Recently I hired a studio and producer to record one of my songs, This Is Your Life. When the song was finished I was so excited and I knew it was a potential hit if I could get enough people to listen to it. So I made a radical decision, I decided to give it away for free.
It is a radical decision because this song is the pay off for years of dedication and sometimes frustrating work. Eighteen years ago I got rid of all my possessions except what would fit in my car and I moved to Nashville, TN, home of Country Music, to pursue a career in music.
I hung out with other songwriters and played at the Bluebird Cafe and other bars that hosted songwriter nights in Nashville. I listened for song ideas at work, at the mall, in the bars and everywhere else I went. I wrote the ideas on a napkins, notebooks or my hand if I didn’t have paper. I’ve written close to 1,000 songs and
most of them are bad. Now I’m holding a great song but there is one problem. NOBODY knows me.
Sure, if I was Justin Beiber the radio stations would play my song over and over again. Even if you didn’t like the song at first you would eventually get used to it and like it. But I’m not Justin Bieber. I am an independent artist and author with a very small platform in a field as competitive as music. How do you combat this?As the Red Hot Chilli Peppers say, “Give it away, give it away, give it away now”.
There Are Three Reasons for This:
1.) If the song (or book, or other creative endeavors) is great, the best chance for it to succeed is for it to get heard, seen or read. It needs exposure.
Ten years ago that would have meant advertising. Luckily, today, we have the gift of social media. If we’ve been actively involved with others we can share what we have and maybe they will listen or read. If it is great or they really like you, then maybe they will share it with their friends. It may be a long shot, but it is a shot.
2.) The Law of Reciprocity.
Once I had lunch with Cliff Ravenscraft, the Podcast Answer Man. We had both spoken at Podcamp Nashville. I mentioned that even though my session was packed with people I still didn’t generate many sign up on my email list. He said he generated 40 sign ups from his session. I asked him how that happend. He told me that he has a free video course on his website, called Learn How To Podcast , to teach people how to start a podcast. He lets people know about this course at all of his events. Then he explained to me:
The Law of Reprocity:
You cannot give something away to someone without them wanting to repay you in some way. In other words, the more you give and help people, the more will come back to you. It is counter-intuitive but I’ve found that it works.
Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income is a great example of this and so is Dan Miller. Dan Miller says he gives away 90-95% of what he offers. He has a free newsletter, a free podcast, a free blog, and free teleseminars along with other free materials on marketing, goal setting and starting a business on his website.
3.) Ancillary Products.
Author Dan Miller says you should give your book away for free (great guest post by Dan on Michael Hyatt’s site here). Even though his 48 Days to The Work You Love made the NY Times best seller list he never depended on that income. He’s used the success of that book to create income by speaking, coaching, creating conferences and writing other self published books among other things.
Mark Cleveland of Swiftwick socks gave away $500,000 worth of socks last year (see the Forbes article here). What happened to his business? It doubled in revenue. Once people started wearing a pair of their socks they wanted several pair to replace their old, uncomfortable socks. Then they bought shirts and other products they offer.