Earlier this year, Israeli pianist Roni GBZ Jr from New York-based Jazz fusion group, Any Gama contacted me via Facebook Messenger regarding doing a review on his EP, ‘The Flux Sessions’. As a writer who is always up for checking out new music, I was happy to have a listen and requested him to send over the link.
Roni replied: “Actually, I can have your postal address so I can send you the EP?”
As I am customised to receiving links to artists latest releases via email, I was taken back for a moment. Nevertheless I agreed for the EP to be sent via post.
A few weeks past by and the post from Roni has arrived! The post contain a download card, some instructions on how to access the EP and a pretty cool sticker of the band’s logo. Check it out below:
For a while, it got me thinking why on earth this guy wanted to send me the EP by post? Was he (understandably) dodging the next to nothing revenue offered by monetization programs from renowned platforms? Or was it a marketing gimmick in an attempt to raise the profile of the band as well as the EP?
To quash my curiosity, I’ve circled back to Roni to find out his reasons for marketing his EP with a card, the outcome of using this method plus his general views of the music industry today:
OTB: What are your general views of the music industry today?
Roni: Musicians today have more choice. Rather than only having the choice of being unknown versus being represented by some label, today musicians can create and spread their music in hundreds of different ways, and there are more ways added every year. On the plus side it gives artists more choice and more power over their work, on the minus side the market saturation of products and services fighting for your attention so you publish content through them, or use them for marketing advice and coaching, can really be overwhelming.
For me, I find it all mostly exciting. Despite the fact that it’s hard work, I like the entrepreneurial side of it, and it makes sense to the way I view business in general, and to the way my entire generation thinks of products.
OTB: Have you used or consider using download/streaming sites e.g. Spotify for monetization?
Roni: Yes. I see nothing wrong with it, and I do intend to start using such services in the future, but right now I have bigger priorities. I don’t really think that it could really provide sustainable income in and of itself, but for an independent artist even a few bucks a month on a regular basis is something to add to the equation. Plus, the more exposure you get, the more people know who you are and can help you sustain your business through other channels as well.
OTB: You released your EP earlier this year via a physical copy card with instructions for download. Please explain your reasons for choosing this particular method?
Roni: It’s a novel idea, and I liked it as soon as I came across it. For me it presents a cool hybrid between the inevitable switch to digital online music, and the human need to give meaning to a physical object. That need is still very prominent, even in the digital age. For example – when I go to see a show of a band I like, and they sell their CDs, I buy, and then I take it home and put in on the shelf and never open it. If I want to listen to their music, I just open YouTube, or shout commands at my Alexa, whatever, it’s much more comfortable that way. However, it doesn’t matter though, I still enjoy buying it from the band, because it means I’m making a statement – I like your music, I like who you are, I want to participate, I don’t want to just passively Google your name, I want to own a piece of your music at my home, and be able to tell people that I was there, and I want to give you money so you can keep doing more awesome music!
With that in mind, I don’t think my band still has enough material to justify a proper fully-fledged studio album, it’s much more expensive, and we’ve already released a bunch of music videos to YouTube which are available for free. So, the download card is a nice compromise to give our fans something they can own in the meantime, until we produce our first studio album.
OTB: What was the outcome of marketing the EP through this method?
Roni: Responses were hugely positive. I think a lot of people who didn’t even hear of us before bought it just because it’s such a cool gimmick. It’s also very convenient for me – I don’t need to carry a bunch of CDs in my bag everywhere I go, I can just put some cards in my wallet and pull them out when somebody’s interested. It’s like pulling out a business card, but you’re giving people more than just your website or some links to some other website they’re going to forget about – you’re giving them something they can actually own and which will remind them of your existence, and that’s the name of the game, isn’t it?
OTB: By using this method, did you keep all the proceeds from the EP?
Roni: Yes. I paid a lump sum for the printing of the cards, and then some extra money for the rights for the covers we’ve recorded, and that’s it. From every EP I sell, 20% of the price goes to cover those initial expenses, and the other 80% is profit.
OTB: What type artist/musicians would you recommend this method to?
Roni: Independent musicians and groups who are just at the beginning of their career, don’t have a lot of material or can’t afford to produce a fully-fledged studio album. It’s a nice way of offering your dedicated fans something in the meantime, and a great way of promoting your music to new people who are not already a part of your fanbase.
To find out more about Any Gama, visit anygama.com