Welcome back to my little documentary (or moc-umentary as I prefer to call it). We are now on Part 2 of a 5 part series exploring the lives of five fictional artists who are all racing toward a six-figure income with very different approaches. Though the casts of characters in this moc-mentary are indeed fictional and sometimes silly, the techniques are not. These are the same skills that artists like you use day in and day out to survive and thrive as independents.
Last time we were together I introduced you to Gigging Gidget who loved to gig but really didn't take the time to develop any other skills. In spite of her lopsided business plan she still managed to arrive at a six-figure income. This time we are going to take a look at the lopsided plan of the next of our five fictional artists on his quest to make a $100,000.
Today you'll meet Fast Freddie, who has built a fanatical following of fans. You'll see how he leverages his relationship with his fans to arrive at his $100k.
[Scene Two, Act One] Camera opens on one Fast Freddy, A Southern Fried Rocker and bandleader from Huntsville Alabama.
From the start it must be recognized that Freddy has a gift. He has the amazing ability to change strangers into fans like no ones business. Freddy has done right by his gift and used it to build up a fairly large statewide fan base.
One day while driving his Ford Fairlane to a gig in Dothan Alabama, Freddie was wondering how he could use his well-developed fan base to increase his income, and on the way he had an epiphany. Freddie thought that maybe if he offered more of himself to his fans he could possibly create some sort of win-win relationship with them. He instantly took up with the idea of forming a paid membership Insiders Club for his band. But Freddie didn't want to have just any old fan club so he decided to build a very special club with all "the fixin's" as he's fond of saying.
He named the club Fast Freddie's Faithful Fanatics, and then went all out to make his Faithful Fanatics club a real temptation to join. He offered exclusives for his members beginning with a signed glossy picture, the Fast Freddy Factoids road journal, free tickets to any show he could get comped tickets to, and the famous Fast Freddy News. He also added every other trick in the book to keep it fresh and exciting.
Freddy also went the extra mile and made it affordable, so that for only $15 per year, you too could become a Faithful Fanatic and receive all the Fast Freddie trinkets and news you could handle. Plus you would automatically be first in line to buy the up-coming Freddy and the Fender Bender's album "Switching Lanes."
Who could turn down such a deal?
Apparently his fans couldn't because - much to Freddie's surprise - most of his email list signed up, as did a steady flow of people from his gigs. By years end he had managed to grow his Insiders Club to a robust 2500 people. Excited by what this might mean to his bottom line Freddie pulls out his trusty calculator to figure the take. To Freddie's' dismay he finds that his 2500 fans giving him $15 each yields him a fat $37,500 per year just for joining his well thought out Insiders Club.
In case you are following along on the math - Freddy took the yearly due of $15 and multiplied it by the total number of fans that Freddy had in his club, which is 2500 fans. When you hit the "equal" button your calculator would undoubtedly show $37,500.
Now as good as Freddie is at getting people to join his club, he was not as good at selling them on his new CD. All told only 50% of his club (1250 people in all) ended up purchasing his highly anticipated CD, which he offered for 15$ to the public, but for only $12 to his Faithful Fanatics. The CD cost him $2.50 per unit including studio and duplication costs. So this netted him $11,875 from those sold to his club members. He sold another 800 randomly at all of his gigs, which netted him an additional $10,000 for a grand total of $21,875 in CD sales.
I'm sure you've already figured this one out, but the math goes like this: Freddie offers the CD to his club members for $12. It costs him $2.50 each, so the per CD profit is $9.50 [$12 - $2.50 = $9.50]. Next he took the 1250 sales and multiplied it by the $9.50 profit per CD and arrived at $11,850. Freddie then figured the CD sales to his non-club members. Those CDs still cost him $2.50 each but he sold them for $15, so the per CD profit is $12.50 [$15 - $2.50 = $12.50]. Next he took the 800 in non-member sales and multiplied them by the $12.50 per CD profit and arrived at $11,875. And, of course, both $10,000 and $11,875 added together equal $21,875.
Freddie had one more shortcoming. For all of Freddie's ability to get fans to join his club, he still hadn't grasped anything beyond the basics of booking.
Consequently he averaged only two gigs per week. But the buzz on the streets was pretty good so he managed to attract an average of 320 people to each of those gigs. He also hadn't learned how to negotiate either, so his split of the cover charge was still only $1.25 a head. According to his figures, his 104 gigs a year multiplied by 320 people per gig, multiplied by $1.25 each, netted him $41,600.
When Freddy sat down at year-end to do his taxes he added all these totals together and was rather fascinated at the results. He punched in the first number from the CD sales totals of $21,875 and hit the "plus" button to add it to the $41,600 from his gigs, which showed him a total of $63,475. Finally he added the $63,475 to the $37,500 from his Faithful Fanatics Club and hitting the "equal" button made him pause. Freddie rubbed his eyes and saw that he had brought in a grand total $100,975!
Not to shabby for a guy with no sales skills and a light booking schedule.
Editors Note: As an update to Freddie's progress, he has recently avowed to read more on booking and promotions and see if he might get a few more gigs and bump up his average crowd size a bit. We think this recent surge in motivation is due to the custom rebuilt Ford F-150 he has his eye on, and a pretty girl name Felina. But we're not sure.
Join us next time as we visit the urban jungle of South Philly and check out how the rapper MacDaddi gets his profit on.
Sean Farrington is a band coach and studio mix engineer from California. He has been a full time music industry professional for over 12 years. During this time he has worked with hundreds of bands and artists in various capacities from the studio to the stage.
He authored the book "Band:Profit" which is designed to help independent bands, solo artists, and performers take their passion for music and turn it into profit.