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The Proof is in the Pudding – Corey Smith

Corey Smith

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.”

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The Future of Music Book

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!

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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.

We Welcome Your Comments

Comments

22 replies
  1. Jacob Giles says:

    Great post,

    As an up-and-coming artist (solo + group) I am almost overwhelmed by the choices out there in terms of self-promo. Everybody makes it sound as though if you don’t twitter or widget yourself to the world then you’ll disappear – Corey Smith is proof that great music, effort and teamwork is still a viable path to success. I make music to share my passion and experience (talent?) with other people – not to sounscan 100,000 in my first week. Focus on a tangible and genuine connection with your supporters – let’s not reduce our art to spreadsheets and bottom-lines.

    – Jacob Giles

  2. Malinda says:

    Hi,
    I have tried to access Corey Smiths music online, and have been unsuccessful. I am writing a thesis on music, and the internet, but will probably have to drop his information because his theory of free music is not able to be confirmed.
    I am a singer myself, and find the marketing plan interesting.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Nun, das ist schlicht nicht richtig. Neben der bereits erwähnten Aufzählung an Beispielen, vielleicht als Nachtrag noch dieses Beispiel: […]

  2. […] friend Bruce Burch teaches at UGA and recently had musician Corey Smith in to guest lecture. I have written about Corey before. Here are three clips from the class where Corey talks about his life, his music, his career […]

  3. […] ingresará 4.2 millones. “Vía Techdirt. Dave Kusek, Future of Music (Futoro de la música). [Liga] [etiquetas: escuelas, Gestión de derechos digitales (Digital Rights Management, […]

  4. […] Then, apparently, his manager had a revelation and started giving all of his music away for free: and last year Corey brought in $4.2 million. And the music industry is complaining that if the government doesn’t step in creative […]

  5. […] Last week I was having lunch with my friend Llew who told me about a folk-rock musician named Corey Smith. Anyone ever heard of him… or his music? Not me. Llew went on to tell me that last year Mr. Smith’s income was 4.2 million! Check him out. […]

  6. […] is now making his living as a musician, resulting in gross receipts of $4.2 million last year. Most of that cash comes from concerts. Tickets to those shows go for $5. As in, five […]

  7. […] The Proof is in the Pudding – Corey Smith | Future Of Music This is how to be successful in the music business. (tags: success musician music_business marketing money) […]

  8. […] entrepreneurs to innovate on the business model. No fucking duh. Corey Smith has found a way to give his product away and net $4.2M last fiscal year. Besides, didn’t Wired write about this same thing a year ago? If there’s a positive […]

  9. […] Source : Future of Music […]

  10. […] leave a comment » By Stephen Pate, NJN Network, Charlottetown, PEI, Canada, January 24, 2009 with a story by TechDirt from The Lefsetz Letter […]

  11. […] Read it. 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. 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. 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! […]

  12. […] models to follow.  His model is based on the widespread distribution of his music for free.  As Dave Kusek reports: Corey’s whole business model is based on giving away lots of music for free and building […]

  13. […] Then, apparently, his manager had a revelation and started giving all of his music away for free: and last year Corey brought in $4.2 million. And the music industry is complaining that if the government doesn’t step in creative […]

  14. […] – January 19, 2009Report: Digital Music Sales To Surpass CD By 2013 – January 19, 2009The Proof is in the Pudding – Corey Smith – January 19, 2009 No TweetBacks yet. (Be the first to Tweet this […]

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