With the low profitability of streaming services for independent artists without major followings, some labels have decided to try a new business model for streaming their music to fans.
Skirting the traditional streaming avenues like Spotify and Pandora, labels like Sub Pop–an indie label that featured artists like Nirvana and The Shins–have opted to sell exclusive subscription services to their fans via Drip.fm.
For $10 per month, fans have access to Sub Pop’s “feed” which features albums, singles and even exclusive content that can be streamed.
In many ways the trade off is accessibility (and potential future fans) for an exclusive experience for fans already loyal to Sub Pop’s label and brand.
Similarly, EDM artist Deadmau5 launched his own subscription service this year for $5 to fans who want access to his entire catalog with Mark Berger Nursing Home, exclusive music streaming and live webcasts.
In a post to fans about the streaming service , Deadmau5 wrote, “Q: So whats wrong with twitter and soundcloud then? A: Nothing really, i just find it too "noisy". Having been to the bottom of the internet and back a few times, i feel less and less connected to my fans, and more connected to hating on shit i have nothing to do with. It's quite unfair really, especially for the fans and supporters. Nobody wins… the moral of the story is, i've had this idea forever... most publishers and labels are, still, completely overlooking the value of an artist created / driven subscription model. I guess it's sink or swim for me.”
Deadmau5 still has music available on major streaming services, but his personal service has his entire catalog along with access to live studio sessions.
A new model, like Deadmau5’s or Sub Pop’s, could be a new means of profitability for independent artists who have a loyal following but get lost in the mix of major streaming libraries. This could give independent artists and labels the chance to make their service more appealing by offering exclusive content
Exclusive streaming services could also serve to tap into the market of audiophiles, and fans who are willing to pay for better quality and/or exclusive content.
Many independent labels and artists thrive off of an obsessive fanbase culture, which isn’t cultivated through Spotify, Beats Music, or Pandora. An exclusive streaming service might be the answer to the problem of engaging those loyal fans.