Are Paid Subscriptions the Future for Fan to Artist Relationships?

With musicians scrambling for new ways to monetize their content, some companies and artists are creating new ways to interact with their fans and make music a viable career. A subscription plan for fans to build relationships with their favorite artists is an interesting concept for future business models in the music industry. As more and more artists decide to go this route, we will see if it becomes an efficient way for artists to make a living.

Last year I came across a website called MyBandStock that promises exclusive access to your favorite artists. Fans become shareholders in the artists of their choosing and are then given perks and preferred access to exclusive media, meet and greets, mobile apps, pre-sale concert tickets, and more. Although they have not yet finished developing the entire site or making deals with some of their first artists, the MyBandStock team have secured an undisclosed amount of funding for their project and opened up a Los Angeles office. One question that comes to mind is whether this is something the fans actually want to participate in.

Touring musician and recording artist Matthew Ebel has already been using the MyBandStock model for quite a while without help from an outside music platform. He successfully manages to keep music as his prime passion and also his full-time job (not a small feat). On his website, fans can pay to get access to a subscription section that offers new live recordings every month, invitations or free tickets to special events, members-only downloads, and a chance to win custom-written songs. There are a variety of pricing options, starting at $5 per month, depending on the level of access you want. If Matthew Ebel can make this model work in combination with other monetization streams, many other artists will follow suit.

Personally I like the idea of a subscription model on band websites. However, I feel that this “new” model for gaining access to artists is just a glorified version of the outdated fan club. Street teams are still a good way to galvanize your fanbase, but fan clubs in the conventional sense have not been popular for a long time. MyBandStock adds game mechanics as a way to spur fan engagement—now that you can own shares in your favorite artists, you have a way to compare yourself to other fans who may or may not have as many shares as you. Those with many shares in an artist can maintain a sense of prestige that goes along with showing your commitment to an artist. Time will tell if the model gains steam or if it remains a niche in the music industry.