, ipod, phone, or whatever other storage device they have. I’m excited about that, because with services like Spotify and I-Match (offered by Itunes), I think music is heading in the direction of subscription services anyway, so our experiment with Amazon just drove that theory home a little more for me…
So, if an artist has the capacity to reach over 50,000 people with their latest project, and all they have to do is make it available for free on a major website? (I realize it’s a little more complicated than just that, but for purposes of this post, we’ll go with it) If that’s the case, my next record might be available at a 100% discount...stay tuned.
Keep on rockin’ in the “free” world,