Island Records

Help Portishead Find a New Business Model

Cameron Parkins, February 17th, 2009

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portishead @ atp, obo-bobolina | CC BY-NC

Portishead, an experimental-pop group and pioneers of the early 90s electronica movement, announced yesterday that they are now “free agents”, having completed their three record deal with Island Records. The band is looking at new ways to sell their music and are reaching out to their fans for advice:

with the world being the way it is there are lots of options open……but if you lot have any bright ideas of how we should sell our music in the future lets us know , why not!

i dont think that were into giving out music away for free to be honest…it [...] takes ages to write and we have to heat our swimming pools…..!!!

While Portishead mention an aversion to giving away music for free, our thoughts immediately turned to a CC+ licensing model similar to what Nine Inch Nails used in marketing Ghosts I-IV and The Slip this past year. NIN gave away their music for free under a CC BY-NC-SA license, but they also found immediate and substantial financial return as well as seeing their long-term sales flourish.

NIN achieved this by selling different versions of the same content; there was the initial free download of the first nine tracks of Ghosts, but fans could also purchase a $5 download of the whole album, a $10 2xCD set, a $75 DVD box set, and finally, a limited edition $300 ultra-deluxe box set signed and numbered by Trent himself, all of it CC licensed. Given the notoriety of Portishead fans, something tells us that if the band were to offer a $300 unreleased album in an ultra-deluxe box set in conjunction with freely licensed versions of the same music, it would probably sell out just as quick as NIN’s 2,500 copies did.

So let Portishead know that there are indeed ways to make money while giving music away for free – its all about connecting with their fans via CC, and giving them an easy way to support the band.

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