Why? Because it’s an opportunity to really enhance that already awesome moment when a fan decides to lay down their hard-earned dough for your music. These days there aren’t too many opportunities for truly independent artists to give their fans’ real bang for their buck — to let them have their cake… and eat it too. Thanks to the web though, because technology is working in vinyl’s favour: digital is to convenience what vinyl is to authenticity.
There’s no way around it — vinyl is more expensive to buy because it’s more expensive to make. We live in an era of convenience where fans expect more value… while also getting it faster and cheaper than last time. As far as we’re concerned, if you want to do the right thing for the fans then give them the best of both worlds: the beautiful sound, sight and experience of a vinyl record paired with the portability and convenience of digital tracks. As much as vinyl rules, they gave up on putting turntables in cars about 50 years ago.
Sure, you’ve got your DIY options: you can manually rip the tracks and toss them onto your website for fans to download. You can even give it away with some cards on your merch table that have a URL on them. All that is great, but we have a point to make– it’s a sub-par experience. It’s like a sundae minus the cherry… or even more accurately, the cherry minus the sundae. Including the download inside the vinyl release is a unique opportunity to give them a real sweet deal that goes beyond the added bonus or the potential likelihood of a sale.
There’s a good article at Sign On San Diego that sheds a little light on this:
For fans, buying the vinyl album, often with a digital download card in it, at a concert or off of a band’s Website, is a way to show pocket book allegiance.
“You give $10 to iTunes, and who knows if the band is getting any of that, but you pay $10 or a little more for the vinyl, with the download card, and you know that much of that money is going to the band,”…
I liken it to that feeling (if you’re young enough to remember) of opening a box of cereal to snag that prize. Not only did you get the toy inside, you got to play with it while you enjoyed a bowl of your favorite sugary breakfast cereal. That’s precisely why you begged your mom to buy it in the first place.
Those moments — that surprise — the elation and warm feeling inside that you would buy that cereal every day for the rest of your life is what we hope to tap into with digital downloads in a vinyl record. It’s like including a hand-written note in the jacket that says “Hey pal, hope you like the record. I figured you’d want to enjoy it on your iPod too, so here you go!”.
That’s priceless. That’s boss. That’s gracious and valuable to the individual who laid out their cash on the merch table to pick up your record and support you. And it’s a prime example of the kind of relationship that artists can have with their fans these days. It’s creative appreciation.
There’s a theory that an important part of vinyl’s resurgence can be attributed to it’s logical marriage to the modern digital music file. It seems a bit backwards that old technology has new technology to thank (in part) for a second kick at the can — these two formats represent polar opposites but somehow make beautiful music together (pun intended).