Derek Sivers

Entrepreneur, programmer, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.

Emphasize meaning over price = More paid sales

If you are a performing musician that sells CDs at your shows, please consider this:

Terry McBride of Nettwerk told this story at a recent conference:

A band he was managing (Griffin House) was doing the usual thing of selling CDs for $15. They'd mention it once or twice from the stage, and sell about $300 per night on average.

He asked them to try a completely different approach:

  1. Say to the audience, “It's really important to us that you have our CD. We worked so hard on it and are so proud of it, that we want you to have it, no matter what. Pay what you want, but even if you have no money, please take one tonight.
  2. Mention this again before the end of the show, adding, “Please, nobody leave here tonight without getting a copy of our CD. We've shared this great show together so it would mean a lot to us if you'd take one.”

It changes the request from a commerical pitch to an emotional connection. (Replace market mindset with social mindset!) Allowing them to get a CD for no money just reinforces that.

Terry said that the band did this for a while, and soon they were selling about $1200 per night on average, even including those people who took it for free! I think the average selling price was about $10.

But the important part came next:

Because every person left each show with a CD, they were more likely to remember who they saw, tell friends about it, listen to it later, and become an even bigger fan afterwards.

Then, when the band came back to a town where they had insisted that everyone take a CD, attendance at those shows doubled! The people that took a CD became long-term fans and brought their friends to future shows.

Want to try it? Document specifics.

So far this is just rough word-of-mouth from Terry, but it seems like it'd work. Anyone want to try it? If so, I'd like to tell your tale here in a future article.

So please log some specifics, before and after.

BEFORE: How many CDs did you sell at your last 5-10 shows? Average the number and price to come up with an average per-night total and average per-CD price.

AFTER: What were those same numbers for the next 5-10 shows using this method?

Also, please note any specific things you did or said that worked exceptionally well, and perhaps any interesting responses you heard back from the audience.

If you're able to note attendance at the same venue for a concert where you did this, then at that same venue afterwards, that's a nice bonus.

Save these specific numbers, and either post them as a comment below, or email me at Be able to give the venue info, too, because if this goes exceptionally well I'll be contacting the venue for their verification and perspective.

Previous title for this post was “Experiment: Everyone must have a CD, even if free.” but I think the new title describes the real point better