O’Reilly’s observations, together with Cringely’s suggestions for a scrappy, long-haul new model for musical artists, make me wonder: why aren’t individual bands yet offering subscription services to their entire artistic output?
A yearly subscription might be just $30 and include:
- unlimited access to downloadable back-catalog
- unlimited access to downloadable new releases
- online newsletter
- access to special online events
- priority access to concert tickets
- a once-yearly collectible trinket confirming membership
- automatic annual rebilling until cancelled
After all, fans identify with artists rather than labels or
the nascent aggregation services. Such per-artist subscriptions
would give fans the exact guaranteed-quality music they want,
plus the warm fuzzy feeling that they’re doing the right thing,
and in such a way that less money goes to middlemen.
- Bands lack the expertise to set up such a system and
back-end billing. But a service company could easily
offer a turnkey solution. PayPal offers a
super-easy system for recurring billing.
- Serving costs would exceed revenues. But a P2P
distribution scheme could allow the service site
to merely serve as the fallback source iof rich media
tracks — with 99% of transfers going direct between fan
- Some people will just sign up, grab everything, and
not renew. I’m not sure this is even a bad thing.
Some of these people would renew each time new material
becomes available. Tweaking the renewal pricing and
trickling out new releases year-round could discourage
I suppose Prince’s NPG music club was (is?) a little like this.
Kelli Richards points out that David Bowie,
Elton John, and Todd Rundgren
all offer paid fan services of various forms. However, I find that each of these artist websites are crippled by atrocious,
awkward, loud, flash-drenched user interfaces — and so I can’t tell if any of them actually offer the artist’s oeuvre in any
(My tip to any acts that want to try a individualized subscription service: drop the garish designs, pop-ups, flash,
tiny type, and sluggish captioning. Just say in big clear letters, “For $X a year you get access to all my music and
additional benefits A, B, C. Click here to sign up. Thanks!”)
Would you subscribe on an annual basis to the output of your favorite musical acts? At what price?