What would happen if a blockbuster Hollywood movie went straight to TV, bypassing cinemas, DVD and cable networks?
In the world of music, there are no channels to ‘cinema’ release an album at the moment. In fact, there is little chance of an artist selling their album digitally at say 9.99 since Apple effectively hid their music buying interface to instead push users towards subscribing to Apple Music. Streaming can’t be the only channel – can it? It was only months ago that fans could still buy digital albums. Now there are only monthly subscription services. Something went wrong and needs fixing.
Music going straight to ‘9.99 a month for everything’ streaming service is not only diluting the importance of an artist and their music but also diluting the profits of artists and their labels. Artists are feeling the effects. In fact, 99% of all streams on Spotify go to just 10% of songs.
It appears that apart from physically releasing an album on CD and vinyl there are few digital equivalents that allow artists to release new work at a premium. New albums go the same route as old and the value is lost.
However, I don’t believe there’s a straight line in how this story will evolve. Just as tickets for concerts are available to fans prior to them being available to the public, music can be sold this way too. What’s missing is the platform and this is where FanCircles comes in. A white label social media platform that allows video, music, photos and other media to be shared in an artist app that collects the fan’s contact details before they view. That’s not a lot to ask a fan, is it? But it opens up a marketing channel the label or artist doesn’t have.
Music fans, at least the important ones (the ones that go to gigs and buy merchandise) are still interested in giving back more to their favourite artists.
It’s clear to see this by looking at the growth of vinyl albums sales and less apparent, but equally important in merchandise sales. Merchandise is not just a t-shirt or a poster. Ed Sheeran’s mum designed a wristband and it’s now one of Ed’s biggest selling merch item at £25 each. Is it worth £25? You can probably buy something similar on Camden market for a quid but it connects you to the artist. Fans support their artists and buy into everything they do.
So, do you just want a play of your song (on SoundCloud for example) or the contact details of a fan, in exchange for a play of a new song?
The value in an artist releasing material of any kind to a limited but premium audience is very valid but these channels have been shut down because few artists have the resources to develop these channels both financially and technically.
The FanCircles artist platform is very similar to every social media network out there, it provides a Facebook-style social sharing wall, video and audio serving platforms just like YouTube and SoundCloud, photo sharing like Instagram and gig listings.
So if it’s a social network why is this so unique?
It’s unique because the business model is different. Every social network you use owns the user relationship and are happy to take you money every time you want to advertise to your fan base. Most of them also license everything you upload to them to re-use, remix and even sell.
With FanCircles – the artist owns it.
And with this data you truly know who is watching, listening and interacting with you. So instead of releasing everything “straight to DVD” think about staged releases of material – first to the super-fans and through an app that knows who’s listening –
Don’t count your wealth in the number of “Views” or “Likes”. It won’t work out well.