D.I.Y.

One Band Confronts Industry Barrier With Unique Working Wage Revenue Model

3[UPDATED] In an effort to overcome industry barriers and cultivate a sustainable living from their music, the Australian metal band Ne Obliviscaris is working to develop a sustainable working wage revenue model, funded exclusively through fans on Patreon.

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Guest Post by Diana Hereld of Pathways in Music

Last year Amanda Palmer made headlines when she took to crowdfunding once again by joining with Patreon, an ever-growing revenue model of fan-artist support. A year later, she’s virtually high-fiving a group of Australian rockers for doing the same.

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In 2014, Australian progressive metal band Ne Obliviscaris set out to raise $40,000 to fund a world tour. They reached their goal in less than two days, setting a record in music-related crowdfunding when they raised over $86,000.

Now, Ne Obliviscaris take their crowd funding success farther with what they call “The Ne Obluminati,” a unique and successful model to keep their band at a working wage outside of “music industry” standards. Wanting to devote their lives solely to making music, they enlisted Patreon to raise just enough money to pay all six of the band members a minimum wage, directly from their fans alone – and they're not far off.

 The band describes in their Patreon statement:

“We have inherited a broken system that is no longer what is once was, yet has not found a definitive new way forward. A system where only the biggest of the big bands are able to make a living and the rest of us sacrifice our whole lives and risk financial ruin every step of the way…we want to create an interactive fan experience unlike any band that has come before us.”

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The fan experience to which NeO refers is quite simply the provision of exclusive content like pre-sale tickets, interactive tour diaries, VIP access, dinner with the band, and instrumental video tutorials by the band in exchange for a monthly commitment to ongoing support. With this support, NeO will not only avoid going in the red as a band, but actually make money so that they can pay rent, mortgages, or contribute to supporting their families. 

After one month of turning to the fan subscription platform, the band is just 60% shy of bringing in $12,703 per month exclusively through Patreon.

The success of the campaign’s tenacious “evolve or perish” model is receiving well-deserved attention throughout the music community, especially among other artists reaching out to Ne Obliviscaris for advice and assistance on how to set up their own campaign. Ne Obliviscaris's lead singer and violinist Tim Charles is helping to several prominent bands set up their own Patreon platforms as they continue to receive encouragement from bands and managers including Cradle of Filth, the manager for Opeth, and many more.

When the band’s Facebook post to start a discussion on the topic quickly received over 300,000 views and shares, their crowdfunding idea solidified:

“People want to see us succeed. We have a lot of fans that invested financially in the band so that we could tour – so they could come see us play. The reality of how strong that support was really showed us that when given the opportunity, our fans could make it happen. To see how engaged people are in our social media…one of the things we worked out over time: We have 69,000 fans on our FB page alone – all who like what we do and want to see us succeed, and don’t want to see us break up because we’re broke…Fans are the ones – no matter which way you do it – who pay for the salaries of the bands.”

Crowdfunding is nothing new, but recurring revenue services like fan membership or band subscriptions propose a solution that could provide answers to critical industry needs.

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Season of Mist’s Gordon Conrad might put it best:

"In the new music paradigm, the connection between fan and artist is of critical importance. The strength of that connection is what will ultimately allow independent artists to navigate the ever-changing waters of the global music business. To that end, Ne Obliviscaris should be applauded for presenting a new way forward; one that wipes away the layers of business between band and artists, and gives fans and supporters the ability to support and communicate with their chosen favorite music makers to maximum levels. This is a refreshing new alternative and beacon of hope for artists of every stripe.”

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