Build a music career by offering your fans an experience

At the beginning of the decade, Billboard magazine ran an article about the music industry that began: “Bad times just got worse.”

The grim piece profiled the struggles of record labels as they searched for new ways to sell more music and reflected a sentiment shared by many in the music industry as they sat watching what everyone assumed was to be a slow and steady plane crash – with music artists, songwriters, and record labels trapped helplessly inside while the music industry was reduced to rubble.

Well, that never happened. Things are not going back to the way they were, but the ensuing seven years have brought fresh winds of change, and successful indie artists understand how the new music industry works. The artists who are thriving today are the ones who have learned to make money because of their music and not just directly from it.

Traditionally, direct sales of your music meant you recorded an album, released it on CD and vinyl, your fans bought it, and you got paid. It was a direct transaction that placed the bulk of the value on the actual physical product. In the past 15 years, what the music industry has experienced is not so much a shift of interest, but a shift of value. People still care deeply about artists and discovering new music, but experiences have taken center stage as music has become easier to acquire.

With the advent of sharing and streaming services, music became more easily accessible, and the supply and demand principle kicked in. As this was happening, the knee-jerk reaction from the music industry was fear, and it was easy to understand why. If you are selling a physical product – candy bars, for instance – and suddenly a whole bunch of your competitors start giving away free candy bars to anyone who asks for one, you’d be concerned for your business too.

The major difference here lies in the fact that unlike candy suppliers, music artists bring intrinsic and unique value to the equation. That's why, for modern music fans, the experience rules, and that’s where making money because of your music becomes an ever increasing opportunity.

At PledgeMusic, we’ve assisted as thousands of artists have sold their fans not only a physical album, but unique and amazing experiences: behind-the-scenes access, personal updates, two-way communication, and a window into the creative life and the process involved with recording and releasing new music and being a working musician.

Fans no longer have to wait to go to the record store and pick up a new CD from their favorite band. Now they have opportunities to get in on the ground level and watch the project unfold in the studio, hear tracks in progress, and give input on the CD art and title – well before the project is released. When that day comes, they are the first to get the completed product, and they may even get to enjoy a private show, special extra merch and swag, or dinner with the band.

In a world connected by social media, fans expect to know what you’re up to, wherever you are physically or in the creative cycle. They are interested in what you did today, what's inspiring you, and what you were thinking about when you wrote the lyrics to your latest single. In today's music industry, this is where a lot of the opportunity for you to connect lies. Fans don’t need more ways to buy new music, they need more reasons to. Offer them a chance to join your journey from concept to album release, and they will gladly pay to gain that kind of access. And even more importantly, they'll get to know you, and you’ll get to know your fans on a much more personal level, which is a major bonus.

If you’re an indie artist who wants to make it in the new music industry – and sell more music – think creatively about what value you bring to the table and how you can leverage that to find your niche and build a sustainable music career.

PledgeMusic helps and encourages artists to participate with their fans in an exciting and unique way by creating an irresistible customized menu of exclusive content and experiences that integrates email databases, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and various other social networking sites. Learn more at