D2F or direct-to-fan is a key topic of our time whether considered as an approach to ecommerce or a core focus of business. Numerous D2F services now exist making it possible for musicians and/or their teams to take music, merch and ticketing sales directly to fans using self-serve online tools. But once you get past a feature set are there services that better support D2F than others? Yesterday I spoke with Music Geek Services' Jay Coyle to get his take on the differences experienced by the band Carbon Leaf between an album presale using Topspin and an album campaign on PledgeMusic.
I did not at first realize that Jay Coyle was one of the new PledgeMusic A&R's, much less the new head of Vinyl Vault Special Projects, but it quickly became evident he's a good fit. Coyle feels strongly that super-serving fans is the way forward and his direct contact with the fans of the acts with which he works has shown him that vinyl has become a must have.
Building A Career Connecting Artists and Fans
Jay Coyle founded Music Geek Services in 2008 leaving the corporate world behind to build an artists services company based on building stronger connections with fans. His brother Chandler Coyle makes up the rest of the Music Geek Team.
Jay Coyle started doing D2F consulting, which is how he defined his core activities, in 2007 working with Bare Naked Ladies. In short, he helped them gather their musical assets and monetize those assets by getting them to fans.
Topspin quickly became a key tool for Coyle. He took the Berklee Topspin course recognizing that Topspin's D2F features such as presales, merch bundles and email marketing were particularly well-suited to the legacy acts, including Canada's Sloan, with which he was working.
Because of his dedicated use of Topspin, bands began to contact Coyle for help including Carbon Leaf. They had quickly released multiple albums after leaving Vanguard but realized that tools like Topspin offered more than just online stores.
Carbon Leaf Tries Topspin and PledgeMusic
Coyle worked with Carbon Leaf beginning in late 2012 on the Topspin presale and merch campaign for "Ghost Dragon Attacks Castle." Though they appreciated the power of going direct-to-fan using Topspin, they still felt they could do more with fan engagement.
After a conversation that included CEO Benji Rogers, Jay Coyle was convinced that PledgeMusic offered the tools he needed to conduct a fan engagement campaign rather than a direct-to-fan sales effort.
For their next album Carbon Leaf conducted a PledgeMusic campaign bringing the fans into the process before they even had an album title rather than simply announcing to their fan list that music and merch were available.
Carbon Leaf went from a 6 week presale to a 4 month album campaign and, in the process, quadrupled revenue. The extended time allowed for not only additional marketing but for deeper fan engagement.
As others have maintained, Coyle said the deeper connection with fans trumped the financial success. Their PledgeMusic campaign opened up new channels of communication and created new ways for fans to get involved. They're even starting to get positive feedback on their current tour about the whole process.
Though Carbon Leaf is building on a 20-year career, Coyle says they've never felt more directly connected with their fans. And that's why Jay Coyle feels that PledgeMusic is the ideal service for legacy artists.
Why PledgeMusic Is Leading The Pack
It's certainly possible to reverse engineer PledgeMusic's approach and recreate it for yourself using the amazing array of off-the-shelf web services now available to indie and DIY artists.
But now that the novelty of the web is wearing off, people don't want to have to go through a complicated process of picking out the best service-as-a-feature for each aspect of a campaign and then integrate the pieces themselves. That's one reason I predicted that we'd see more partnerships between artist services companies.
Part of the reason PledgeMusic is assuming a prominent position in the current landscape is that they take a whole group of features and partner services and connect them as parts of a whole campaign rather than as a simple series of tasks. In fact, Jay Coyle still uses and promotes Topspin for its feature set but views PledgeMusic as crucial to any full campaign.
Whatever service or services you end up using, keep in mind that the tools you choose are not just about completing a task, they are about connecting more directly with your fans.
- Toad the Wet Sprocket, Luscious Jackson Reunite Via Power of Kickstarter and PledgeMusic
- Topspin Offers 5 Direct To Fan Lessons From SXSW
- CEO Benji Rogers On Why PledgeMusic Is Building An A&R Team
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at Flux Research and Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.