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During the Great Depression of the 1930’s and 40’s, movie theaters needed to find new ways to get patrons to part with their increasingly difficult to earn dollars. Solutions included double features, air conditioning (an idea borrowed from the meat industry) and most successfully popcorn. Not only was popcorn a low cost, high profit item that people loved; it also made then thirsty and willing to pay for a soft drink.

A new Forrester Research podcast series “Find Your Popcorn, Monetizing Content In The Digital Age” by analyst Nick Thomas is exploring new ways to build revenue around content in the digital age. It’s part of a broaderimage from<br /> popcornboxes.net Forrester research project of which I’m suspect will include music at least tangentially.

What is music’s popcorn?

The popcorn analogy is not an example of freemium – giving something away as a sample in hopes that they’ll pay for more later. It is about selling something (preferably low cost and high margin) and having that sale lead to another sale.

How many single track sales lead to full track? I suspect not many. How many concert appearances lead to album and merchandise sales? The conversions there are higher. Trent Reznor’s concept, refined successfully by Topspin and others, of offering products at varied price points that entice different levels of fans touches on the popcorn model, but does not fully capture it.

Since fans of one artist often have little in common with fans of another, perhaps the “popcorn” is different for each artist. Neil Young fans wanted those early acoustic tapes. Lady Gaga fans are more interested in her latest video spectacular.

Finding our popcorn may not be easy, but can’t you almost taste the results?


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3 Comments

  1. Finding the popcorn means there is an emotional connection with music and the desire to make an impulse purchase. The current environment, in my opinion, is sterile; it delivers the music, but forces fans to seek out the rest of the experience on their own. The labels exacerbate the problem because they typically don’t have a stake in the “rest of the fan experience;” they only want to push the recorded music. It’s up to the artist to find ways to unify all of these elements. I believe driving merchandise sales is part of the solution, but the merchandise market is completely out-of-sync with trends in digital music discovery. One of the primary goals of Tunipop is to make access to an artist’s merchandise as ubiquitous as their music is online; giving fans a relevant, timely and convenient way to spend while they are engaged in music discovery, purchasing and online listening. This is only one piece of the puzzle, but it could unlock a profitable and yet largely overlooked slice of the spending pie.

  2. W. Henderson on

    Maybe pot needs to be legalized?
    I tend to impulse buy when I hear that something like “the new Gorillaz album is out now” and then I immediately rush home and order a pizza and chill for an hour or 2

  3. Bruce, you and the original author have both referred to this as a podcast, however, I think he has misused the word to describe simply putting media on a web page. Podcasts got their name because you could put the content on you iPod.
    I see see the feed for the blog and that works in Google Reader like another other blog with an RSS feed. A podcast however is something I should be able to subscribe to in iTunes or similar podcatcher app and then view on my iPod offline, e.g. when I am in the NYC subway with no wi-fi.
    Is there really a Podcast? Inquiring minds want to know.

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