Thursday, December 31, 2009

Subscribe or DIE!

Well here we are just hours away from 2010. What will the new year enlighten us with in terms of a new music business? From my stand point, it would seem that every year it gets increasingly more difficult to successfully have a career playing music. Now sure, there are some exceptions I imagine, but I am just speaking generally.

I do not have all the answers. Anyone that claims they do is totally full of shit. All any of us have are simply predictions. So, why not, here is mine.

Subscription based band websites. Yes, I know this is not a new idea and I am not claiming to be Columbus of music biz 2.0. When I say "subscription", I am not referring to Napster, Spotify etc. I am talking about individual bands having their own living and breathing sites full of fresh, constantly updated content that simply caters to the fans and their requests, needs, wants, etc.

The one thing that is for certain, looking at the NIN and Radiohead models for example, is that not every band will see rewards from similar strategies. Bands will have to be willing to experiment and expect to do a substantial amount of trial and error.

For the cost of a CD, I would probably be more than willing to subscribe annually to my fav bands and artists if in return I received MP3's, exclusive content, 1 on 1 interaction, exclusive merchandise, concert ticket pre sales, etc. The list of options is endless. Is this also of interest to you? How about from a band perspective. Would your fans be into something like this?

Anyway... I will leave you with a quote from Bob Lefsets that I stumbled upon today that was somewhat of the inspiration for this post:
"Really, think about this. In a world of unlimited options, that’s just what you are, another option. You’re a speck in the firmament. You’re making less money not because people are stealing, but because you just can’t get enough people to pay attention. That’s what you’re fighting for, ongoing attention. With the emphasis on "ongoing". If it’s momentary, it’s meaningless. Stunting is worthless. You’ve got to campaign endlessly, slog ad infinitum. Continually release music, continually engage your audience."


  1. Great post.

    I love the idea of subscribing to a band's site. A favorite author of mine does a similar thing: For $12 a year, you get an exclusive short story every month from him (there are also additional levels of membership, for different costs and benefits). The interaction is the coolest part of it.

    Guys like you who are thinking about stuff like this will probably continue making a living with music. The ones who stick with the tried and true, and refuse to evolve will not.

  2. I think this is a good idea, but at the same time I think bands would just set themselves up for failure with it. I don't have all the answers either and I'm not trying to be negative, but based on what I've seen since things started to go downhill for music in general, here are a few things I can throw out there...

    The idea of 1 on 1 interaction (or being able to have a more intimate connection with fans) was the original intent of Myspace (if anyone remembers that). Most bands don't even run their own damn pages anymore, making that a moot point.

    Exclusive content and mp3's? Lamb of God tried that, and that stuff was leaked online as soon as it went up, killing any kind of exclusivity it had (though I would imagine watermarking could eliminate that to some degree for exclusive mp3's. But then there's the issue of getting around privacy rights, right?)

    Exclusive merchandise and concert ticket pre sales sounds great. But to pay a fee just to have a chance at that? That's like paying extra for merch and tickets, probably not the best way to 'reward' loyal fans.

    As you said though, the list of options is endless and with the exception of the already extremely successful entertainers out there, bands/artists are definitely going to have to get creative as hell and deal with trial and error as best they can in order to maintain a career in music moving forward.