Remember some years ago (well actually about ten!) David Bowie launched Bowienet, with paid for membership (and the tantilising possiblity of talking with him in the forums)? Well, it looks like more artists are catching on. Genesis recently announced a tour and subsequently made the forums section on their web site paid access only .
Content which was previously free became paid access. Not only that but forums are User Generated Content. There is a strange dynamic at work here where we see the labour of love that the artist works on declining in price and perceived (monetary) value, but a new form of artist-related product (not traditional merchandise) gaining traction as having value. Will the recorded music become the low price lever to get people into higher priced ‘services’?
My take is that this only works for big artists right now but as a model could become more and more prevalent, although The Police web site adopts a halfway position with registration required for forum access and a premium membership of $100 available. Real money. How many albums would you get for $100?
But wait you say, isn’t that model quite old fashioned? Commercial television for example, relies on not paid-for content…the content is merely the attractor to get people to watch ads. The difference here is no ads and trying to move consumers from one product with declining price to a service with repeat payments over time. What else does the artist/label get from this? Email address, opportunities for dialogue, greater revenue and opportunities to cross-sell. For many fans killer content will include the work on the way to the finished product (see the success of outtakes, film directors’ commentaries and behind the scenes footage of recording studio). Artists brave enough to let some of that material out, especially live as it happens, could find themselves with fans online for hours running their own Big Brother-alike (ok, I may have taken that one too far but who knows what Babyshambles in the studio streaming live to the web might be like – actually I can guess…).The last word come from an article from nine years ago:
“BowieNet starts with David Bowie and leads utlimately to an entirely new experience with music and art in general,” said Bob Goodale, co-founder of UltraStar and a pioneering Web music producer.
Lofty aims and these models are not proven but finally it looks like more experimentation with monetising the models are on their way.