Why artists releasing albums worth of RBN material should embrace the $1 price point

Ralphy2009Ralphy2009 Opening Act
edited March 2010 in The Rock Band Network
We've seen many albums released on Rock Band via official DLC. In retailers, most albums sell for under $15, but with official RB DLC they sell for $20 and under. This can happen because of pack discounts.

Look at the albums Doolittle and Blood Sugar Sex Magik available on Rock Band. Doolittle sells for $19 for the full album, but it would be $28 if all tracks had to be purchased separately. BSSM sells for $20, but it would be $32 for all tracks separately purchased! The price becomes fairly unreasonable at a certain point (and I feel for the Wii owners who don't have the bundle discount option available for normal RB DLC).

It's not my intention to single out specific artists who are bringing albums to the RBN and how they are pricing their songs, but I think there are a couple good ways to approach the pricing in general with the RBN's lack of a bundling option:

The first method for an artist bringing an album with a considerable number of songs on it (more than ten songs at $2 will start getting over $20) would be to release all of the tracks at $1. If you're releasing 14 or 16 songs like Doolittle and BSSM, that makes the prices $14 and $16 respectively, which is closer to Rock Band's bundle pricing than the $28 and $32 figures and also much more reasonable.

The second method I had in mind for releasing an album with many songs would be to release a handful of tracks (likely between 1 and 5 depending on the length of the album and the number of noteworthy songs) at the $2 price point. These might be the singles from the album or the stand-out tracks. Then price the rest of the album's tracks at $1. So a 14-song album with three songs priced at $2 would be $17 total, which is very close to the bundle discount. And a 16-song album with four songs priced at $2 would be $20 - right in line with BSSM's bundle pricing.

What do you think? Should artists releasing albums or most of their discography take these approaches into consideration?

Comments

  • bjyaritzbjyaritz Road Warrior
    edited March 2010
    Absolutely! You make some good points and hopefully artists will understand that they will only get more music out with a $1.00 price tag. More music = more fans.
  • KariodudeKariodude Road Warrior
    edited March 2010
    I think they should still charge $2 per song for the most part unless they are a virtually unknown band. When buying a full album, only big fans are gonna buy every song anyway. Plus, if people want the song, they won't have a problem paying $2 in most cases. And it's true that more people might buy it at $1 than $2, but it would have to be a big difference. Twice as many people would have to buy it at $1 to get as much as they would have at $2 and that just isn't going to happen.
  • GoatbusterGoatbuster Rising Star
    edited March 2010
    Kariodude;3570624 said:
    I think they should still charge $2 per song for the most part unless they are a virtually unknown band. When buying a full album, only big fans are gonna buy every song anyway. Plus, if people want the song, they won't have a problem paying $2 in most cases. And it's true that more people might buy it at $1 than $2, but it would have to be a big difference. Twice as many people would have to buy it at $1 to get as much as they would have at $2 and that just isn't going to happen.
    Still, charging $1 for a song brings in a lot more people than one would think. Impulse buyers, people on the fence, friends who want to have the same songs, etc will all come flocking in much larger numbers at a reduced price.
  • Santa ClaustrophobiaSanta Claustrophobia Road Warrior
    edited March 2010
    Charging less does not automatically mean sales success. Sometimes the higher price means higher profits even at the cost of fewer units moved.

    Saying that songs that cost half as much will sell twice as many doesn't mean that it will. Plus, selling a commodity that cannot run out (digitally distributed game content) to only 100 people at twice the price is better than selling it to only 200 people at half price. Because if you sell it to 101 people, you'd have to sell it to 202 at the other price to make the same amount.

    This means that 150 at $2 is more profitable than 250 at $1. And in the long run, still as likely to reach 250 and beyond at $2.

    Other than the usual 'I don't want to pay "normal" prices for content that is not delivered in a "normal" way or by providers I know' what is the point of telling people how they should charge for their own product?
  • jawillroyjawillroy Rising Star
    edited March 2010
    bjyaritz;3570588 said:
    Absolutely! You make some good points and hopefully artists will understand that they will only get more music out with a $1.00 price tag. More music = more fans.
    I really, really wish I agreed with you, but I don't think that's how it'll play out. Developing artists are wise to release their material as cheaply as possible, but album strategies do not work on the internet UNLESS there's a way to bundle the tracks. RBN's much better suited for singles.

    My guess is that albums sell as DLC:
    A) because they're bundled and can't be cherrypicked
    B) Because the bands chosen for the "album" treatment have a long-established fan base that they can count on to buy everything they put out. (Pixies and RHCP are not exactly scrambling to find ears at this point.)

    Thing is, with RBN, songs are released individually. The labels won't be able to bundle them, to insure that every track on the album gets bought - so all but the most insanely devoted fans will cherrypick their favorites and ignore the non-hits on the albums.

    So... I don't predict seeing anybody's favorite albums being released here on the RBN with all the songs at a buck a pop.

    And I don't really see Rock Band as a great outlet for full albums by developing bands. Most people will NOT download large numbers of songs from a band they don't know already. Not for money, not for free. They'll take ONE song. If they like it, they might come back. But ten, or twelve songs, bought en masse? The only people who do that are already your fans. And if you already have fans, then you go ahead and charge $2 for your single.
  • LuigiHannLuigiHann Stormtrooper
    edited March 2010
    They could always release the big singles for $2 and the, you know, "album tracks" for $1. Or something

    I think it's too bad there's no option for a $1.50 price point, so that an artist releasing 3 songs could simulate a 3-pack discount
  • QuazifujiQuazifuji Opening Act
    edited March 2010
    LuigiHann;3570781 said:
    They could always release the big singles for $2 and the, you know, "album tracks" for $1. Or something
    That's what the Slip did, and it seems to have been a good move (with Even Rats being one of the best-selling RBN songs going by leaderboard entries but Children of December not even making the top 30). You Shriek's songs are also different prices, although Lilith in Libra doesn't have the huge fanbase that Even Rats does backing up it's price. Come to think of it, do we have estimates on how the two You Shriek songs compare in sales? It seems like they might be the best test case we have for how song price affects sales, since as far as I know neither song's well-known and both have received good word of mouth, so they're working from similar positions but at different price tags.

    I do think, however, the point of this topic goes beyond the standard "will $1 make more money in the end?" debate that's happened over and over again and probably won't go anywhere until we've got some more concrete data. I think the point is that, for bands releasing large numbers of songs, pricing at 80 MSP may be more advantageous than it is for bands releasing one song. If a band's releasing one song, then that song might not sell twice as well at half the price (ignoring the publicity issue right now, since, while significant, it complicates things a lot). However, if a band releases two songs at half the price, then people might be more likely to buy both the band's songs. If they release more, than the chance increases more.

    I think jawillroy's probably right that only diehard fans of a band will buy a whole album one track at a time regardless of the price. However, I think people who aren't as big fans may much more likely to buy large portions of the album at a lower price point. I know I saw one person posting that, when expecting Jonathan Coulton's songs to be 80 MSP each, they had planned to buy all three launch songs, but at 160 MSP they were just going to buy their favorite one, thus spending less money on his songs. I'm in a similar situation: I was probably going to buy two or three of his songs at a low price, but instead I haven't bought any yet and am undecided about whether I'll pick them up eventually. Now, there are a lot of factors to consider here (maybe if he'd been expecting them to be $2 from the beginning he'd be less disappointed and buy more of them, or something like that), but it still shows that more cheap songs might be a good idea.

    The Main Drag songs might be another example. I don't have an anecdote here, but I know I've already purchased three songs and have the vast majority of the rest on my potential future purchase list, but if they'd been more expensive I'd probably only have one or two with no plans to buy more.

    I think part of what happens is that people are likely to go for diversity. When a band that someone kind of likes or that they know is fun to play in Rock Band comes out, they;re likely to first just cherry pick the best one or two of that band's songs and leave it at that. If the songs are cheaper, they're more likely to check out the rest of the tracks and be willing to buy more.

    Of course, this is still like the pricing debate in general, in that it's all just speculation until we see sales estimates showing strong evidence of how prices affect sales, but I do think that there's a difference between selling a single song at a price and selling an entire album at a price.
  • TheFuture15TheFuture15 Unsigned
    edited March 2010
    Pricing was something I wrestled with for a long time working on Zack Wilson's songs. I started authoring way back in like October, and so as I saw a lot of the other songs that were going in at the time, I thought Zack's stuff was worth a more premium point of 160 MSP. A lot of the other songs were really short, and quite a few of them just seemed to be made on a computer with not much production value. I kind of figured that Zack would have 2 of maybe 20-30 songs up there when it went live (which I thought would be in December or January), and 160 was going to be a nice premium for his stuff. Well after Ox and Another California Song actually got approved (and RBN went into open beta), a huge wave of stuff started rolling in, including a lot of stuff from big- and medium- name bands, and I immediately realized I needed to be at the 80 MSP mark. I will change their prices down to 80 if I can - I totally realize that it's tough enough for someone to spend money on a strange person's music, so the cheaper the better. We're not trying to make money - we're trying to get his name out there.
  • cherokeesamcherokeesam Washed Up
    edited March 2010
    jawillroy;3570674 said:

    So... I don't predict seeing anybody's favorite albums being released here on the RBN with all the songs at a buck a pop.
    Except....you might want to look up The Main Drag, James....;)
  • MarklefordMarkleford Opening Act
    edited March 2010
    TheFuture15;3571245 said:
    We're not trying to make money - we're trying to get his name out there.
    And that's what a lot of people don't understand.

    $1 = more ears on your song!

    Then if someone likes your stuff, they'll be more likely to buy your *actual* music or other merch, or go see your show if they're local. And that's profit that's more than the $.30 per dollar RBN will pay you.

    But it's not about the money. It's about capturing the hearts and minds of the listening public. Many of us find that infinitely more valuable.

    (And yes, before people ask, we *would* have given our stuff away for free if it had been an option!)

    - m
  • MarklefordMarkleford Opening Act
    edited March 2010
    cherokeesam;3571425 said:
    Except....you might want to look up The Main Drag, James....;)
    Hah! :D

    Yeah, they're crazy-ambitious, but also well-connected inside HMX. Any band that's already been on the game discs (even back to GH) is already past the "unknown" status for this audience. The rules are a little different for them.

    - m
  • cherokeesamcherokeesam Washed Up
    edited March 2010
    Markleford;3571465 said:

    (And yes, before people ask, we *would* have given our stuff away for free if it had been an option!)

    - m
    And you wouldn't have been alone.
    There's plenty of bands that would give away free DLC on the RBN and figure (correctly) that the freebies would be worth their weight in gold in terms of promotion and exposure. Give 'em free songs, then get their happy little butts down to your show, THEN let them gladly open their wallets for show tickets and merch.
  • vedisvedis Road Warrior
    edited March 2010
    Markleford;3571465 said:
    And that's what a lot of people don't understand.

    $1 = more ears on your song!

    Then if someone likes your stuff, they'll be more likely to buy your *actual* music or other merch, or go see your show if they're local. And that's profit that's more than the $.30 per dollar RBN will pay you.

    But it's not about the money. It's about capturing the hearts and minds of the listening public. Many of us find that infinitely more valuable.

    (And yes, before people ask, we *would* have given our stuff away for free if it had been an option!)

    - m
    if it was free i woulda picked it up too :) and then all my friends woulda got a listen to it when it went to a rock band night cuz they would see it scrolling through everything and probly take a quick listen.
    when you guys get more songs on there im sure people are going to listen alot more closely too, i mean, when looking through the lists of whats for sale, its hard NOT to notice the groups who have 10+ songs out(yes theres really just 1, and coulton will be on the way there soon too) but you get my point :)
  • jawillroyjawillroy Rising Star
    edited March 2010
    cherokeesam;3571425 said:
    Except....you might want to look up The Main Drag, James....;)
    *splutters and waves hands around head, flushing unattractively*

    DAGbutbutbutAGH you know what I meant. :p Don't pester me with FACTS when I'm blathering, man!

    "So... I don't predict seeing anybody's favorite many albums being released here on the RBN with all the songs at a buck a pop." Aight?

    (The following, Ninja'd by Markleford.)

    But I do suspect they'll be the exception rather than the rule. The Main Drag's on their own imprint, already had a relationship with Harmonix, and appear to be predisposed to such wackiness as this. I hope they sell absolutely oodles, proving me completely wrong, and I hope that their audience explodes exponentially, fueled by the fearsome critical mass of TMD's RBN content.
  • cherokeesamcherokeesam Washed Up
    edited March 2010
    jawillroy;3571494 said:
    *splutters and waves hands around head, flushing unattractively*

    DAGbutbutbutAGH you know what I meant. :p Don't pester me with FACTS when I'm blathering, man!

    "So... I don't predict seeing anybody's favorite many albums being released here on the RBN with all the songs at a buck a pop." Aight?

    (The following, Ninja'd by Markleford.)

    But I do suspect they'll be the exception rather than the rule. The Main Drag's on their own imprint, already had a relationship with Harmonix, and appear to be predisposed to such wackiness as this. I hope they sell absolutely oodles, proving me completely wrong, and I hope that their audience explodes exponentially, fueled by the fearsome critical mass of TMD's RBN content.
    I certainly understand and agree with you, James.

    On the other hand, consider *this* possible scenario, though: some buyers who are only vaguely familiar with a more obscure band that doesn't have any charting hits *might* be more inclined to buy a whole album, rather than downloading demos for a dozen or so songs that they don't even know to cherry-pick the "best" ones.

    I've got a feeling that's why the album strategy could work better for The Main Drag than, say, Blondie (and I'm not saying that just to pick on EMI again.....it's just that yer Average Joe Rock-Bander would find it much easier to be selective about the hits he *knows* from a band like Blondie, as opposed to a whole bunch of songs he's only vaguely familiar with, but wants to support the band who made them.)

    Will be interesting to see how it works out, either way. :) I certainly wish The Main Drag the best. If it pays off, we very well *could* be seeing whole discographies coming to the RBN, including Amberian Dawn....
    AmberianDawn;3568540 said:

    Amberian Dawn wants to thank all of you! It's so great to be part of RBN and see you guys enjoying our songs... it's been amazing seeing you posting songs to youtube and etc. We are truly impressed by your skills! Maybe someday if you are intrested we could have a RBN online gaming session and play with you our songs... so let us know if you are intrested :)

    We are planning soon to release all of our songs... including the new 3rd album.. but it may take some time. We will keep you posted!
  • Santa ClaustrophobiaSanta Claustrophobia Road Warrior
    edited March 2010
    Quazifuji;3571221 said:
    That's what the Slip did, and it seems to have been a good move (with Even Rats being one of the best-selling RBN songs going by leaderboard entries but Children of December not even making the top 30).
    This isn't really proof of anything except that a song that had previous exposure in a similar game was highly sought after and then purchased in large quantity. I would bet money that Cheat on the Church will move units at any price. And so would any other song that was in GH1 or GH2.

    I liked The Slip so much that, when it was released, I bought a copy of Eisenhower mainly on the strength of Even Rats and Children of December. Both songs they had streaming from their website at one point. It's also where I learned about Surprise Me Mr. Davis which is selling far, far worse than CoD. Name recognition isn't everything...

    And last week, All of This was released as 'official' DLC. Another highly anticipated GH1 track. But they also released Tie You Down which is also a fantastic track but selling like crap. I bought both. And both are just a dollar. Price isn't everything...



    What is the point? That as much exposure as some of these bands have received by being in these beloved music rhythm games, there is still no guarantee that unknown music will sell at any price. As much as people liked The Slip or Shaimus, it's not necessarily translating into sales success.

    So why not, as I pointed out earlier, charge $2? There is no guarantee that people will buy a track that they don't know, even if they're personally familiar with your band or some other single. And if that's so, then why not maximise the potential profit if the number of tracks sold isn't going to set the world on fire?

    Being able to give tracks away for free would probably be a better help to move units and create potential fans. But that's not an option. And even being 'official' DLC isn't going to convince people to buy anything.

    Personally, I'm not more or less likely to buy a song at any price. I'm more or less likely to buy a song if I like it. Price is barely a consideration.
  • jeccanekojeccaneko Headliner
    edited March 2010
    jawillroy;3570674 said:

    My guess is that albums sell as DLC:
    A) because they're bundled and can't be cherrypicked
    B) Because the bands chosen for the "album" treatment have a long-established fan base that they can count on to buy everything they put out. (Pixies and RHCP are not exactly scrambling to find ears at this point.)
    For your first point, you can cherry pick. They are sold as an album bundle and separately. The only exception is AC/DC, since that's only sold as a track pack. :)

    Honestly? I'd love it if artists had the option to release songs as packs on RBN. If The Main Drag, as an example, wanted to give people a pack option (with a discount over buying them all separate, kinda like it works for HMX released albums), it would be nice if they could. Or even if artists could do 3 song packs. Unfortunately, that's not an option. Perhaps artists who plan to release a lot of songs should consider that when it comes to pricing, that it may end up expensive for people to buy all of their songs.

    On the other hand, however, there have been people who have ended up only purchasing singles from an album and then buying the rest for HMX released DLC. That means they end up having to pay full price for every song, just like on RBN. So, maybe it depends on the artist, but I don't see anybody necessarily being negatively affected by the limitations of RBN and not being able to package songs together. If you like the artist and songs a lot, it's not so bad having to buy them all individually.
  • lvmathemagicianlvmathemagician Road Warrior
    edited March 2010
    I was once told that if you were trying to sell cigars, and they weren't moving fast, then increase the price. For some reason, people tend to think that higher priced cigars are better cigars. This could be a reason to not sell tracks for $1.00.
  • jawillroyjawillroy Rising Star
    edited March 2010
    jeccaneko;3571785 said:
    For your first point, you can cherry pick. They are sold as an album bundle and separately. The only exception is AC/DC, since that's only sold as a track pack. :)
    Oh, SNAP. Schooled! :o Thanks for the correction. That's surprising. But If I understand the OP, there's a discount for the bundle, but the individual songs don't get discounted: they're still at the regular $2. So if you want to cherrypick, you have to pay full whack... The big guys win again!

    But I'm really curious to see how The Main Drag's "full court press" approach works here. Certainly, a casual browser of the RBN catalogue will quickly become very familiar with the band name, and even if they weren't aware of the band's discography they might well figure hey, these cats are up to something and check it out.

    The real test over time will be to see how much of the fandom here translates to fandom outside Rock Band: how many people who learn about bands here actually drag themselves out to shows, how many actually drag themselves over to bands' websites and iTunes and Amie Street and buy CDs and mp3s and merch.

    One of these days I gotta get me some merch...
  • LoopyChewLoopyChew Wordsmith
    edited March 2010
    lvmathemagician;3571802 said:
    I was once told that if you were trying to sell cigars, and they weren't moving fast, then increase the price. For some reason, people tend to think that higher priced cigars are better cigars. This could be a reason to not sell tracks for $1.00.
    That works for cigars, which are a physical product subject to significant speculation from one cigar to the next (much like how a bottle of wine from the same year and vineyard will USUALLY taste the same, but occasionally will vary depending on things like storage conditions and even the specific grapes used).

    RBN DLC is a try-before-you-buy proposition which you can sample to your liking, and it'll remain consistent and permanent, which are things you can't expect of cigars.
    Santa Claustrophobia;3570650 said:
    Charging less does not automatically mean sales success. Sometimes the higher price means higher profits even at the cost of fewer units moved.
    this one time in third grade we were playing lemonade stand and i charged a million dollars for a glass of lemaonade and i kept waiting and waiting til the end of the month and in the thirid week somebody bought it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Seriously though, this argument is a good one for two-dollar tracks from unknown and more niche artists.
  • SequenceFSequenceF Opening Act
    edited March 2010
    I was going to disagree with the OP, but that's actually kind of a good point and I think that the artists might even make their money back with increased sales.
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