The New Music Business Model: Imogen Heap

[UPDATE September 2, 2009: Imogen Heap’s album Ellipse debuts at #5 on US Billboard top 200 and #4 on Canadian top 200! Also, related article posted here: http://ow.ly/lmIB]

It’s been a while since someone in the music business impressed me.  Finally, somebody has impressed me so much that it inspired me to launch my long-overdue company website and marketing blog.  This is the story of how one woman and 700,000 (and climbing) followers on Twitter are creating the new music business model.

During the past ten years we’ve seen dramatic shifts in the music business. Since the launch of Napster and other peer to peer sharing sites there’s a growing sense among consumers that music – at least the songs – should be free.  We’ve seen record label executives struggle with the changing environment, we’ve seen some independent artists thrive, and we’ve seen some major-label artists go independent and take advantage of this turn.  Is it that we must give the songs away for free? Or is there some other asset of perceived greater value that we can offer fans, and still successfully sell music?

Enter: Imogen Heap.  Some people may recognize Imogen as the beautiful vocalist of Frou Frou.  Others may be familiar with her song “Hide & Seek” or the song she wrote for The Chronicles of Narnia, Can’t Take it In.” But even if you’ve never heard of her, it’s time to pay attention — Imogen Heap is changing the way business is done.  Or perhaps she’s just bringing music back to its roots — the relationship between musician and fan — and exploiting all the technical advantages available.  In a time when some music industry veterans seem to be afraid of the way technology is changing their business, Imogen Heap is using these technological advances to her advantage.

Chapter 1: Along Came Twitter: This is not to say Heap began her online relationship with her fans on Twitter.  Prior to the emergence of Twitter, Heap maintained a healthy MySpace profile with more than 14 million profile views and 350,000 fans.  She often posted blogs and bulletins and called for fan participation and feedback.

However, Twitter allowed Heap to efficiently update her fans about the making of her new record, Ellipse (release: August 25, 2009).  When I first began following Heap on Twitter she had just over 20,000 followers.  It was the early days of Twitter and while most people were posting their daily whereabouts or the progress they made doing their chores, Heap was chronicling the making of her album, a process that took 2 years. During this time she also purchased the home she grew up in and built a recording studio.  Heap documented all of this on her Twitter profile, making fans part of the process along the way.

Heap not only shared clips of music in progress, images of her recording studio, and the day’s triumphs, she also shared her frustrations, her insecurities, and often sought advice from fans.  In response to the many @replies Heap often received, she thanked her fans repeatedly. She also made it a habit to circle back with fans to let them know what decisions she ended up making upon hearing their input and would often show them the results with pictures, audio, or video.

Chapter 2: vLogging: To complement her dialog with fans on Twitter – and to tell a story with more than 140 characters – Heap maintained a regular video blog on YouTube.  In total, she posted 40 episodes, during the past 2 years, each running between 3 and 12 minutes long. Although, they’re publicly available, Heap’s vLogs make viewers feel like they’ve been invited into her home (indeed, most vLogs are shot in Heap’s home) for an intimate conversation. The vLogs capture Heap’s personality, her fun and celebratory nature, and allow fans to really get to know Heap even though they may never have met her in person.

The vLogs are not solely focused on the making of Ellipse — they include Heap’s adventures in learning how to drive (and passing her driving test);  remodeling her childhood home and turning her former playroom into her studio; and her New Year’s celebration. Each time she posted a vLog, Heap notified fans via Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace.

In March 2009, Heap posted a vLog calling for fans to help create her new press bio. The challenge – all submissions had to be made via Twitter, in the standard sub-140 characters. The final product is quite impressive and can be downloaded here.  Heap makes sure to give credit to the 81 Tweeters who helped co-write (or co-tweet) her new bio.

The result of Heap’s diligent vLogs and authentic fan engagement is a YouTube channel with more than 519,000 views and individual videos with as many as 122,000 views. Most important, each video is accompanied by hundreds of comments from fans expressing their excitement about Heap and the upcoming release of Ellipse, as well as their gratitude.

As fans became more and more engaged in the making of Heap’s album and the virtually, real friendship they shared with her, Heap allowed them to participate even further in the making of Ellipse.

Chapter 3: Flickr: In May 2009, Heap asked fans to submit samples of their work in order to be considered to collaborate with Heap on the album artwork and packaging.  3 fans were chosen to help create the artwork and all fans were asked to submit photographs that could potentially be included in the album packaging.   Heap created a Flickr group and asked fans to tag and submit all entries there.

Specifically, Heap was looking for images that capture the feeling or meaning of specific lyrics from the songs on her new album.  She posted the lyrics for reference, along with detailed instructions on the Flickr page. After sorting through more than 1,000 entries, Heap chose 11 fan-submitted photographs to be included in the final album artwork. Winners receive a cash prize, plus credit on the album.

Chapter 4: Building it Together: What Heap accomplished, all the while making a record, is truly brilliant.  She now has more than 735,000 followers on Twitter, each of whom feels invested in the making of Ellipse and is eagerly awaiting its release.  They’ve been there every step of the way, offered their opinions and insights when asked for advice about songs, helped create Heap’s bio and album art, and were the friends who were always willing to lend an ear… and a hand.

Chapter 5: Taking it Back (With A Little Help From My Friends): The story doesn’t end with the completion of the album.  A new load of work begins when the record is done – promo tours, interviews and radio shows. As part of the promotion machine, labels often send out advance copies of albums to music critics.  In early July one such promo album made its way to eBay. How did Heap find out about this? Twitter, of course.

A fan sent Heap a Tweet and notified her about the eBay auction for her as of yet unreleased album. Heap was outraged, as she puts it, not because she doesn’t want the music to get out there (she wants her fans to have the music), but because some opportunistic person who had nothing to do with the album stood to make a lot of money from its pre-release sale on eBay.  In fact, the man who posted the auction could have made $10,000,000, if only…

After Heap verified that her unreleased album was indeed posted for auction on eBay, she presented her Twitter followers with a little challenge — to make Ellipse “the most bidded-on item ever on eBay.” In typical form, fans responded en masse, bidding Ellipse up to $10,000,000.  Later Heap said, “it was going to be the most expensive album ever bought.”  Soon enough, eBay got wind of this and pulled the auction down.

During a time when many music fans are clamoring for free music, Heap’s fans actually helped ensure her music wasn’t prematurely leaked. As usual, Heap thanked her followers with a Tweet: “Well that was fun! Will get it removed and make sure none of you get bumped off eBay for helping me out there. Love to you! Heap sleep now.”

Chapter 6: Heap TweetUps: Although Heap enlisted her fans to help stop an unauthorized, early release of Ellipse, she continues to do what she can to make sure her fans remain part of the process and hear the music first. During a recent trip to the US, Heap launched “TweetUps” in New York and Los Angeles.

As she said during the Los Angeles TweetUp in early July, for Heap, the final part of the process is when the fans get to hear her music for the first time. Usually, the artist isn’t present in the homes, cars, and offices of fans when they’re listening to the album. Heap wanted to change this and to experience Ellipse through the ears of her Twitter followers.  Heap created the TweetUps so that she could preview her album for the fans who helped make it and who provided support and enthusiasm along the way.

Fans line up for Heap TweetUp, Los Angeles

Fans line up for Heap TweetUp, Los Angeles

The Heap TweetUps took place in small venues in New York and Los Angeles. The time and location of each TweetUp was announced one day prior to each event, on Twitter.  At The Hotel Cafe, in Los Angeles, Heap greeted fans who waited in a line that rounded 2 corners and stretched beyond a city block.  Once inside, fans were treated to an open bar (it was a 21+ event) and then invited to hear Ellipse for the first time.

Heap introduces each song

Heap introduces each song

Heap introduced and discussed the inspiration for each song’s genesis before pushing “play” on iTunes. Then, she stepped out of the light as fans listened for the first time. While music fans can often read or listen to an interview about the making of an album or the inspiration behind their favorite song, it’s rare that they get to sit with their favorite artist, listen to her introduce the music, and be in the room with her while the songs are playing. . .  all before the album is publicly released.  Beyond just playing the songs for the first time, Heap shared what, for her, and her fans was another pivotal experience, bringing the making-of Ellipse full-circle.

Imogen Heap signing autographs for fans after the TweetUp

Imogen Heap signing autographs for fans after the TweetUp

After previewing a handful of songs from the album, Heap offered to meet and sign photos for everybody who attended the TweetUp.  When the venue announced they needed to clear the room so they could prepare for that evening’s shows (the TweetUp took place in the afternoon), the long line of fans awaiting autographs didn’t seem concerned. Through the process of making an album with Heap, they learned she wouldn’t let them down. True to form and putting her fans first, Heap moved the meet & greet to the alley outside the venue. After a busy week of radio interviews and countless meetings, Heap took her time, speaking with and thanking every fan who was there.

Chapter 7: Cafe Heap: Now that the album is finished, the making-of vLog series has obviously come to an end. However, there’s still more to do between now, the album’s official release (August 25, 2009) and Heap’s upcoming tour (TBD beginning November) which means there’s still more for Heap to share with her fans. What else could she possibly do?

Last week Heap announced Heap Cafe – a live video chat that will take place (likely in her living room) weekly.  During the making of Ellipse Heap held a few live chats on uStream, but now she’s formalizing that into a weekly meeting. During her most recent video chat on uStream, Heap played piano and asked fans to chime in and tell her what to play.  “Play it faster,” “play it in the key of A,” “play anything!” the fans furiously typed in their suggestions. It was a fun experiment and another opportunity for fans to literally shape Heap’s music in real-time. All the activity, coupled with uStream’s integrated Twitter application, made #heapstream a trending topic on Twitter.

Heap Cafe will debut this week on a new platform, Vokle. They’re set to take place every Sunday, but there’s been mention that the first chat will take place Thursday, July 23rd. The best way to make sure you don’t miss Heap Cafe? Follow @imogenheap on Twitter.

Chapter 8: The Beginning: With over a month until its official release, Ellipse is currently #39 on the iTunes Top Albums chart. Heap seems to be gaining 1,000+ followers per day on Twitter. Fan enthusiasm continues to climb, with people Tweeting: “I would pay any price for Ellipse,” “finally had to cave & get twitter so i could get @imogenheap ‘s beautiful video,” “Thank you so much for allowing us to download Canvas. It’s such a lovely video. I would have paid many times over to get this.”

People are Tweeting about paying for music?! Imogen Heap has started something…


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80 responses to this post.

  1. Nice work Colette. I think Imogen Heap should be a model for all artists new or old trying to navigate this changing landscape.

    Reply

  2. Posted by nathangarvison on July 21, 2009 at 11:48 am

    ha! that last tweet is mine! that’s funny. i would indeed pay many times over to get this video that is still playing now. @cmyk_nate

    Reply

  3. This was an incredible article! Thank you so much for compiling this. Many of Imogen Heap’s fans are familiar with all of the above practices, individually. Yet to see them all together truly shows her ingenuity, business-savvy, and literal connection to her fans.

    Reply

  4. good summary of everything immi has done!! i’ve been watching her online presence grow for a long time and can’t wait for the album :)

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  5. I was at the NYC Tweetup and thought it was awesome to be invited by Immi and for her to share her work with us in such an intimate setting. It was different than the other 2 live performances I’ve been to because we got to hear the back stories about all the songs. It was well worth the lack of sleep for me (we just arrived in NYC on 7-8-09 and hadn’t slept that night before)! Can’t wait to get Ellipse! :)

    Reply

  6. Thanks for sharing this Colette! I’m a fan of Imogen but was NOT following her on Twitter and somehow missed this…. goes to show how long the setup period for a release SHOULD actually be!

    Reply

  7. [...] Weintraub’s comprehensive post on how Imogen Heap has built a new music business model (find mp3s from Imogen’s 2008 PopTech [...]

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  8. I have loved Imogen Heap from the day I first heard her music. Yes, I love her for her talent, but I am consistently impressed at the way she includes her fans into the creative process. I am honored, humbled, and thoroughly excited to have been chosen as a winner from the Flickr contest and it only makes me anticipate this album even more!!

    Reply

  9. [...] Click here to read about how Imogen Heap is putting the theory into practice. [...]

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  10. interesting model, but it certainly won’t become the norm. certain artists want boundaries between fans, esp when it comes to the creative portion…why would you sub out such work as an artist to fans? seems a bit weird to me.

    Reply

  11. Posted by jorge on August 10, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    What about the music? This article is about marketing, not about music at all. Why do I feel like there’s something wrong with that?

    Reply

    • Posted by Anonymous on September 11, 2009 at 10:31 am

      Why is there anything wrong with that? Music, like any other product, needs to be marketed. I’m sure there are plenty of articles that discuss Heap’s music so it’s refreshing to see what she’s doing on the marketing side. Just the same, there are plenty of articles on CNN Money that simply discuss business or marketing plans with only superficial reference to the development of a company’s products. As an aspiring musician (and therefor an aspiring businessman) it’s incredibly useful to occasionally see how other musicians market their work.

      Reply

  12. Posted by Sara on August 10, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Imogen Heap is definitely creating a new business model for herself, but she’s not the only musical artist to do so. Amanda Palmer, formerly of the Dresden Dolls, has also turned to Twitter as a successful marketing tool (including a live Twitter auction!), used it to arrange tweet-ups and secret shows with fans, hosted chatrooms, etc. It’s exciting to witness musicians take their art directly to the fans!

    Reply

  13. Posted by Ellen on August 10, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Sony BMG, Imogen’s major label backers, will pay for all these sorts of promotional things and bill her for them as recoupables. A new model independent artist will have to approach things differently.

    Reply

    • Posted by expatUSA on August 13, 2009 at 5:23 pm

      Sony BMG will pay for all these promotional things? On what basis? Well considering Twitter is free plus most other online tools, So Sony must be paying for ghost Bloggers and ghost Tweeters?

      The only reason that Ms. Heap is spending most of her current life connecting with her fans is that Sony are more than likely doing a poor job at marketing Ms. Heap themselves. However, if Ms. Heap raises her own profile through her direct marketing and in turn generates a bigger fan base then of course Sony will pay for the extra “expenses.” If Sony was controlling Ms. Heaps “social media” account then I can assure you that Ms Heap would not have so much control over her online personal promotion. Closing your comment with the “poor indie artist” mentality is absolutely ridiculous and is just resting on the “I can’t make a living selling CDs anymore @$35 each. It’s not fair I have to market myself” attitude.

      Reply

  14. Posted by pastel on August 10, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    I am totally, totally impressed. Very creative.

    Reply

  15. Posted by Ellen on August 10, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    p.s. a “model” for it to be anything more than just one person’s way of doing things based on their unique circumstances, needs to be more of a template that can be replicated by many other artists to achieve success. What works here for Imogen requires the support staff and funding of Sony. Amanda Palmer’s keys include having first been given a profile by a label, and, then, harnessing the web power of her bf Neil Gaiman. So, good for Immi and Amanda and their teams building variations on the old label models, and using new technology, but these are not really examples of “new” models for a new generation of artists.

    Reply

  16. Imogen Heap has provided not only inspiration to fans but to many artists. This is a playbook that artists should pay attention to, because this is truly the future. Involve your super fans, give them something special, and they will pay.

    Reply

  17. I found this in-depth article extremely inspiring, useful, and fun to read. Thanks for putting her achievements in such an easy-to-read format. It’s like an instruction book for people like me!

    Super grateful. Now I’m one of the 1000 new tweeps a day, and you’ve earned your blog a new reader as well.

    Reply

  18. While I applaud her effort, let’s be fair: this ‘one woman’ is not creating a new business model all by herself; by now, there are others who have used these and similar techniques as well. Palmer, for starters. Jarvis goes on and on about as much in WWGD, too.

    And, as I’m paraphrasing someone above, this stuff is not entirely w/o cost. It requires a lot of effort.

    Nonetheless, it’s what ya gotta do these days to engage the user/audience. Exciting times…

    Reply

  19. This post has certainly started a lively discussion. But I can’t help but wonder when the music business, artists, and art appreciators became such shrewd cynics, as referenced in many of the above comments.

    1) What ‘rule’ of performance art states that the artist cannot collaborate with the fan? Music is experienced in many different ways, and there is no rigid set of laws governing this so-called boundary between artist and fan. For the artist, expression can be just as much, if not more, about the emotions and imagery evoked by the audience…and the way that expression is interpreted, and then reinterpreted.

    2) Imogen Heap was one of the very first artists on Twitter (years ago!), she saw and used its potential a long time before everyone and their grandma had a Twitter account. She utilized it to quickly hunt down/destroy a leaked copy of her new album. She used it to create a cooperative biography (can you name another artist who has done that?). She has even been invited to tour Twitter HQ and perform a few songs for the staff.

    3) I can only think of a handful of musicians who truly connect with their audience on so many levels. If you followed Imogen 3 years ago, you would know that she was a pioneer in the use of so many new media channels. Name one other artist who has combined Video Blogs, Tweet-ups, Flickr collaboration, interactive Twitter Biography, live video chat streams (where the artist takes audience requests)…if you can name even 1, I will be impressed. But I’d bet money that Imogen did it 1st.

    4) All of the different channels that Imogen has explored do have a cost. Yet, unlike what many said above, that cost is not money. It is only time and committment. What proof does anyone have that Sony BMG paid for the Tweet-ups? They certaintly didn’t finance the Flickr album art project. Or the making/distribution of the 40 Video Blogs (done by a friend with a camera and then posted on YouTube.) Or the live video chats (done by Immi and self-broadcast from her home). Or the Twitter Biography (submitted by fans.) There is no corporate team planning or carrying out every move. Imogen has sole creative control. She has had the innovation to discover and choose zero-cost marketing channels so that as many fans as possible can participate in her art.

    5) This social ‘model’ will not work for everyone. To put it simply, Imogen has done it first and best, no one else will compare. That does not mean that other artists can’t take notes and adapt this to their own careers. Any self-respecting master chef should be ecstatic if their customers are able to reinterpret an original recipe in a new and exciting way.

    Reply

    • Posted by expatUSA on August 13, 2009 at 5:29 pm

      Good response especially to the “oh she is doing well so she must be getting $ from the majors” RIDICULOUS.

      Imogen Heap was connecting with her fans long before social media came along. It was years back that she had a competition online where the lucky winner when to Heaps house and Imogen cooked them dinner right in her own kitchen.

      In the current marketplace when the only artists that seem to be doing well connecting with their fans are the ones at the top of their acts, it’s great to see someone like Imogen Heap come out of the woodwork and show people not only how to connect with your fans but to engage your fans in the creation of your work AND show them how passionate you are about your craft. Just watch her video documentary about her work, she is obsessed with creating music.

      Of course the social “model” won’t work for everyone. Only those who understand it and really want to work at it will make it work.

      The ones that are saying “it won’t work for the indie artist” are more likely the ones that were too used to (and think they still are) making a living with sub standard music on 10 tracks CDs that sell @ $35 each as an “import,” and relied too much on distributors to do all the marketing for them.

      Reply

  20. [...] I was inspired to finally break my web silence on the matter after reading a blog about Imogen Heap’s usage of SM tools (nice piece written by Colette Weintraub of Deep Dive Marketing) to keep her fans engaged with a [...]

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  21. [...] The New Music Business Model: Imogen Heap « Deep Dive Marketing (tags: music marketing twitter business flickr model artists socialmedia promotion band imogen) [...]

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  22. having met/known Imogen for years all i can say is that she’s grace under pressure. I just don’t know where she finds the energy for all this but am super happy that her time/effort invesment is going to pay off big time. it’s not just the money. I want the whole world to listen to her gorgeously textured and evocative music. Am possibly too old to get hooked on tweets and tweetups etc etc, but I can see how it’s the way forward for marketing. Giving it away is the best way.. and then we buy.

    Reply

  23. Imogen and others are catching on to personality driven marketing. Proves people want a relationship with the artists they support. Wish you luck with your projects.

    Reply

  24. Posted by Nancy S. on August 11, 2009 at 9:43 am

    1 – I loved the way you wrote this blog and presented it. Excellent.

    2 – Imogen Heap and Amanda Palmer continue to be heroes of mine. They take responsibility and make it happen.

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m very impressed and hope to find artists that will work as hard as I do to promote their music. Imogen and Amanda really put in that extra effort.

    Reply

  25. Excellent blog. A friend (Jenn Littleton) shared it with me and you’ve done a great job presenting a social media / social marketing case study. For those who can, there are takeaways beyond financing Tweet Ups, etc.. Creating the relationship and nurturing it with a variety of engaging content seems to be the key to me. Offering real, unique value (sincerity, vulnerability, personality, CONSISTENCY) that fans appreciate in whatever form you can is what I take from this.

    Thanks again for posting!

    Reply

  26. @maggie may, i never said there’s a rule about collaborations between artists and their fans, but if you take it too far an extreme, it’s not too long before you land into pandering territory.

    there are definitely prior examples of artists working in a fully autocratic nature but still reliant on their fans, and give back as part of the process. witness the subscriber base that Einsturzende Neubaten successfully used to finance their recordings free from the shackles of any record company. subscribers were treated to exclusive videos of the recording process, mp3 songs of the month, and exclusive cd and dvds which were only available via subscription. similarly, david tibet of Current 93 has been printing donors names into his last couple of releases, and via his Durtro newsletters is in constant contact w/ the fan base. however, fans do not provide any creative content in this relationship, and i’m confident that David and Blixa can create their own recordings and cover art just fine, often alongside some very interesting collaborators (eg, Andrew WK, Lee Perry, Will Oldham, Ben Chasny have all worked on recent C93 records).

    Reply

  27. [...] on August 25.  I won’t go into all the details, you can read the article for yourself on Deep Dive Marketing.  Here’s a [...]

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  28. it’s nice that imogen heap has found a way to stay connected to her fans but she isn’t an independent artist. she is signed to one of the biggest most powerful major labels on the planet with a worldwide pr machine behind her, and a ton of exposure. she has even had a song on a major studio movie soundtrack. more exposure. that’s a far cry from an artist that’s self releasing their cds and playing a local or regional show here and there. comparing the two is like treading water in the ocean and telling yourself it’s just like being in your bathtub. it’s something that a true independent can’t reach for so easily – not without that major label machine in place.

    and she’s not the only one. there are plenty of (some formerly) major label artists who are “reaching out” to their fans via the new media platform. and like i said, that’s nice. but their major label exposure gives them a distinct advantage. it would have been interesting if this article had mentioned and explored that distinction.

    IMHO, a better example of what a truly independent artist/band can do to garner an audience of millions and stay connected to them is dispatch. in 2004, dispatch gave the largest concert in independent music history – over 110,000 people from all over the world came to the hatch shell in boston to watch their final concert. or what about dispatch: zimbabwe? they sold out 3 nights at madison square garden in a matter of hours. now THAT is power. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dispatch_(band)

    as an unsigned independent artist, i’m very much aware of imogen heap and amanda palmer. but without their heavy exposure and their major label pr machine, i’m not so sure that i could do as well as they have.

    Reply

    • I hear ya Queen Esther. Though I agree that majors have an advantage in dollar power, they sure don’t have power in the innovation department. Some of the ideas Imogen uses are straight out of Indie marketing books. I use them myself for artists I work with and they’re pretty effective. You can create a virtual team that has all the power and influence of a major label. Granted, the slope is steeper, but you can create a living from music and it takes adding 3 “True Fans” per day. It takes work to get the exposure, but with all the online resources that are free mine included), you should be able to accomplish what Imogen has – just not on the same scale. Hitch up to smaller active services that can pay attention to you and you can be making a living income. Sure you won’t have ‘Rock Star’ status, but isn’t it worth paying your bills from making music?

      Reply

      • Posted by expatUSA on August 13, 2009 at 5:46 pm

        I agree, I can assure you that all the self promo and social media Ms. Heap is doing is NOT the work of a major.

    • Posted by expatUSA on August 13, 2009 at 5:35 pm

      Of course being signed to a major gives you an advantage but there’s a reason she is signed to a major. Her music is actually good.

      If I started a company selling widgets and no one bought them and I couldn’t get them sold at Walmart and all the big high exposure chains, would I moan and groan about “it’s not fair” or “those other widget manufacturers are only getting exposure because they are in the big chains” NO I would realize that my product is probably crap, I made one good item in the box and all the others were junk, maybe my product looks like everyone elses and my marketing isn’t up to par.

      What is wrong with people in this business when they think they are “entitled” to make dollar after dollar without adapting to market change ? Business is business. Making money is making money. Jeez, you would think we would have VHS tape manufacturers still out there moaning because no one buys any tapes anymore and they can’t make any money.

      Reply

  29. [...] The New Music Business Model: Imogen Heap – Detailed recap of how Imogen Heap is leveraging social media techniques to create a strong and more authentic bond between artist and fan: “Imogen Heap is changing the way business is done. Or perhaps she’s just bringing music back to its roots — the relationship between musician and fan — and exploiting all the technical advantages available. In a time when some music industry veterans seem to be afraid of the way technology is changing their business, Imogen Heap is using these technological advances to her advantage.” [...]

    Reply

  30. [...] recently read two thought-provoking articles about how the music business has changed. One of them is about how musician Imogen Heap has harnessed the Internet, and social networking in particular, [...]

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  31. Posted by Gordon on August 16, 2009 at 7:37 am

    I suspect this technique may not work for the J.D. Salinger type.
    The other aspect of this – as I see it – is that Ms. Heap is doing something unusual on several levels:
    1. She’s ‘marketing product’ whilst retaining all the kudos of a creative artist exploring new territories.
    2. It seems to be her own idea and she’s done it herself: once this becomes standard practice for record promotion, it’ll become as nauseatingly cynical as traditional record company promotion. The sincerity in her approach is a crucial aspect for many music fans. The lack of sincerity when it comes to marketing other artists is a big turn-off.
    3. She’s found a marvellous way to increase her own fame whilst remaining personally grounded, by taking her fans on the ride in a non-patronising way. This is enjoyable for both parties. There is, however, a tricky ground to negotiate here: the worship of a fake friend. Friendship isn’t about the artful creation of the illusion of friendship and – even if one convinces for a period of time – it’s ultimately deception. Thing is, I reckon both Ms Heap and many of her fans both know this. That’s where sincerity comes in and why it would be far more difficult to replicate than it looks.

    Reply

    • Thank you, Gordon. You are correct – the reason this is working for artists like Imogen Heap and Amanda Palmer is because they are sincerely, authentically connecting with their fans. Both Heap and Palmer use a lot of the same platforms to connect with their fans, but by doing so authentically, neither one feels like (nor is) a cookie-cutter marketing plan. They are merely using the available technology to build a sustaining relationship with their fans and their individual personalities come through — Amanda Palmer will stay at your house when she’s passing through town; Imogen Heap will invite you over for dinner (for example).

      If major labels, independent artists, or big brands use these same tactics (and they do) just because it’s “the thing to do,” (i.e. “get this up on Twitter”) without knowing their audience and without taking the time to truly engage them, then it won’t work.

      Yes, as Lefsetz says, it takes a lot of time and effort. But at the end of the day, Heap, Palmer, and several others, are building their personal brand. Should the label deals come to an end, the fans go with the musician – they don’t stay with the label. Even if the label owns the email list, the fans will find their way back to the musician. Building this relationship with fans also supports touring, side projects, and other things that are important to the artist and their fans.

      Reply

  32. Posted by Gordon on August 16, 2009 at 7:47 am

    P.S. I have thousands of CDs from all over the world and music is my greatest passion. How did I discover my favourite artists? By chance and an analysis of song/track titles and album artwork and sleeve-notes (when CDs in shops weren’t sealed up) without hearing any of them first. The joy of it was personal discovery. I might be of an unusual type in this (i.e. ‘statistically insignificant’) but I’ll bet I’m not the only music fan who delights in personal discovery and battles in opposition to things being thrust in their faces. Maybe 1% of advertising introduces an interesting product to me. The other 99% is either ignored or goes down on a mental ‘avoid’ list. But I know, I know, I know… it’s a numbers game. So long as there’s two suggestible people for every one of my type, I presume it still works!!!

    Reply

  33. [...] qui implique son public dans tout le processus artistique et promotionnel de ses créations (cf The New Music Business Model: Imogen Heap), Nine Inch Nails implique les musiciens amateurs parmi son public à le remixer, certains autres [...]

    Reply

  34. [...] which lets her public involve in the artistic and promotional process for her productions (cf The New Music Business Model: Imogen Heap), Trent Reznor allows musicians to remix his music, others are selling learning lessons. Not [...]

    Reply

  35. [...] here (especially on how to use Twitter [...]

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  36. [...] VIEW ARTICLE SOURCE [...]

    Reply

  37. This is such a good article. Good job!! So spot on Imogen Heap has got it right in so many ways. It helps that she was an early bird too (No Pun intended) when it comes to Twitter and blogging throughout the production of her album Speak for yourself. Think she was the first to do that no?

    Reply

  38. [...] The New Music Business Model: Imogen Heap Enter: Imogen Heap. Some people may recognize Imogen as the beautiful vocalist of Frou Frou. Others may be familiar with her song “Hide & Seek” or the song she wrote for The Chronicles of Narnia, “Can’t Take it In.” But even if you’ve never heard of her, it’s time to pay attention — Imogen Heap is changing the way business is done. Or perhaps she’s just bringing music back to its roots — the relationship between musician and fan — and exploiting all the technical advantages available. In a time when some music industry veterans seem to be afraid of the way technology is changing their business, Imogen Heap is using these technological advances to her advantage. [...]

    Reply

  39. For those who asked, “what about the music?!”, I’ve posted the full-length streams of Imogen Heap’s forthcoming album Ellipse here: http://deepdivemarketing.com/2009/08/18/imogen-heap-ellipse-full-album-streaming-here/

    Reply

  40. [...] cet article est librement inspiré d’un article de Deep Dive Marketing Faites [...]

    Reply

  41. Posted by Rich on August 23, 2009 at 9:36 am

    I have to say that I find this story more exhausting than inspiring. While all of this is still novel and fun it’s great. She is a young girl. What happens 10 years from now. Are we as musicians expected to keep this pace for the length of our career? Pander and cater to every fan? It sounds like a gentle form of bribery to me. No doubt that it works but the real question is…is it WORTH it? For some, I suppose so. For me…NOT!!

    Reply

  42. [...] Jagger, New Music Business Model, Prince, Trent Reznor. Leave a Comment A few weeks ago I wrote an article detailing some of the ways Imogen Heap has been engaging with fans and building excitement for her [...]

    Reply

  43. [...] and more are being developed every day. It's all about how you use them. Check out the article here [Read More]. Props to Danny Dee @ Digipendent for putting me on to it. Share and [...]

    Reply

  44. [...] fans is an essential part of being in a band. Collette Weintraub from Deep Dive Marketing had two blog posts last month on Imogen Heap’s impressive use of the Internet to reach out to fans. Weintraub points [...]

    Reply

  45. [...] fans is an essential part of being in a band. Collette Weintraub from Deep Dive Marketing had two blog posts last month on Imogen Heap’s impressive use of the Internet to reach out to fans. Weintraub points [...]

    Reply

  46. Great article! 700,000 followers? Very impressive! This just goes to show what can happen if you include your fanbase in your struggles.

    Reply

  47. [...] only knew about this once a read an article called The New Music Business Model: Imogen Heap at Deep Drive Marketing which is really well written. I recommend you head over to their site and [...]

    Reply

  48. What are the words … super, great idea

    Reply

  49. [...] Thanks to Jesse Barnett for tipping us to Colette Weintraubs’ blog posting that chronicles Imogen’s exploits in new [...]

    Reply

  50. Posted by Patricia on September 5, 2009 at 12:50 am

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    Patricia

    Reply

  51. [...] on Colette Weintraub’s marketing blog, Heap’s online relationship with her fans first started on Myspace. When [...]

    Reply

  52. Fantastic article. I am a huge Imogen Heap fan and lately everything I’m reading about her business savvy and how she innovatively establishes relationships with her fans has made me an even bigger fan.

    Aspiring artists please take note: Imogen Heap is the model for music business DIY success (along with Trent Reznor and Radiohead).

    Reply

  53. [...] record sales, Social Media, Thom Yorke, Trent Reznor. Leave a Comment On July 2oth I published an article about the ways in which musician Imogen Heap is using the internet and social media sites to [...]

    Reply

  54. Posted by Margaret on September 9, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    Margaret

    Reply

  55. Very nice site!

    Reply

  56. Cool site, love the info. I do a lot of research online on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks,

    A definite great read…:)

    -Bill-Bartmann

    Reply

  57. Excellent site, keep up the good work. I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, :)

    A definite great read..

    Reply

  58. [...] – cough – plug], it could be giving people an insight to your life and recording as exemplified by Imogen Heap, it could be stunning artwork/box sets, audio books, it could be your the sharing of your knowledge [...]

    Reply

  59. [...] Twitter:  Nine Inch Nails last show ever, Thom Yorke “secret” show at The Echoplex, Imogen Heap TweetUp, David Gray last-minute show at Hotel Cafe, and Brett Dennen intimate performance at Library [...]

    Reply

  60. [...] The New Music Business Model: Imogen Heap « Deep Dive Marketing – A very thorough account of the many ways Imogen Heap is using different social media services (i.e. Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, uStream) as a cohesive whole to build deeper relationships with her most engaged fans. [...]

    Reply

  61. [...] Furthermore, Katie went into more technical aspects of how these new media models have allowed artist such as Imogen Heap to literally involve her fan base into the entire process of creating a new CD,  her setting up her studio at home and broadcasting to the world most every step of the production details. [...]

    Reply

  62. [...] something originally written by another marketing maven, Collette Weintraub (@collettew) on Deep Dive Marketing. But what I love about Deb’s version is that she also talks about what happened to Collette [...]

    Reply

  63. [...] article called The New Music Business Model: Imogen Heap has been getting a lot of attention lately. Any article with a headline like ‘The New Music [...]

    Reply

  64. This is awesome,love it.

    Reply

  65. [...] på Deep Dive Marketing har skrivit en utmärkt sammanställning om Imogen Heap och detta jag beskriver ovan. Läs gärna och [...]

    Reply

  66. [...] ”This is the story of how one woman and 700,000 (and climbing) followers on Twitter are creating the new music business model”: The new music business model [...]

    Reply

  67. [...] to his fans with the immediacy and hipness of an Imogen Heap. Don’t know her? Dig this blog post on her cutting-edge Twitter-based career, and this video that shows she’s just as hip [...]

    Reply

  68. [...] anticipation for the record.  This so-called ‘new business model’ is described in detail on deepdivemarketing.com, and chronicles the many steps she followed prior to the album’s release.  This includes live [...]

    Reply

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