Are Music Super-Fans the New Anti-Piracy Heroes?

Pizza Parties with All Time Low & Taylor Swift

 

Published November 19, 2015

MUSO investigates the influence of super-fans on the music industry.

I have a friend who identifies herself as an All Time Low ‘Hustler.’ She is part of an exclusive club, paying $25 a year for perks including VIP concert access, while attending pizza parties with the band. She’s already spent around $1,300 this year. In the eyes of the music industry, she’s a super-fan, heavily influenced by direct-to-fan marketing and taking part the revolutionary new way in how bands interact with fans.

Audiences have changed their demands. Previously, comfortable with the artist mystique, the Internet has caused seismic shifts. Now fans want more intimate access and they’re willing to pay for it. The demand for more intimate access to artists couldn’t be greater with data-analysts Nielsen calculating an additional £2.6 billion could be spent by ‘super fans.’ But how do artists produce the right conversations to satisfy fan demand?

Artists have long since hired digital marketing gurus and engaged with labels on full-service deals. This evolution in dialogue is shifting the dynamic within the music industry to allow labels access to a bigger and more engaged list of super-fans to market their next-big-thing to.

Internet sensation Halsey proved how successful this framework can be recently by putting covers and songs on Soundcloud whilst simultaneously building a fan-base. As she rockets to stardom, she already has fiercely loyal fans who are willing to pay and act as her bedrock. Starting the dialogue early, fans who ‘found’ her have a badge of honour to put out on social media, creating the intimate dialogue digital marketing experts are digging for from the beginning. Technology companies like Pledgemusic facilitate these dialogues, with exclusive packages available including t-shirts and lyric art print. Global acts like The Libertines recently tapped into the direct-fan power for pre-release exclusives.

“Superfans; these are some of the most interesting men and women in the industry right now and they’re particularly important to artists. […] Now it’s one fan at a time. An artist can, if these use the technology and the tools correctly connect directly with these people and not have an intermediary anymore. That engagement is probably one of the most talked about topics in the music industry right now “Benji Rogers, founder of PledgeMusic at SXSW 2014

Of course, Twitter has also become a necessity for any artist, from small indie groups to acts guaranteed to sell-out Wembley. Twitter creates a real-time and necessary discourse. Social Media is no longer the placard to post band tour dates. Joy Williams, from the Nashville band The Civil Wars, used Twitter to tell fans about her real-time feelings and show pictures of her son. By creating this remarkably intimate circle around social media, her 110K followers will consider going to her show and feel connected from just a fleeting glimpse into her private life. But does this make them more inclined to buy meet-and-greets and other VIP bundles? Taylor Swift, queen of all social media, engages on multi-level platforms from Twitter to Tumblr. With more than a little help from her digital team, she contacts fans directly and thanks them for their support, drawing them closer to a world that could easily seem interstellar. Neither does she shy away from throwing her own pizza party for her loyal fans who tweeted the whole experience. Instead of the mystique, fans now demand the humanisation of artists.

We all know one; a One Directioner, a Belieber, a Swiftie. These loyal fans are creating hashtags which takeover Twitter and protect their artists as if they were family. When new songs leak onto the Internet, they take to social media preaching for people not to download the song illegally as ‘they want to get their boys [One Direction] to the top of Spotify.’ The fans want them to succeed and are conscious that piracy will not bring them the chart records the fans demand and they feel their artists deserve.

Solutions like MUSO are also engaging millions fans in a different way, initially creating a positive environment for the official artist and fan sites to bloom and command the lion’s share of search engine traffic. With the obvious pull of piracy sites firmly out of view, over time that lure subsequently moves out of mind for many. MUSO’s Retune audience connection tools also pose the question directly to audiences, ‘why not form a closer engagement with the artist?’

Discussing online piracy with our All Time Low ‘Hustler’, she commented on how quickly she made the transition away from piracy to paying for the music, and supporting the artist. Those badly ripped EPs didn’t hit the spot, and much like the One Directioners, she wanted to bring “her boys to the top of the charts.”

Now it seems paying for music is just the start of the new super fan relationship, even if that means buying multiples of the same records, providing she can secure that pizza party invite. Rising up the ranks of the All Time Low family, she becomes part of the legions of anti-piracy super-fans, potentially pulling the entire fan-base away from a content infringement mind-set. By buying legal material, not only does she earn the satisfaction of listening to great content, but also sleeps with the knowledge that she helped her “family” get to the top of the charts. That sense of satisfaction is ,so far, unique to an anti-piracy super-fan…the question is, how long until we’re all super-fans.


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