The First One’s Free – How To Use Freebies as a Promotions Tool

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If you were alive in the 90s you doubtless remember the item pictured above. It’s an install disk for AOL, or America On Line. The one in the photo is tasked with scaring birds out of someone’s garden by reflecting light at them as it twists in the wind. That freaks birds out big time.

Before everyone’s home was connected directly to the internet, AOL served as a place where people could do internet type things. Looking back, I don’t know why the internet needed a lobby, but apparently it did because AOL was huge.

The only thing bigger than AOL at the time was AOL’s free marketing CDs. The company positively blanketed the face of America, first with install floppy disks, then with CDs. They were everywhere. It seemed like a new disk arrived each day in the mail.

How could any company, even one so large as AOL was at the time, afford to send out that many CDs? Surely they couldn’t be getting enough users by offering freebies to cover the cost of making said freebies. Could they?

They could. Here’s Steve Case, former AOL CEO, talking about the marketing CDs in a TechCrunch article:

“When we went public in 1992 we had less than 200,000 subscribers; a decade later the number was in the 25 million range,” Case recalls.

Freebies worked for AOL, and we here at Set.fm think they’ll work for you too. That’s why we’re now allowing artists to set a minimum price, which can be zero dollars. You’re allowed to use a Name Your Own Price model too, so if people are dying to give you money for your art even though you have your minimum set to zero they absolutely can. Or you can set your minimum to $5.

In this way we are hoping to enable our artists to expand their audience in exactly the way that AOL expanded their market share by over 10,000%.

If you play a show and you think it was really on point, you can share it with other bands in hopes of sharing gigs with them. Or you can send it to club owners to show them you’re professional and have a great following. Or you can share it on social media for potential fans to show them precisely the huge quantity of ass you kick.

No matter what your strategy is, we want to be a key part of it. If you’ve got an idea how we can help, let us know. We’ve got a whole team ready and waiting.

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