Thursday, March 3, 2011

An Artist Subscription Model That Works

Recently Jill Havercamp wrote an interesting article over at Music Think Tank called "6 Case Studies On Successful Online Music Marketing." Although all of the examples are good (some I've written about here before), one jumped out at me.

Matthew Ebel runs a subscription site for his super fans that he says provides him 26% of his income - all from just 40 fans! His packages range from $5/month to $15/month, but he has annual options that go for as much as $499, and that one's sold out.

So what do you get as a subscriber?
   * Members-only parties
   * VIP seating at shows
   * Access to new music as soon as he creates it
   * New live concert recordings every month
   * Sessions with individual tracks for remixing
   * Behind-the-scene sketches, drafts, and ideas, and more.

Now 40 fans isn't a huge number, and 26% of his income may or may not amount to much, but I think that just the fact that Matthew was willing to try subscription validates that this model is viable even for an artist without a huge amount of national attention. Most artist's would normally be afraid of subscription because you really need dedicated fans to make it work, and it takes a lot of work to make the subscription worthwhile to keep the fans happy.

Good work, Matthew. You're a great example of what can happen for an artist in Music 3.0.

You can view Matthew's site here and view his subscription page here.


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Wicked D said...

26% is a huge number! Also, theoretically, doesn't that mean if he reaches that magical number of 1000 true fans, he will, even at only $5/mo, being pulling in $60,000/year via subscription alone?

$5/mo + 1000 fans = $5000/mo x 12 months = $60,000/yr, right?

Then, throw in ticket & merch sales on the road to casual fans & one time buyers. Not a shabby life!

Wicked D said...

Actually, it's $5/mo x 1000, not $5 + 1000. Math was never my strong point, but you get the idea! hahaha

Kristian Jackson said...

I read this case study on MTT originally. What I'm really interested in seeing is if Matthew sees decent growth over the next couple of years. Actually, what I'd really like to see is the breakdown of fans per package. We of course know that he starts with a base amount of $3500 being the 5 sold out premium packages. I'd love to know the spread of the other 35.

His packages include a fair bit of perks at his live gigs, something we'd struggle with a bit here in Australia where our small to mid level live scene seems to shrink each week. But it could be done in a modified form. Would just have to think outside the box.

The one thing that irks me to a point, and this isn't directed at Matthew directly, is this paradigm of quantity over quality that is being promoted. I think Matthew's promised a new song every fortnight. That's a big ask. He's a competent songwriter, but even the best songwriter has weak material that, when released, diminishes the quality of his/her best work. I'm not saying don't release the stuff, just that we put our best foot forward and don't fall into the trap of churning out material for the sake of it. Leave that task for the majors ;)

Bobby Owsinski said...

Agreed, Kristian. I'm curious as to how sustainable this will be as well. I think I'm most impressed that he actually got 40 fans to subscribe. That's no small task.

By the way, our live music scene here is incredibly small here as compared to the way it once was. That being said, it seems like the number of gigs available to singer/songwriters are on the rise.

Kristian Jackson said...

Hell yeah, getting 5 people to cough up that kind of cash, and 35 to cough up full stop, is a win.

We have the same thing happening here, "singer/songwriter" nights are all over the place, mainly open mic style nights too. Unfortunately that's meant the beige cloud of amateur acoustica hangs low. But even that will lift in time. It will all hit a low point and then bounce back, it always does.


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