Conclusions and Recommendations.

This section summarizes the solution by answering the research question: "how can 2AM effectively market their music to fans by using the web?"

The answer is the ecosystem. The ecosystem is an active fanbase which is interconnected through non-linear communication. The role of 2AM is to build, connect, maintain and listen to this ecosystem. Marketing opportunities arise from listening; income is generated by giving the ecosystem what it desires. It's the only model I've come across that fully acknowledges the reality of the digital age and breaks free from the old paradigms of marketing. This means doing a lot more than traditional promotion, but it's a development in business that needs to happen in order to solve the communication problem.

The communication problem in general is a disconnect between the consumer and 'the industry'. Disconnect, as a noun, is a phrase often seen on tech blogs and suggests a technology-caused disconnection of reality between two parties. This disconnect is primarily caused by the changes in the marketing mix's place and is especially visible through the price versus value discussion, which focuses more on the reality of the industry than that of the consumer. Solving this communication problem is done by connecting with fans and using the power of the web and its non-linearity to build the ecosystem described before. This requires disciplines from all over the communication management spectrum such as publicity, for reaching out to bloggers, community management for interacting with your ecosystem, and trend watching and product development for listening to your ecosystem and giving them what they want.

The most important lessons, in my eyes, are the following:

Be remarkable and publish everywhere

In terms of the marketing mix, this covers three fields: place, promotion and product. As the case-studies of Die Antwoord and The Ugly Dance show, being 'a story worth telling' is an important factor in getting discovered. This is in accordance with the opinions of experts such as Seth Godin and Niels Aalberts. 2AM needs to create a story worth telling, by consistently putting someone in the foreground. The shift from Star Tattooed to Miro Gee is already a good sign, but if a producer would not like to be in the foreground that much, you could do what producers Jean-Paul DeCoster and Phil Wilde did, who were the behind the scenes parents of 2Unlimited–one of the most successful eurodance acts of the 90s.

The reality is an environment where you have to compete with free, music is like water, and people have such a huge number of ways to discover new music. So whatever one does, it should be remarkable. It has to stand out like a purple cow, to use Seth Godin's words.

The way the music is presented is just as important as the music itself. The general image, the video, the artwork, even the way of distributing music (see the Nine Inch Nails case-study for an example).

When you're a story worth telling, it has to be easy to stumble upon you and it has to be convenient to actually spread the story.

When people were asked why they were not buying digital music, the reason most often mentioned was that it was easier to just get it from peer-to-peer filesharing networks. One of marketing's biggest clichés is that the customer is king. A more modern version of this would be that a customer is selfish and in the digital age he wants what he wants, the way he wants it and he wants it now.

This approach plays into the trends loss of control, piracy, convenience, word of mouse, economy of abundance, music like water and selfish consumers listed in the problem definition.

Follow me us, it's about retention

Hundreds of thousands of people have heard 2AM's music, perhaps even millions, but with how many of them is 2AM in contact? Every time a person comes in contact with 2AM's music, especially on the web, it's an opportunity for retention and it has to be clear to them where they can find you on the web. It has to be interesting for them to follow you (and your tribe/ecosystem), to subscribe to your Facebook page, your tweets, your blog, your newsletter, but most of all, it has to be convenient.

Every person that hears 2AM's music is a potential customer. Lead them to your newsletter, your Twitter page, your Facebook page...any place where you can stay in contact with them and they can stay in touch with each other.

Remember the concept of Someone Else's Party and Derek Sivers' advice. It has to be fun to join in. The case-studies throughout the solution section show how you can make retention fun for potential fans. For example the case-study of The Ugly Dance, where users started making YouTube videos of themselves doing the dance in real life, and mau5ville, the co-created virtual world of deadmau5 fans.

Connecting with and listening to the ecosystem

Experts like Mike Masnick advocate building and nurturing a strong, personal and genuine connection with fans. Case-studies like the one on Trent Reznor, or the two deadmau5 case-studies show very well how to build this connection and how to protect (nurture) it. Most of the survey respondents, especially Twitter users, indicated that they feel they're more likely to purchase an artists' music after having spoken to them online or in person. So if having fun with your fans is not enough of a motivation; there is also an economic incentive for building this connection.

Fred Wilson, the venture capitalist who has invested in many tech-startups, agrees with Niels Aalberts' advice to try to keep business models out of the door while possible. The idea is to spoil your fans, treat them well, so that it's attractive to join (this ties into the Someone Else's Party concept). The concept of the selfish consumer dictates that business models should come from listening to the non-linear communication of the ecosystem. Listening to the ecosystem reveals the marketing opportunities. Instead of target group research or focus groups, one can simply participate in their ecosystem and manage their community to figure out where the opportunities lie.

The concept of the Economy of Abundance, first mentioned in this thesis by David Hornik, is a great help with this. You can give out great offers to your ecosystem and see which are the most and least popular. The Shpongle & Twisted Music case-study provides a good example of this. Younger Brother, one of Twisted Music's acts, offered all kinds of special products and experiences to their ecosystem. This ties in well with the concept of varying expectations, as put forth in the problem definition. Consumers have different desires for products and prices, so you will have to throw out a whole range of options to be able to cater to their needs. To limit the risk of losing an investment, you can put certain minimum amounts of orders before producing a certain product. This also gives fans mini-achievements they can unlock if they encourage each other to pre-order. The trend of people consuming more digital than physical music, combined with it being easier to set up pre-order templates, reduces the risks and enables 2AM to experiment.

Whatever you do, it has to follow Kevin Kelly's concept of better than free. Use the eight generatives better than free to enable the 'selfish consumer' in getting what he or she desires.

Internet and imeem

During the process of writing this thesis, a music platform with a lot of potential was bought up and closed down. This says something about the internet: do not depend too much on one particular channel. What is popular today might be gone or irrelevant in a few years (or months, or weeks). What is small now, might become huge in a few years, take YouTube for instance. It has only been around for 5 years.

Be flexible.

How can 2AM effectively market their music to fans by using the web...

The Answer Is The Ecosystem


Image Credits

Note: this list excludes book covers and screenshots.

Usage Notes

You are encouraged to share, copy, remix, and adapt this thesis.

  • Images from the thesis are on Flickr, in this folder, and/or listed here.

Design Notes


Designer: Ryan Van Etten ▰ Source: CSSPHP

In March 2011, Bas asked if I'd like to help him turn his 80-page thesis on the music industry into a webpage. It was such cool project, how could I say no? I really wanted to give the thesis its due graphic justice. The idea was make it as open—as free—as possible, and we didn't want to overcomplicate the design. We decided to split the web version into four main sections, using different colors to represent each. I nicknamed the color scheme "Further" or "Swoon" after The Chemical Brothers video that inspired it (1st used here). Equipped with the new elements in HTML5, I set out to code the thesis as semantically as possible. I also wanted to give it a proper responsive design that had great readability on any device. HTML5 Boilerplate, Modernizr, and airve_html_class each played a part in that, and, in optimizing the code for fast page loading. If anyone wants to chat about the design, then please hit me up. Thank you! :) -RVE (@ryanve)

Appendix: Survey

The survey is available at and is copied below.

Fill in the survey and get free music! Hi! I'm Bas and I'm an International Communication Management student from INHOLLAND University Amsterdam, The Netherlands. I'm currently writing my graduation thesis on the Future of Music Distribution and hope you will give me 10 minutes (or so) of your time to participate in this survey. The survey asks questions about how you consume music. As a reward for participating you will get 9 tracks made available by a great variety of artists. One for every minute you spend helping me out. Want to chat about the thesis? The survey? Or feel like telling someone how your day was? Go to my Twitter profile for contact info.


1 Age
Younger than 15

2 Gender

3 In what country do you currently live?
Dropdown list

4 Your primary daily occupation is...
Part-time employee
Full-time employee

5 Pick up to 3 things from the below list to describe yourself and your relation to music.
Musician / artist
Music lover
Music geek
Music professional
Music addict
Just a listener
None of the above, just take me to the survey!

Music Consumption

Statistics from the Recording Industry Associates of America show that the sales of physical CD's is dropping, whereas digital sales are up. What role do you play in this?

6 The last time you've bought a physical CD from a store, whether online or offline, is...
Within the last week
Within the last month
Within the last 3 months
Within the last 6 months
Within the last year
More than a year ago
I've never bought a physical CD before

7 You buy digital music from online stores...
(Almost) daily (go to Q8)
2-5 times per week (go to Q8)
1-5 times per month (go to Q8)
A few times per year (go to Q8)
Never (go to Q9)

8 I have bought digital music online from...
Amazon MP3
Rhapsody Music
Juno Download

9 Why have you never purchased music online? (Check between 1 and 3 answers)
# No credit card
# Easier to download via P2P networks (torrent, limewire, soulseek, etc.)
# I prefer to stream it
# Territorial restrictions, such as iTunes not being available in your country
# I prefer the record store
# Unfamiliar / I'm not sure how it works
# DRM Restrictions (copy protection on music files)
# It's too expensive
# Just haven't done it yet, but maybe soon
# Other:

Free Music

The internet offers various ways to listen to music for free – both legally and illegally.

How do you utilize what new technologies are offering?

10 Nowadays there's hardly a college student left that has never downloaded any music illegally. This usually goes through so-called peer-to-peer filesharing networks such as Limewire, eMule, SoulSeek or BitTorrent networks.

How often do you download music through these filesharing networks?
# (Almost) daily
# 2-5 times per week
# 1-5 times per month
# A few times per year
# Never

11 Streaming music is listening to music online without downloading it. Where do you stream music? (check all that apply)
# YouTube
# MySpace Artist Profiles
# Pandora
# Spotify
# imeem
# iLike
# Musicovery
# Project Playlist
# Napster
# Live stream of a traditional radio station (one that broadcasts on AM or FM)
# Live stream of an online-only radio station (internet radio)
# I haven't listened to music online in the last year
# Other services, like:


Next are a few statements. How do they apply to you? Rate them on a scale of 1 to 5.
1 means it's NOT true for you at all, 5 meaning it completely applies to you.

12 I regularly read blogs about music.

13 - If a friend recommends music to me and supplies a link, I always have a listen.

14 - Downloading music illegally is not as bad as the music industry makes it out to be.

15 - If I have the possibility to download music legally (financial/practical/etc.), then I get all my digital music that way.

16 - One US dollar ($1.-) is not too much to ask for a song.

17 - It's more important to me to attend an artist's live show than it is to acquire their music legally.

18 - If I have exchanged a few words with an artist, whether in person or via the internet, I'm more likely to buy their music.

19 - I am more likely to buy music via the profile or website of an artist, than I am from a catalogue of an online music store.

20 - I generally know which labels my favourite artists are signed to.

21 - It's important for me to buy music from unsigned artists.

22 - It's important for me to buy music from artists signed to major labels.

Social networks

23 How often do you use social networks? (eg. MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Hi5)

# Multiple times per day
# Once per day (per network)
# 2-5 times per week
# 1-5 times per month
# Less than once a month (skip Q24)

24 Of the listed social networks, which do you use most? Rank them in order of use.

If you don't use a particular network, don't rank it. Rank at least 1 item, max. 5.

# MySpace
# Facebook
# Twitter
# Windows Live Spaces
# Hyves
# Habbo
# Friendster
# Hi5
# Xanga
# ReverbNation
# Second Life
# Orkut
# imeem


25 What styles of music do you generally listen to? (check any that apply)
# Pop/Chart # Folk/Country
# Rock/Alternative # Soul
# Electronic Dance Music # World
# Rap/Hip-hop # Experimental
# R&B/Urban # Other:
# Classical
# Jazz
# Blues
# Reggae

26 What are the main ways in which you discover music? (Check between 1 and 3 answers)
# Internet (go to Q27)
# Radio
# Clubs, bars, restaurants, parties
# At friends' places
# Record store
# Television
# Print media (Magazines, Newspapers)
# Other:

27 What are the main ways in which you discover new music via the Internet?
(check between 1 and 3 answers)
# Music discovery apps (like, Musicovery, Pandora)
# Friends (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Email)
# Blogs
# Browsing YouTube
# Browsing digital music stores (Amazon, eMusic)
# Browsing music sites (Soundcloud, MySpace, imeem, Reverbnation)
# P2P Networks (Limewire, The Pirate Bay (Torrents), Soulseek)
# Static internet radio (ShoutCast,,
# Other:

28 Where do you generally listen to music attentively? (Attentive meaning “while paying attention”; where do you listen to music actively, as opposed to passively?) check any that apply
# At work (fill in Q29)
# At home (fill in Q30)
# Commuting (traveling to/from work or school) (fill in Q31)
# Outside (like: fitness, shopping) (fill in Q32)
# Other:

29 What do you generally use when listening to music at work? Check between 1 and 3 answers
# Downloaded music on a computer
# Streaming music on a computer
# CD player in computer or stereo
# Television
# Radio
# MP3 Player / Mobile device
# Other:

30 What do you generally use when listening to music at home? Check between 1 and 3 answers
# Downloaded music on a computer
# Streaming music on a computer
# CD player in computer or stereo
# Television
# Radio
# MP3 Player / Mobile device
# Other:

31 What do you generally use when listening to music while commuting? Check between 1 and 3 answers
# Music player (eg. iPod/MP3 Player)
# Music stored on mobile device (eg. mobile phone, handheld, smartphone)
# Streaming music via mobile device
# Radio via mobile device
# Car radio
# Car CD player
# Car digital music player
# Other:

32 What do you generally use to listen to music actively while outside? This can be during fitness activities like running, while shopping, or other activities that do not include commuting or travelling from one point to another. Check between 1 and 3 answers
# Music player (eg. iPod/MP3 Player)
# Music stored on mobile device (eg. mobile phone, handheld, smartphone)
# Streaming music via mobile device
# Radio via mobile device
# Portable computer (eg. laptop, notebook)
# Other:

Final Q's!

These are all optional!

33 Where did you find out about this survey?
# Via Facebook
# Via MySpace
# Via Twitter
# Via StumbleUpon
# Via a Blog
# Via Email
# Via an Instant Messenger (eg. Skype, MSN Messenger, etc.)
# Other
# No answer

34 Have you heard of vocal house music project Star Tattooed?
# Yes
# No
# Not sure
# No answer

35 Any comments? If no, leave empty.


36 If you would like to stay informed about the results of this survey and the thesis, please enter your email address below.

Small textbox.

Thank you for participating. Click here for your free music! If you want to share this music with your friends, please encourage them to fill out the survey! :-) Please share this survey with your Facebook or Twitter friends and give them some free music in the process! ;-) Seriously though, you'd be doing me a huge favour!