The publishing and broadcasting industries have been experimenting with a variety of subscription strategies, from less rigid to more porous ones. But unlike any of these, the music industry has one key advantage when implementing a paywall: its entertainment value, and as a result, its intrinsically more social nature.
If let’s say, you are a beloved worldwide singer and you want to erect a hard paywall on your website, completely ignoring the potential of social media, then honestly speaking, you are doomed to anonymity.
If a paywall is your only strategy, then you are doomed. - Mathew Ingram
But what if, instead of turning your back to your audience or putting it behind a traditional paywall, you engage with them at the grassroots level? What if you, as an artist, explain to your fans why in a morally fair world they should support you by paying a fair amount when accessing your website and benefiting from your creative output?
The truth is that a paywall in the music industry can work if their users appeal to a straightforward and often ignored facet of their business: people.
I see everybody arguing about what the value of music should be instead of what I think the bigger conversation is — which is that music has value, it’s subjective and we’re moving to a new era where the audience is taking more responsibility for supporting artists at whatever level. My theory is that things aren’t going to pick up until people … instead of saying people should want to pay for music, I think people should want to help their artists. I really think it’s a different way of thinking. – former Dresden Dolls singer Amanda Palmer.
The Subscription Model Which Triggers Engagement
We are aware so far of Spotify, iTunes, Pandora and other subscription models but the truth is that every artist could have their own managed subscription model.
Evolok, for example, can be successfully used by a band/artist as it directly gives them the capability to modify its meter (number of hours/days/minutes their fans can listen to their new album) and also the porosity of your monetisation strategy (how visible and engaged on social media networks they want to be). Moreover, thanks to its wide range of features, such as User Profile and Social Sign-On, artists can also have more targeted campaigns as they engage directly with their viewers and appeal to their music tastes. Also, the Evolok suite allows artists to implement different kinds of monetisation strategies which will only help your management and marketing team to achieve their goals.
Evolok is a relevant example of how a private entity could manage their monetisation model. Add to this your presence on Spotify, iTunes and Pandora and voilà, you have already shifted towards a new business model.
Success And The Little Things Which Make It Happen
Do these steps mean you are going to be successful? Going back to people, one of the most critical resources mentioned in this article, it all depends on how engaged you are with your audience. Music, as we all know, is about emotional engagement: how well do you communicate with your fans? How trusted is your brand as an artist, and how do your fans respond to changes?
We have all seen that the most successful artists are those who treat their work as a business: they deliver excellent performance, engage and maintain a dialogue with their fans and in return, they receive respect, trust and more importantly, a return on their investment.
Social Media has started an online revolution of the business model as we know it. We live in an experimental era where the early adopters of the current technologies, be it social media or monetisation models, are also the first to see their gains.
How ready are our artists to make these changes, and what would this mean in the bigger context? If all media industries – publishing, music, broadcasting – are going to adopt various monetisation models, does it mean we are heading towards a “pay for society”? If no, why and if yes, how long will it take to get there?