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  1.  (6204.1)
    Per Tweet from Neil Gaiman, seems Thea Gilmore has come up with an idea to do something as oddly groundbreaking as Making Money while Making Music. Aside from sharing with the WhiteChapel public, I'm curious to hear Warren Ellis' thoughts....
  2.  (6204.2)
    That's a very solid example of putting the One Thousand True Fans idea into practice. There are certainly comics that I'd support online for five bucks a month, especially if they came with bonus goodies. I wonder how possible it would to do it from the ground up - that is, can you start as an unknown and make money as you b uild?
  3.  (6204.3)
    This isn’t the first such service I’ve seen, and so far the musicians have had a really bad track record of following up on their promises. Even Prince, who can’t shut about about how prolific he is, couldn’t make his music club work. Mostly because he couldn’t seem to take one or two of pile of songs he records every month and post them to his own web site, and he lives at his own recording studio with a staff of people to get it all done. So while I wish the best of luck to Thea Gilmore, there’s no way I’d put money on this working out.
    •  
      CommentAuthoroleoleo
    • CommentTimeJun 22nd 2009
     (6204.4)
    I like the song request idea.

    How does one expand their business?
    •  
      CommentAuthorrickiep00h
    • CommentTimeJun 22nd 2009
     (6204.5)
    This reminds me of a less insane version of what drummer Josh Freese did when his newest solo album came out. Pay a certain amount, get a bigger "extra" with the album. Things like taking one of his drumkits home. Getting his Volvo. Going out to dinner with him and Maynard James Keenan from Tool. Having breakfast with Robin Finck from NIN.

    Or you could just get a handwritten thank-you note and a five minute phone call. Depends on how much you want to spend.

    From what I've seen, he's backing up each and every one of the offers. I originally thought it was a joke, but when the guy that paid for the $20,000 package and said it was the best twenty grand he ever spent, I started taking it seriously.

    Linky
    •  
      CommentAuthorTF
    • CommentTimeJun 22nd 2009
     (6204.6)
    It's not a groundbreaking business model - it's a fancy fan club (or a modern fan club.)

    Prince's use of an online fan club was actually reasonably successful the first time he did it - mostly due to the special events, front row tickets and sound check invitations. At the time I think he released an amount of albums that satisfied the fans but the pace of the internet was slower then, there was no iTunes or other online stores really.

    It's his new site where fans are complaining about the lack of new material because he isn't providing videos / music as fast as his fans would like for the price they paid ( $77 ). Prince also has a unique problem that his fans are aware of the volume of material that he has created (videos, mini movies, documentaries and songs / instrumentals) that has never seen the light of day and his fans expect to get it all and get it all now for the 77 price of admission.

    In any case this type of model wouldn't work for someone starting out because there is no trust there.

    The Dave Matthew's Band's Warehouse fan club is probably the most successful fan club I've seen. That is a business - they use it to whore everything.

    The reason it is so successful is that it was built on the mutual trust of the "taper" community that helped break them. Fans taped their shows and shared the recordings which helped make them popular and when the time was right they said "keep taping - but - join the fan club and get a soundboard recording, T-shirt and first preference tickets" etc.

    With regards business model I'm more interested in what MosDef is doing with his new album. It's a T-Shirt with a code in it. You buy the shirt and use the code on the label to download the album. Everybody wears T-Shirts, Record shops sell T-Shirts....... it's clever cause it's simple and has every reason to work well.

    It would be very strange if everyone started doing it though.
  4.  (6204.7)
    Prince's use of an online fan club was actually reasonably successful the first time he did it - mostly due to the special events, front row tickets and sound check invitations. At the time I think he released an amount of albums that satisfied the fans but the pace of the internet was slower then, there was no iTunes or other online stores really.

    Trust me, I was a member, and it sucked the first time he did it. It was a mess, the album was just a remix of Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic, the fan tickets were awful, etc.. Complaints were answered with batshit crazy emails written in Prince’s version of 1337speak. And then he changed and was supposed to mail out four albums over a year to members, but everybody quit and I don’t know what happened after that…

    With regards business model I'm more interested in what MosDef is doing with his new album. It's a T-Shirt with a code in it.

    Now that’s just fucking brilliant.
  5.  (6204.8)
    The partnership I'm offering asks you for the following -
    £52 GBP a year

    For that all your getting is an album a year, and a bunch of personalised stuff that I dont really care about. I wouldnt pay half of that for my most loved artists. And this is payment in advance aswell, for songs strung out once a month. In the same way that I usually wait for the trade, I wait for the album too. I want a fully realised chunk of art I can devour all at once, snacks are fattening and unfulfilling.
    This just seems a ridiculously high price. I much prefer the Josh Freese model where you can pick how much you get based on how much money you have and how much you adore the artist.
    I can see how some people would do this, Superfans, people far above the "Truefan." But its kinda off putting to people whove never heard of her.
    I would much rather pay £5 to download a full album the day its mastered. Or ya know just get it off pirate bay...
  6.  (6204.9)
    52 GBP a year??? (for those that haven't read the Gilmore link yet, that is her price-point for a monthly bonus song and a light offering of nice extras).

    I think this type of thing can work, and needs to work for the same reasons Thea mentions, but the price needs be a lot less. Obviously, setting the price high is not an obstacle for particularly devoted fans -- unless they're already subscribing to another of their favorite bands on the same premise. For this kind of system to take the next step from "fancy fan club," and truly take advantage of the internet's distribution power, it needs to be based on wholesale pricing.

    Bands get by making a proper release every two years at $8.99 for mp3: fans, who don't make it to shows, are only paying $4.50 retail, for a year of an artist's work. With a subscription's direct label-to-consumer revenue stream, I'm inclined to say that an artist can leverage enough out of that same $4.50 a year, offering almost everything that Gilmore's got lined up, shooting for a base of 20k subscribers, to hit living wage. That seems like a lot to hit, but music sells. Everything above that base is profit.

    I do think we need to see the same thing with comics. Comics have spent a decade completely foundering on direct digital distribution, because even though we pay 4 dollars a month for 22 pages printed, we expect anything online to be free. I like the idea of a $4.00 per year online comic. The Achewood model, $2.99 per month for bonus access, is just another fancy fan club: it's viable within a certain very commited handful of the audience, but leaves the greater portion of readers completely untapped. The real goal -- direct distribution, artist-to-reader -- means revenue based on product, not extras.

    It doesn't work at fan-only prices. We know no one wants to pay tpb price, $24 per year or more, for a digital comic, and no one wants to affirm a half-cent transaction for every page: but float that meaningful but painless $3.99 price-point at a reader, for a year of content plus the basic run of extras, and a comic book (with no label and no recording studio time to recoup) only needs 6k readers per creator to hit living wage. Every other reader is profit. Assetbar already offeres that infrastructure.

    So this is what I'd like to see people trying. If someone can make that work, from an established reader base or from the grond up, then we're talking progress.
  7.  (6204.10)
    Aside from sharing with the WhiteChapel public, I'm curious to hear Warren Ellis' thoughts....

    Hm.

    I think it would have been the act of a friend to get her to think about a rewrite before releasing that statement. I think it's disingenuous in places, and too bitter for her pitch in others.

    I like the idea of a "partnership" -- I consulted on, and named, the "Swarm Of Angels" project. She uses the word, but that's not really what she's offering. The benefits seem to me to be a little ephemeral. If she'd offered some of the things on that list, (say) halved the price and said "please sponsor this year's album! You'll get each track as it's done as an exclusive mp3, a thank-you on the physical album, A COPY OF the physical album, a members-only production-diary website with extra stuff, merch and backstage passes" then I think the appeal would have been broader. Like Sloth said, I think this is a "Superfan" deal, and she might well find 100 people who'll cough up fifty notes to get a lyric sheet she touched or whatever. A more focussed "produce my album!" offering, even at thirty quid, including an actual tangible copy of The Album What You Produced at the end of it, would seem to me to have a broader appeal.
  8.  (6204.11)
    "52 GBP a year??? (for those that haven't read the Gilmore link yet, that is her price-point for a monthly bonus song and a light offering of nice extras).

    I think this type of thing can work, and needs to work for the same reasons Thea mentions, but the price needs be a lot less. "

    I'm not sure. She's just appealing to her fanbase, and it's entirely possible that price is completely irrelevant in terms of how many people will actually pay. Where price would be an issue would be dealing with people who like her music but aren't really fans in the sense of someone dedicated.

    Gaiman himself, for example, has a lot of fans and a lot of reach. If he were to offer something like this, I think how much he would charge would have more of an impact on how much money he would ultimately bring in. For someone on Gilmore's level, unless she were really actively seeking out new fans, less money charged will probably equal less money overall.

    That said, to max out the money, you'd probably want to create multiple levels of membership (or sponsorship, or whatever).
    •  
      CommentAuthorVaehling
    • CommentTimeJun 23rd 2009
     (6204.12)
    I'm trying to remember when I've last paid the equivalent of 52GBP for a band. It could happen, given the prices they charge for shows in Germany. (They have to, there's a special tax for foreigners playing here.) Buy a CD at the show, and you're done. Except, I don't remember doing that. I buy CDs at cheaper shows because my budget isn't maxed out then. And even if I did, I may not do that every year. (Hm, two shows, then? No CD?)

    Of course, a die-hard fan would probably do it. But i don't see myself die-hard enough for such a model.

    It could happen in comics, though. Because it spreads out over the year, so I don't always notice it all lgoing down the drain.

    Thea's mail reminded me of the subscription model I'm thinking about, going along the lines of "Pay me this amount of money, and I'll keep shipping stuff until it's used up". Maybe with fancy, exclusive extras. I guess that would be something like this, but without the expiration date.