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Music Subscription Services Introduce You To Fans But Then You Must Take Them Away

Magnifying-glassBy Julian Weisser (@iamweisser),  co-founder of Bundio, a direct-to-fan subscription platform for creators.

I was watching a Danish film on Netflix a few weeks ago called Klown. I had never heard of the movie but after reading the synopsis I decided to give it a try. From watching the film I discovered comedians Frank Hvam and Casper Christensen. I learned the film was based on their TV show called Klovn and ordered the entire series on DVD. Now I’m (cautiously) looking forward to the American remake by Todd Phillips starring Danny McBride.

Why am I talking about Netflix when I typically discuss startups and the music industry? The ability to consume any and all content has become essential to discovery of the next thing we will love. From Spotify to YouTube, the cost of experimenting with brand new content and creators has been lowered considerably. We no longer need to buy an entire album only to realize we like nothing but the single. We no longer need to worry about being fiscally cautious when it comes to discovery. While the source of discovery will often be on a blog, Twitter, or other social media platform, we instinctively use these services to immediately experience what we just heard about. With these services, we can graze on a plentiful pasture of content; continuing to chew on what we find palatable and spitting out what is not to our taste.

There will continue to be a debate over sensible compensation for streaming content. It is a very real problem that needs further discussion and research. At the same time, artists need to realize that any all-you-can-eat service, free (YouTube) or paid (Spotify), will never be the ideal platform to seek out their biggest revenue streams. It is simply impossible for a fraction of a user’s monthly subscription to equal a CD sale. What is often lost in the discussion about streams is that the user is not paying specifically for any one artist’s music or else they would just buy a handful of albums and be done. They are paying for an ocean; a place to swim deep and see what lies below the surface of familiarity.

While all-you-can-eat content consumption enables anyone to experiment with little risk other than time wasted, there is notably less intimacy between creator and listener. The casual listener gets whatever is available and then either moves on to the next creator or becomes a fan and wants more. When a casual listener changes into a fan this is the time to move them off of the buffet line and convert them into both a customer and evangelist. This is the type of person that will want more than the average listener. They will seek it out at live performances (or movie screenings in the case of Netflix) and online in the form of behind the scenes footage, exclusive tracks, and demos.

It’s time we looked at all-you-can-eat services differently. They are a place for your future fans to find you. Once they do, it becomes time to grow the relationship and move it outside of the cluttered landscape.