(UPDATED) What is a fan worth? It's a an increasingly complex and important question to answer; particularly with a myriad revenue streams, free or freemium the new normal and underwhelming payments from streaming. Music sales and marketing platform Topspin has launched a new feature to try to provide the answer; and their data shows just how much the value of each fan varies from artist to artist. Some examples:
- a fan who gives Arcade Fire their email address spend and average of $6.26 to buy music, merchandise and tickets directly from the band over the lifetime of their relationship.
- A fan of Sigur Ros who shares an email is worth on average $10.91
- Pixies fans are valued at $4.29
- Umphrey's McGee fans are worth $32.96 each to the band
Data From 70,000 Artists
Topspin says it now manages online stores for more than 70,000 artists; and of those, the average fan who shares an email address for a track is worth $3.78 over the lifetime of the relationship. That's about 4 times the profit that a band makes from the sale of a download on iTunes. If that's not enough to convince an artist to trade tracks for emails, fans who get free music for sharing their email address were 11 times more likely to make future purchases directly from the artist than fans who got nothing.
The new Topspin feature tracks the average value of the artist's email addresses. The two new stats track the average value of all fans vs. the value of fans acquired through a Topspin campaign. The later calculation is a division of revenue into emails acquired through Topspin and other channels. (More on the methodology and best practices here.)
Another View: Brands Value Fans More
ReverbNation, a Topsspin competitor with 3 million artists on their platform, sees the value of a fan and their email address as better measured and monetized by brands willing to pay to reach them. "The value of a fan isn't so much in what they're going to buy": ReverbNation CEO Michael Doernberg told the Wall Street Journal. "Fans have become a currency that bands can use to land corporate sponsorships and synchronization deals that put their songs on commercials, videogames and TV shows."
Regardless Of Strategy
Whatever the monetization strategy - and likely there should be many - it's the power of the direct fan relationship and line of communication that matters most. "If you can sell shows without paying for advertising," said Topspin client Richard Jones, who manages the Pixies, "the band makes a lot more money."