You’re sitting at Starbucks and a friend who just swiped his credit
card into the store’s music kiosk to download a brand-new mixtape onto
his MP3 player tells you about a rare My Chemical Romance track he
heard last night, which you proceed to download with a few clicks on
your cell phone.
Or maybe you discover a hot new underground MC and pay $20 to
join his fan club, which allows you to rhyme alongside his "Second
Life" avatar whenever you want, suggest songs for him to play at an
upcoming show in your town, or maybe even contribute some ideas to the
lyrics he can add to a song he’s writing with a group of fellow
Fan Clubs With A Personal Touch
If you’re going to give away free downloads, make sure you get
something equally valuable in return. That’s the message from Dave
Kusek, author of "The Future of Music Book: Manifesto for the Digital Music Revolution."
"You don’t want to give your music away," he said. "You want to trade
it for an e-mail address or a referral to a friend: something that has
value to you but low perceived value to the customer."
In Kusek’s near future, artists will trade songs for e-mails,
entering fans into contests for backstage passes and creating an e-mail
database that could rival any potential fanbase built by constant
touring. He also foresees a not-distant time in which artists — most
likely emerging ones or less established acts — charge fans $5-$20 a
month to gain access to an exclusive area where they can ask the artist
questions or suggest songs for them to play at their upcoming concerts.
In this private world, you will be able to "attend" exclusive
living room shows, participate in songwriting contests or gain access
to a monthlong suite of music created just for the club that tells a
coherent musical story, perhaps with input from club members. "It can
be personalized and individualized to the fan level, so that the music
can have a much longer lifespan than an hour or one song," said Kusek.