Bob Lefsetz posted in December about Corey Smith, a fantastic artist who is blazing a new trail through the music business using entirely new ways of thinking.
Corey’s whole business model is based on giving away lots of music for free and building relationships with his fans. Last year he grossed $4.2 million with a team of seven people. He does it primarily through touring and developing seriously close relationship with his fans.
Lefsetz said “Corey was a high school teacher. Playing gigs on the weekend. Marty Winsch (now his manager) was booking a venue. Was there any way to make headway, for Corey to support his wife and two kids playing music?
Absolutely said Marty. But first they had to release the equity in Marty’s recordings. They had to make them free on his site. To everybody.
And it was this giving away of the music that was Corey Smith’s tour support. They didn’t need a nickel from a label or a fat cat. Because once people heard Corey’s music, they had to see him live.
Which they did. In 2007, Corey Smith grossed $1.7 million. This year, not even half a decade into Marty’s management of the act, Corey’s going to gross $4.2 million. Free music built the base. Fan rabidity blew the act up.
You can buy the tracks on iTunes. They’ve sold 420,000 so far. When they experimented last summer, and took the free tracks down from Corey’s site, iTunes sales went DOWN! So, they put the free tracks back up. Actually, people e-mail Marty every day, asking for a track. AND HE JUST E-MAILS THE SONG BACK!
Not everybody’s ready to commit right up front. The free music allows people to try Corey out.
They don’t want radio play. They gave a station in a city sixty tickets to give away, but only on the condition that they DIDN’T play the songs. Marty wants people to experience Corey Smith live. That’s where it happens.
And Marty wants it to be easy. So therefore, he sells FIVE DOLLAR TICKETS! Yes, he rewards fans. Tickets are CHEAPER on the on sale date. And let me ask you, how many people are going to tell their friends they scored such a deal? And maybe drag them along with! That’s your marketing. Your fan base. It isn’t about hiring a PR firm or using Twitter. Actually, Marty pooh-poohs most technology. He says you’ve got be wary that the technology doesn’t get ahead of, doesn’t overwhelm the act. He doesn’t use Google Analytics to find out where each and every fan is. Marty goes on feel. He, and his uber agent Cass Scripps just go into a new territory, and although the first gig might be soft, the one after that never is. Because Corey delivers.
Actually, that’s important. Marty has tried releasing the equity, giving away the music of other acts. But they haven’t succeeded. Because they’re just not good enough.
If you’re truly good, you don’t need anybody else’s money, your recordings can be your tour support, they can put bodies in the seats, you can build a career.
Whenever anybody e-mails Marty and asks if they can meet Corey, Marty always says YES! He tells them when to show up for the meet and greet. This is the new paradigm. Eliminating the gulf between the act and fan. Trusting your audience. That if you’re damn good, they’ll give you all their money.
You don’t have to play by the old rules. You don’t need any money. You just need good music. And good management.”
Corey recently gave a lecture at a UGA Music Business class and talked about his philosophy and career. He mentioned that he has been influenced by “The Future of Music” book. Yeah Baby!
Check out Corey’s Website here and be sure to get one of those $5 tickets to see his live show. This is the future of the music business.