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Brian Hazard

Great article Benji!

I know personally, when the able is finally out, it feels like the close of a chapter - the medal at the end of the race. It makes a lot of sense to take the fans along for the ride when enthusiasm is at its height.

Catherine Hol

I love the distinction between 'fans' and 'consumers', although I've always preferred the term 'music lover' to 'fan'. What you've said here makes perfect sense, and obviously you speak from experience of what works.

You say you're a fan yourself, with "zero interest in the consumer experience" - I'm just curious to know whether you use Spotify or similar streaming service?


Thanks Brian!)


Hi Catherine,
Yeah I'm not too big on the streaming side of things. See: http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2012/06/how-streaming-services-could-help-artists-fans-labels-charities-and-the-music-industry-as-a-whole.html but I am hoping that things will change.
At the moment I use Rdio sometimes, Pandora sometimes (though I may cancel shortly) but mostly I buy to support.

Jeff "fuzzy" Wenzel

Great article here. You should check out

www.grooveboxstudios.com to watch us help bands grow intimate relationships with their fan bases.

Ryan Racine

I think it's a great idea, and there are definitely artists I would want that experience with. Unfortunately it only works for those that have the die-hard fan base who are interested. How do you earn these fans without first treating people as consumers? "Listen to my new track", "come to my show" etc.

Mike Baker

Excellent piece, Benji - thanks.

Something about the way you articulated the specific elements that could be a part of this type of campaign, as well as your obvious passion for connecting with your favorite artists this way, really brings the possibilities of this type of approach into focus.

I agree with Ryan, though, that it's easiest to see how this works for artists with a sizeable and committed fan base. Do you have any data to share from Pledge Music regarding successes by bands with smaller followings?


I think the definition of 'fan' has to change. Instead of 'How do you earn fans' it should be 'How do you earn friends?' Fans don't want to be just fans, they want to feel important. Like the "Band-aids" in Almost Famous

In which case, it's easy to make a fan base. You share things with them, you cultivate a real relationship. Artists need to get on board with the idea first and not sound like their marketing themselves. They need to seek genuine connection with people who like their music.

It's like any friendship that begins with a circumstance -an introduction or a thing in common. In this case, the circumstance is the person discovering the artist's music. That's the introduction. At that point, the artist has the listener's trust and attention. Then he adds them to their tribe.

It's quite easy, I think, we just haven't seen it yet so we don't know what it looks like.

I'm apart of a tribe like this, of people who all share something in common. I'm not just paying for access to the artist, but for the other people, too.

All the artist has to do is decide how much they want to make every month. If you're realistic about it, then a sustainable model can be made with even a small fan base of dedicated subscribers.

That is what I am planning on making.


Your a consumer who is made to feel like a fan by a marketing technique. And then someone else wants ten thousand 'friends' who are also consumers who are made to feel like friends, also with a marketing technique.

Apart from the basic dishonesty of the proposal it's just not practical - how many people do you count as true friends? How many 'special' fans can you please without patronising them? If they're really your friends why are you trying to sell them something?

This is the kind of innovation that is only innovation in that the innovative thing is it's being sold as innovative when it's as old as bobby soxers. And the catholic church. (You get a little piece of the special person, every time you show him how much you love him).

Yannick, the GeneralEclectic

Finally, the difference between fans, music lovers and consumers is being grasped by music marketing. The 3 all need different kinds of messages to attract them. I'm not saying which because they are different for each artist. The kind of people which are represented by the term fans are the types who are hyped up by every message they get whereas consumers usually are somewhat blah and/or bored and are merely the types who succumb to pressure from marketing. The whole spectrum of other people in between these extreme types are the music lovers. They are the ones for which marketing needs to be clever to attract them, where the individual messages count which are being sent. Stuff like "Musician A and Musician B have been with us in the studio" can decide a purchase for one music lover whilst "Look! Here's our new video!" will do it for another. So it's probably best not to be one-dimensional here but imaginative. "Written two new songs today, may or may not record them later" is better for creating interest for some people than "The new EP by artist X has got an amazing bonus track at Retailer A, an even more amazing but different bonus track at Retailer B and an awesome bonus track at Retailer C".

Besides that, the concept of pre-order is kind of outdated in a world where there is no scarcity of a release in the first week because you could theoretically sell an endless number of a download during the first week. Of course, fans (as characterized above) will eat it, but all others won't. To some in the audience, it may only be part of the concept for crowd funding of a recording project these days whereas for others, it's just pointless for the reason mentioned before. So why stick to it?

Most independent releases and self-released music only do well in the market place if they are "growers" both stylistically (content-wise) and are promoted by word of mouth. Why not get more into this instead of promoting the outdated concept of pre-order to artists which may still hold a promise of a big payout at release time for nostalgic reasons, but usually doesn't keep it anymore?

But even worse, from a music lover's perspective, is getting spoon-fed a new album track by track, and then not making it to the full track list because the artist or management believes it's not worth it putting out the whole album due to people not having reacted to the individual tracks as expected. Maybe the audience was just waiting for the full-length? It's not too late to actually put it out then and work it from there. If the album is a "grower" stylistically, word of mouth will spread the news to more and more people if it's being well nurtured and encouraged. Unfortunately, too many self-releasing artists have lost patience in their project too soon and abandoned it only for it to remain in the archives. That's sad (even though the major labels probably think different because that's exactly where they want their competition to remain: locked away in an archive somewhere).


Sorry for the late reply Mike,

One interesting thing we've found is that the spend per fan is in fact higher for smaller artists. Add to this that a smaller artist can also be more creative and hands on with what they offer where as a larger artists due to sheer volume can't be. I always say that someone with 50 really hardcore fans is in a great place to make 50 more fans as he or she can reach all of their fans. Once you get to a certain size it becomes harder to reach them all. (i.e. Facebook reach issues). One of the things that is deeply felt at Pledge is that we work just as hard for artists who are starting as we do for the larger artists. It's about making great things. Smaller is sometimes much easier and so very rewarding for fans who can be a part of their artist getting to the next level and not just helping their larger artist stay where they are if you know what I mean.


Hey Tim,
What is truly better value for money? A download of an album for $10 that you can listen to or 3-4 months of exclusive behind the scenes access to the artists fan only updates, videos, blogs photos etc created just for the fans AND a digital download of the album for $10?

It's not dishonest if it's being made for the people who are pledging for it. You are saying on the one hand! If you are a consumer you can just line up to buy it with everyone else. If you are a fan you can come along for the ride. It's about options.

It's only dishonest if it's not true...

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