Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tales of the new music industry model: Wonderlick

Add to the tales of the new music industry model (coming someday in the future to a wireless card near you), the saga of California indie band Wonderlick's new album.

Wonderlick recently conducted an "extremely successful" fan pre-order campaign on their forthcoming album Topless At The Arco Arena. The band ran a month-long pre-order offer via their Web site which allowed fans to set their own price for the album, with an additional incentive offered to fans who paid median price or higher: a thank-you by name in the album package. The final median price was $29.13. The low price paid was $5, and the high price paid was $500. Several fans paid over $100 for the disc.

Says band member Tim Quirk: “I wasn’t too worried about people paying less than the CDs themselves cost, but I was completely unprepared for just how generous fans were. When the first $30 payment came in, that was pretty cool. Then they just kept getting higher -- $45, $50, $100. I’m writing them all personal thank you notes, like my grandma taught me.”

Topless At The Arco Arena will be released on July 7, 2009 via Missing Piece/Rock Ridge Music. According to Quirk, the record, “examines the intersection of art and commerce from people who have been on every side of it.” In fact, Quirk and bandmate Jay Blumenfield both have successful careers in other endeavors: Tim is VP, Programming of Rhapsody and Jay is a TV producer and video director. Wonderlick has experimented with the donations-for-downloads approach previously while posting songs from their former group Too Much Joy. Based on the response this time around they seem to be onto something -- at least for their own small niche in the great big Wild West that is the music industry today.

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