Thursday, June 28, 2012

Louis CK Takes His Act On The Road

We have been fascinated by Louis CK's success selling his latest video directly to his fans.  Now we find he's hard at work on the next phase:  managing his own tour, including selling his own tickets.

What's going on here?

Using ticketing services such as Eventbrite and Etix, performers can take control of the sale of tickets to their fans.  Tired of high service fees and resellers who jack up ticket prices, Louis CK has lined up over 50 performances in 39 cities.

The comedian announced Monday, June 25, that he'll charge a flat, no-fee rate of $45 to all of the shows on a 39-city tour he kicks off in October. Tickets will bypass ticketing services and be available only through

The tweet speaks for itself:  Appearing in venues that hold an average audience of nearly 2,000, 100,000 tickets have been sold in two days.  We now know that this comedian considers his line of work an agrarian occupation:  he develops new material each year by going on the road, then creates a video at the end that he sells.

Here's part of his pitch:

"So here's all where I'm coming on this tour. Click on the right to buy tickets. You can't get them ANYWHERE but here. So no crazy high ticket fees, no scalpers, no annoying emails, no joining a thing that you hate."

Performers interested in this approach can work with the services mentioned and can contact Bitmenu to sell their digital media at

UPDATE (7/2/12):  The Atlantic weighs in with more details.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A New Tone from the RIAA: "Reasonable and Well-Considered"

In a fascinating presentation, the CEO of the RIAA revealed The Music Industry in the Digital Age at the recent Personal Democracy Forum 2012 last week in New York City.

While high-profile copyright infringement litigation has drawn the public spotlight to the organization in recent years, Cary Sherman is sounding a different note, six months into his tenure at RIAA.

What many don't realize is that the vast majority of the sales made in the music industry come from very few, massively popular items.  Of the 77,000 new albums released last year, 80% sold fewer than 100 copies.  94% sold fewer than 1,000.

As Cary suggests 11 minutes into the video, "For all the opportunities for niche, specialized markets where the music is going to be able to find its fan base, what's interesting is that most people download and stream the stuff that is most popular".

Having said that, Cary is reaching out to new distribution methods and platforms.  He suggests that record labels are to recording artists as venture capitalists are to entrepreneurs.  As head of the industry association, he is working to broaden DRM free music distribution and to make it simpler and easier to license music and develop new business models.

Sales of music related products have always been central to Bitmenu's service.  For the vast majority of those producing music, our method of direct sales and delivery should be considered.  We welcome any inquiries at

Friday, June 22, 2012

Celebrities Drive E-Commerce

At Bitmenu we are experimenting with celebrities to sell digital media direct to fans.  Mostly this has been in the form of ebooks and music lessons, but we have entertained discussions of high quality audio files and full-length films.  The key has been to leverage events, such on-stage appearances.  A simple QR code or tweeted message starts the purchase and delivery process.

Think of audiences leaving a concert and buying a video of the signature song being performed just as they saw it.

As reported in Pando Daily, celebrities and their newfound ability to connect with their fans via social media is creating a new wave of commerce.  A snippet:

"In the past, celebrities were only able to communicate with their fans through traditional media. This was limiting, because it was a one-way dialogue, with no opportunity for fans to respond to or interact with them. But today, thanks to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest, celebrities can talk directly to their fans, and can share the products they like, love, and even produce."

Trading Digital Rights and Reselling Content

With so much fear and uncertainty regarding online piracy, content producers and sellers have many issues they face beyond merely promoting and delivering their works.  Increasingly, we see creative new approaches to selling media that generate sustainable businesses.  The idea that buyers might resell works to their own networks - to the benefit of the original Seller - leads to the notion that selling rights to content will become more valuable than the files we deliver now.

Frederic Filoux has some powerful thoughts about trading rights to digital media:

The shift from paid-for files to rights for books or digital contents won’t come easily. As a telco exec told me last week: ‘It took centuries to convince people their money was more secure in a bank than under a mattress; convincing them they should trade ownership foraccess rights will take some time’. But this is the logical way to go.

At Bitmenu, we have designed our systems to recognize rights, files and transactions as separate things.  This means the comments of a college student can be contemplated.

From a college student’s perspective, if the proper actors who see the profit take action, I for one will gladly step up and purchase rights to an etextbook that won’t be made completely obsolete in three months when they come out with a new edition. I am liking the idea already… And then I can re-sell those rights–they may even appreciate while I own them!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Apple Announces Passport at WWDC

48 minutes into this analysis of Monday's Apple announcements, this panel dives into the new Passport app and the implications of Apple's 400Million credit cards being used to purchase in bricks and mortar stores.

On the panel:

In a nutshell, the breath-taking demo was for an airline ticket.  In Apple's on-stage demo, when you buy an airline ticket you will be able to store it in your Passport.  Even if the flight is delayed or the gate changes, the ticket in your Passport will always be up to date.  So, imagine Apple coaxing every store at airports to support Passport as well.  You can then walk around the airport and buy anything with just your iOS device, through your iTunes account.  This takes us back to small paperback-only bookstores in the 1980s opening up first in airports, then spreading from there.

Bitmenu is enabling brick and mortar stores to offer coupons to be redeemed at physical locations in much the same way.  Merchants can welcome new visitors to their store and they can buy on their mobile devices (not just iOS).

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pinterest Targets Social Selling

Bitmenu was designed for use with social media.  Our original idea was to deliver great content to any device through any web-enabled platform.  Since Sellers can place Bitmenu links anywhere, we have see sales through e-commerce sites, blogs, email, YouTube, as well as social networks.  We have provided easy tools to sell through the social streams of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest.

Of these excellent networks, Pinterest provides a compelling sales environment for Bitmenu Sellers to consider.  Sellers can organize boards of offers that persistently give their followers opportunities to purchase and encourage their network of followers and others to "re-pin", comment and buy as well.

Here's an example Pinboard featuring some excellent lessons from Acoustic Guitar magazine, available for sale via Bitmenu links.

To get the most out of Pinterest, consultant Jeff Bullas has written a concise blog post, 10 Creative Ways to Market on Pinterest that should be read by everyone selling through social media.

UPDATE:  An authoritative report was put out by All Things Digital, about why e-commerce is head over heels for Pinterest.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Zappos to Build Las Vegas Campus

While Apple is the clear superstar of bricks and mortar retailing in recent years, we might see something else brewing from Amazon's Zappos subsidiary.  This article tells us to pay attention and watch what develops as Zappos takes over the old City Hall of Las Vegas and creates its own "Sim City", called The Downtown Project.

Here's a snippet:

Zappos has big plans for Downtown Vegas. Huge, in fact. It is moving its headquarters from the suburbs to the former City Hall Downtown, and Hsieh is personally spending $350 million of his own money to make it the most connected, community-driven downtown in the country. Think of an elaborate corporate campus with a hair dresser, a food court, and a gym, and multiply that by 69 gazillion. Zappos’s campus will be Downtown Vegas, and Hsieh is making sure it has everything his employees would need within walking distance.

So while this does not mention a specific shopping venues, it's Las Vegas and it's Zappos.  The project is designed to become a community for Zappos employees and a spawning ground for new businesses.  We think "re-imagining retail" will require experiments such as this.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

"I Don't Know The Answer To Your Question"

This is how Ari Emanuel responded to the issues raised at the recent D10 conference when it comes to generating quality paid content for less than the $2-3 million per episode now required to produce what is on TV today.  While most of the controversy generated by this session deals with copyright infringement, his core argument is a plea for a way that creative people can generate enough money online to justify the kinds of investment in new projects that they now enjoy.  It sounds like he's committed to working on this.

In short, how creators get paid for their premium content needs a new model.

The firestorm erupted when Ari was asked:

"Say someone drives to my house and steals something from me.  You are saying you should hold the car company and the city who makes the road responsible for the crime?"

There will be plenty of talk about how to deal with copyright through methods to police infringement.  At Bitmenu, we have a different idea.  We have put in place methods to monetize redistribution of content.  Why not encourage buyers to tell their friends and get a piece of the action?  Some 2% of our sales come from this method already.  We think it's an idea whose time has come.