Posted by: Cory | February 9, 2009

Lily Allen pioneering a new way to increase CD sales? Discount them!

Billboard has anounced that Lily Allen is looking for a new way to increase CD sales. The report indicates that Lily Allen’s sophomore album “It’s Not Me, It’s You” is going to be made available for a discounted $3.99 at Amazon.com and MySpace Music until Feb. 16, at which point it will return to its normal inflated price. While I said she’s “pioneering” this way of distributing music, that is probably quite an overstatement considering Radiohead only did the PWYW model for a set period of time before going full price. The interesting thing about this is that her first single from the album, perhaps ironically titled “The Fear” debuted on the UK singles chart on Feb. 1st at No. 1 selling 83,367 copies. I find this so interesting because it seems that piracy is so rampant that even artists selling significant volumes of their music are willing to take deep discounts in order to see more legitimate sales so that they can get a piece of that pie.  My problem with this is that I envision that once the trial period runs out, people will feel that they can justify downloading the music because they shouldn’t have to pay full price for the album since it was so deeply discounted in the beginning.  For example, if M.I.A. or MGMT had done this with their sophomore albums and didn’t receive the massive amount of publicity until much later (as they had), then the numbers of illegally downloaded copies would have been even more absurd than they no doubt were.  For this to work with anyone, there is going to have to be a seriously massive pubilicity push straight out of the gate.  To some extent, this is happening with a series of US dates and a few Secret MySpace shows, but it seems there is going to need to be much more happening to make this really work.

Any thoughts on this way of distributing new albums?  Is this something for only the biggest and baddest bands, or can newer artists adopt this method as well?

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Responses

  1. I just bought it for $4, and really would have had no trouble downloading a torrent.

    It’s hard for me to get excited about paying for something that I already have on my iPod, which is what usually happens when the album leaks a few weeks in advance and there isn’t any way to pay for it. But if it just came out, and is being sold for a token amount, I’ll go ahead and buy it. So I’d say this promotion works.

    I don’t really think $7 and $8 for the M.I.A. and MGMT albums is so expensive that if you wanted to pay for them, you’d think “Gee, this used to cost $4, so now that it costs $7 it’s a rip off. I’ll just download the torrent instead.”

  2. You are giving Lilly Allen and her team a lot of credit… This technique has been going on for awhile and I believe a lot of it has to do with Amazon MP3’s attempt to smother ITunes (an attempt that is at least a little threatening to APple considering they FINALLY agreed to stop the whole DRM thing, one of Amazon’s big selling points.)

    In the last few months, new releases from Fall Out Boy, All AMerican Rejects, Copeland, The Bird and the Bee, Andrew Bird and even Dierks Bentley have been deeply discounted for a period of time. This doesn’t seem all that revolutionary… Discounting product has always been a way of moving it.

    Instead, I think it shows a greater trend in the industry’s realization that the traditional ways of monetizing music are no longer working. Record companies are no longer the gatekeepers of talent – a laptop and an internet connection are. So how can a company make money on something that could very likely be gotten for free? Offer the quality of the store product at a small price. If Lilly Allen has the highest selling record this week, she has the highest selling record – that is a figure of units not a figure of dollars. It will be good for her career, upping value of concert tickets, endorsements, appearances, and over all celebrity. These options can make her all this money she isn’t making now, later.

    This is the music industry for 2009. And if it is going to survive, there is going to have to be more and more of this creativity and risk-taking.

    And for the record – I personally wouldn’t pay 7.99 for Lilly’s new one – but 3.99 almost seems free… I think that is the point…


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