Saturday, February 06, 2010

Einstuerzende Neubauten

A lot of us are thinking about monetizing models for the Net Age. A comment under that article has some interesting data. Andrew wrote:
Slightly less drastic than the ransom model, but similar, is the subscription model, as practiced by the German avant-garde band Einstuerzende Neubauten. They've been going about 30 years now, and have a hard core of followers as well as a fuzzier halo of more casual listeners.
In 2002 they ditched the record companies and switched to subscriptions. The idea was, you subscribed to the next album, and thus paid for them to make it.
In return you got a special edition of the finished CD before the normal edition hit the shops, and access to freebie content on their website, e.g. interviews, live studio webcams, bonus tracks, outtakes etc. You also got the chance to go to supporters-only gigs and other events.
Since then they've released several albums and DVDs, and toured almost every year, playing in decent-sized venues like the Forum in London as well as much larger events like the All Tomorrow's Parties festival. So it must be working for them.
Perhaps authors with existing followings can work along similar lines?
(See: Wikipedia, and

Sounds clever.
If I were them, I'd send out the special content on a DVD along with the CD, instead of putting it on the site. It would not cost much more (less than a dollar per subscriber), but it would feel a lot more special to the subscribers.

Another commenter, Robert, says:
Where does the 3-500 pages format come from? It must have something to do with the limitations/advatages of the printing process.
Perhaps online a different model is needed?

Good point. My feeling is that it would be better to sell a novel in short-story chunks, perhaps ten thousand words at a time, for two bucks each perhaps. It would also encourage the writer to keep the story interesting, something a novelist sometimes forgets in the middle of a 600-page tome!

And I feel it might be wise to work on many different levels. For sure, there needs to be lots of free content, it's the best way to attract new readers/viewers. And then two more levels, where people can buy online content according to how strong fans they are. And then a level of physical content for hardcore fans who want something special, something they can place on their shelf. And a super-exclusive level of that, with the object being signed, perhaps in a special edition (extra nice binding or something).
(This is a development of what the book industry is already doing with paperbacks and hardbacks. A hardback is not much more expensive to produce, but sells for much higher price, early, to the real fan.)

Re micro-payments, I was once convinced that this was a great solution to many things. But I actually used them on a part of Domai for a while (via the bygone Bitpass system), and I found that, unexpectedly, that a 500-picture collection at $5 sold much better than separate 50-picture collections at $0.50, despite the per-picture price being the same! It seems that there is a minimum value at which buyers "can be bothered" to buy.


Sam Pieter said...

OMG it must have been more than 25 years ago that I heard them for the last time...! I'm checking them out right now

Anonymous said...

South African singer Verity did this; pre-selling 2,000 copies of her CD to raise the funds for its production and raising R30,000 for charity along the way.

Unknown said...

I believe the band Marillion has been doing the same thing.

Anna said...

From my experience, hardback IS expensive. Ok, I printed only one book in my life, : hardback, 80 pages, beautiful paper, some colored pictures.

The hardback cost more than the pages of the book. It was quite amazing to see that.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

All right, but when you consider a large volume of books, then the difference in production price is much smaller than the difference in sales price. The profit margin is much larger for hardbacks is what I'm saying.

Alex said...

I only saw EN on "The Tube", I believe they were doing a special on Eastern Block industrial rock. I remember getting hold of one of their albums. I should look them up again, an interesting band.

Esri Rose said...

"If I were them, I'd send out the special content on a DVD along with the CD, instead of putting it on the site. It would not cost much more (less than a dollar per subscriber), but it would feel a lot more special to the subscribers."

The thing is, unless you want to deal with the various requirements of international shipping, you necessarily limit your audience to your country. With downloads, it's the same amount of work for you, regardless of where they are.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

International shipping is not tough for small items, it's just a letter.

For bigger items, I'd use UPS. Cost a bit more than the PO, but way easier, and no lines.

For big items, the receiver may have to pay import tax, that's just a sour fact of life.

groove68 said...

Watch rare footage of Neubauten in the 1985 documentary Berlin Now

video on demand stream

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