Monday, June 22, 2009

Putting Appealing to the Hardcore Into Practice

Thea Gilmore's music isn't typical BBB subject matter but she's recently written a blog post about a subject near and dear to my heart: changing how artists make a living through practical application. What makes her decision even more interesting is that, unlike the Trent Reznors and Radioheads of the world, Thea has a much smaller following and by choosing this path, she's blazing a trail for the thousands of independent musicians with small, rabid fanbases who make up this new world music business order that's supposedly just over the horizon. Her plan:

For £52 a year (about $85 at current exchange rates), you get:
  • A new, original and unreleased track download delivered to your inbox every month, amount[ing] to a full, exclusive album every 12 months which will not be available anywhere else.
  • A lyric sheet, handwritten and signed by [her] to a song of your choice.
  • An entry into a 'Thea Gilmore Song Lottery' - all members can suggest a song they want to hear [her] cover and once during the year [she]'ll pull one out of the hat and record it!
  • A namecheck on [her] albums. For the duration of your membership you will recieve a special thankyou on my albums
  • Opportunities for exclusive live shows and backstage passes to gigs.
  • A set of 4 exclusive badges, unavailable elsewhere
  • Access to a members only website [, F]eaturing: video diaries, an ‘ask Thea’ forum, previews of new releases, merch and generally getting the news before anyone else.
If Bob Lefsetz is right, if the only way to succeed in music (succeed being "have enough money not to starve to death while you do what you love") is to pander to the hardcore, Gilmore's business plan will not only succeed, but give her a much better sense of who her audience is and why they love her music. She may not make changes to fit their tastes, but she might get inspiration for her songs and in the process, find new ways to connect to her fans. I hope it works. Even more, I hope it scales.

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