Can You End Piracy By Rewarding Music Buyers? Nope.

I can across an interesting article that touches on how a new program called “Tell My Friends” is pitching using it’s affiliate sales feature as a way to combat piracy. At first glance it sounds like it could be a good idea – what better way to get people who don’t want to pay for your music than to actually give them money to promote your music?

But the more I think about it – the more I think the logic is severely flawed.

First of all, the mindset of people who want free music is that they want it now, they want it free and they don’t want to have to work for it. I’m guessing there would be additional hoops to jump through to sign up for the affiliate program; there usually is. The type of person who is gladly pirating music might not be bothered without a considerable bribe for their time.

Number two – there’s not a lot of money to be made selling music. What’s the affiliate payout on a 99 cent download anyway? Fifty cents? Seventy-five? How many downloads would you have to sell before you could buy a beer or even a cup of coffee? Also – when does the payout happen? In two weeks? 30 days or six weeks? I find it hard to believe that someone with the pirating mindset would put in this much effort for this little reward.

Number-three – affiliate marketing isn’t easy. It’s not like you just share a link and everyone in the world is going to purchase from you. If that was the case, wouldn’t you rather be selling high-end expensive gadgets like ipads, musical instruments and computers that could payout hundreds of dollars per sale instead of 50 cents?

There’s no way that offering an affiliate program (for those who bother to sign up) is going to reduce piracy at all. I think there is a place to use affiliate tools to promote your music, but you’d have to target an altogether different audience – your biggest fans and even better – other awesome bands in your genre who have a lot of followers that they can promote your music to. Affiliate marketing makes a lot more sense as a “one t0 many” approach versus a “one to one” approach – meaning if another band promoted your music to their list of 10,000 fans there would be a much higher possibility of a reward for a slight degree of effort (maybe an email or two.).

That’s all I have to say about ending piracy by rewarding music buyers – not gonna happen!

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