Gone are the days when fans would line up around the block to get the new hot album, music lovers today can simply email their heroes thanks to a direct-to-fan platform called PledgeMusic. "I am encouraged that artists can connect directly with the fans," says MC5 frontman Wayne Kramer. "It used to be more cosmic. Someone out there was getting it. Now I’m getting emails about track three on the album." The musician-focused site is helping to facilitate these relationships with the company’s direct artist-to-fan campaigns.
Run by musicians and those steeped in music biz knowhow, PledgeMusic offers bands support before, during and after their campaign. “Their guidance was invaluable,” says Kramer. Kramer completed a successful campaign this summer to raise funds to support the tour of his first jazz album, Lexington. With his band of jazz heavyweights, Wayne Kramer & The Lexington Arts Ensemble, the album shot to #6 on the Billboard Jazz Charts upon its release. In their campaign, fans snapped up the band’s offer to play a private concert in the venue of their choice. “Maybe the living room?” Kramer laughed.
PledgeMusic campaigns give fans an increasingly intimate look at their music heroes. Devo fans, for example, were invited to be a part of the band's concert video, Devo Hardcore Live! The video was shot by award-winning filmmaker, Keirda Bahruth and will be available to fans in a variety of packages. Fans can even get their name in the liner notes.
PledgeMusic fans also sometimes get access to exclusive extras available only through the PledgeMusic site. Legendary metal giants, Judas Priest, used Pledgemusic in June 2014 to get their new album, Redeemer of Souls, to fans and offered supporters special access to previously unreleased videos upon their purchase of the album. Fans could also get the deluxe version of the album, a t-shirt or signed art proofs.
Other bands, such as Weezer and LIVE, are utilizing the site’s preorder feature which helps artists or labels that have a completed album reach their targeted audience. For fans that preorder Weezer’s new Everything Will Be Alright In The End album, produced by Cars frontman Ric Ocasek, they will receive special bonus content, a look at their single “Back to the Shack” and as soon as the album drops, they can download it while waiting for their shipment to arrive. LIVE’s new album, The Turn, their first in eight years, offers fans who preorder a look at their recording sessions and a virtual tour of the world-class recording studio.
These types of campaigns are not for everyone. As one musician put it, you have to be comfortable connecting directly with fans. If you’re the type to run to the bus and skip the press line, it’s probably not for you. Companies like Kickstarter and PledgeMusic also take a cut of the overall profits, yet the services offered and the invaluable opportunity to connect with fans directly seems to overshadow the cost. For many bands, this new paradigm is allowing them to survive, even thrive, in an ever-changing marketplace.
For more information, visit www.pledgemusic.com