Music Marketing

Why Paying Your Fans Is A Bad Idea


logo-audimated is a
new social media site for independent musicians and fans; they want to
help artists make more money with their music, and give
a financial incentive to promote the artists they
support. What's wrong with this?

For simple, straightforward tasks "if-then" rewards, like financial incentives, work outstanding.  Such would be the case if an artist paid their fans to Tweet a song or post something on their Facebook.  But when the task gets more complicated, when it requires some conceptual, creative thinking—those motivators don't work.

The founding principle behind the work of author Dan Pink says that, "Higher incentives leads to worse performance." Often times, when artists are asking their true fans for help in promoting their music, they need all the conceptual, creative thinking help they can get.  Right? That's what marketing music requires.

If you want compliance, pay your fans. If, instead, you wanted engagement, like most artists do, fans have to be intrinsically motivated. This means fans must have the desire to help direct your career and invest in your music so you can get better and better as an artist, because it matters to them that you do. Most of all, active, engaged fans want to belong to something that's bigger than themselves.

Complacent or engaged fans—your choice. Companies shouldn't pay fans. -kb

Small correction: does not pay fans themselves, but they do facilitate the ability for artists to pay their fans for their promotional efforts.  Either way, I don't agree and think this isn't a good idea. See Dan Pink in action:

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  1. Audimated is not a new idea, did this a while ago in exactly the same way. It’s commendable that there are companies like this out there experimenting with the digital music marketplace though.
    However I am not sure that the driver for music fans is to become an affiliate for the bands they listen to, the key driver is the quality of the music. Also ease of access is paramount, I think that Audimated and Popcuts both suffer from the fact that it’s not where most fans habitually purchase music from, however much advertising they put behind it.

  2. Kyle:
    Thanks for your article on Audimated. I have a couple of comments to clarify the Audimated business model.
    Audimated is a straight forward “if-then” relationship. If fan x brings a sale to artist y then fan x earns a small commission. You had mentioned compensating fans for a Facebook post or tweet. In our opinion this has much less value than an actual sale. Tweets and Facebook posts do not correlate directly with sales and struggling musicians cannot develop their careers or feed their families with facebook friends, “likes” and retweets. Audimated has focused on bringing real dollars and cents to our members by rewarding them for bringing sales to their favorite musicians and not just furthering the proliferation of social media updates in the ether.
    Audimated agrees that engagement is much more important than compliance and we have built the first version of our service to facilitate this engagement. The fans that join our platform are the true fans of the artists that have memberships with Audimated. These fans are engaged in the careers and development of their favorite artists and are intrinsically motivated to see them succeed. Audimated is a place for a unique relationship to be established between artists and their fans which empowers both of them with the ability to add value and develop the careers of their favorite musicians.
    You also mentioned “choice” in your article. It is important to realize that both parties (artists and fans) have the choice to participate in the commission structure. If the artist doesn’t want to have certain products (or all their products) subject to commissions then they can simply turn it off. If the fans don’t want to earn their commission, they can simply waive their income and transfer it to the artist. Both the artist and fan can participate on our site and use our other features if they choose not to use the commission service. This comes down to the choice that the artist and fan can make (and change) at any time.
    Last but not least you say that “companies shouldn’t pay fans.” We couldn’t agree more and Audimated does not pay fans. Rather Audimated artists choose to compensate their fans and can adjust the degree of incentive according to the level of engagement they desire.
    Thanks again for your article and the feedback is appreciated.
    If you or anyone reading this post has any questions about Audimated you can reach me directly at

  3. Simon:
    Thanks for your support and comments on Audimated. I am glad some one is cheering for entrepreneurs trying to add value to the independent music space.
    Just to clarify the differences between Popcuts and Audimated I have a few comments.
    Popcuts requires you to purchase a song in order to participate in the commission structure/upside. Audimated does not. Audimated is a free service where people can listen to music (for free) and also download music (for free if the artists chooses). Audimated allows members to be affiliates of their favorite artists as a whole and not just particular songs/albums that they have to buy in order to participate.
    The process is simple. Sign up, find the music you like, become a fan and now you are an affiliate. If you share that artist with friends and bring income to that artist then you will be compensated for marketing, exposure and value that you have brought to them.
    Audimated agrees that the driver for music sales is not going to be solely based on affiliate commissions and will largely rest on the quality of the music itself. The goal here is to help that quality music rise to the top and cut through the noise out there by using the affiliate program. If fans discover a new artist/song that they like, and it is of sufficient quality, then the affiliate program will help stimulate the distribution and exposure for this song in a whole new way.
    In regards to the habitual purchase of music we couldn’t agree more and we consider this to be one of our greatest challenges. Internet users are comfortable with purchasing on iTunes and the others and are unfamiliar with Audimated and purchasing music from the site. We hope to overcome this challenge by making Audimated the best site for the Artist’s music. If Audimated artists make more money and get more value using our service than others then they will start sending their fans to their Audimated profiles instead of these other music stores. Another point in this regard is that Audimated (unlike many other social music sites) has an offering for fans. Audimated is a place where fans can aggregate their favorite new music and get compensated for being the first to know of songs/artists and for getting engaged with those songs/artists. In this way fans have a reason to actively use the site and find new music. Audimated feels that as we continue to develop services for both artists and fans that fans will continue to see the service as valuable and make it the destination for independent music. Audimated wont be able to compete (nor intends to) with major label acts which are sold on iTunes and the rest, but will rather focus on developing a self sustaining community only for independent musicians and their fans.
    Thanks for your comment and the feedback is appreciated.
    If you or anyone reading this post has any questions about Audimated you can reach me directly at

  4. If I were an artist using Audimated, I would be extremely skeptical and worried about how big of “fans” these people selling my music actually are. Many fans help out artists and promote music they love because they connect with that particular artist, song, album, or whatever. True fans are intrinsically motivated to promote the music they love. They do it because they feel that they are helping a good cause that they relate to, not much different than the feeling one gets when contributing to a charity.
    I fear that outsourcing fans to help you sell your music using this Audimated platform might attract and create a different type of fan that is not desirable, one that does not care about being engaged or connecting with the artist. This kind of fan will just be interested in getting paid, and many “fans” might try to promote music even if they feel no emotional connection to it.
    Also, many of artists’ existing fans are probably not active on this website, or have even heard of it, which means the artist would have to convince his/her existing fans to join, and convince them to become salesmen/women. This could have negative effects on the engagement of those fans you convince to be your salesmen. I think that fan engagement and interest will decline over time using this platform, leaving the artist with a bunch of fringe fans looking to make a quick buck, even if the newest album sucks.
    There’s my two cents.

  5. What’s being left out is that in order for fans to make money in the first place, they have to sell things that others will want to buy. What incentive is there to pedal an album that “sucks?” No one is going to buy it! Fans are going to sell music matching their taste and that they believe. Also, from what I understand, they make a profit AFTER an item is purchased from their store so a large, impersonal store would seemingly yield less sales than a more selective one.
    The negative thoughts that are being generated around this website are missing the point of it, in my opinion. We live in a world where anything can be purchased at the click of a button, so why not open up the platform to independent musicians and their fans? By the same logic provided in the article (“higher incentives lead to worse performance”) one could argue that, if a garage band is given the chance to perform at an actual venue, they won’t do a good job. Is this likely? Maybe so but I think it will make the band practice more, work harder, and give it their best shot. Every musician deserves the chance to be heard and put themselves out there, and audimated is giving them that opportunity ☺

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