This whole buying shares in a song has been going around for decades, especially in the heyday of record label monopolies. The basic premise at that time was that people would buy shares in a song and then any earnings the song makes goes back to the shareholders.
Fast forward to today and Testament is offering up a chance for the fans to purchase shares in the song “Native Blood”. If they sell every single offering they will have raised $57,000 in capital.
However, while the offering is promoted like a Company IPO Share Offer, it is nothing of the sort. It’s all smoke and mirrors. The fans of the band are buying memorabilia. The band is using the connection that a fan might have with the song as its selling point. Being a shareholder on the “Native Blood” song will not entitle you to any royalty payments (provided that a thrash band with a cult status who make their money from touring would get any) however it will give you a chance to buy limited edition merchandise later on.
An artist music and career is a brand and brands aren’t built in a day. Testament has been at for a while. In the beginning they had some growth initially however that didn’t mean that they made it. Music is a competitive industry and consumers are becoming harder to reach. Every business brand is faced with the same problem. Bands and artist are no different to small businesses.
The difference is if the artist is NOT prepared to find creative ways to reach their fans than complacency will bring about the end. So Testament is trying new creative ways to engage with fans, but it’s still based on the one way model of selling something. But by always going back to the old product selling paradigm is precisely the way to go out of business today.
Markets are always changing and fans of music are always changing. What we value as important is changing and what we want to own is changing. I grew up with the focus to have a house and a car. My kids are growing up with the focus to have the latest tech and live at home.
The fans of music spoke out loud with Napster 15 years ago.
WE WANT ACCESS TO MUSIC.
And what does the recording industry and bands do? They fail to keep pace with the changing demands, values and needs of their fans. They chose to hang onto the past and in 2014 they are left wondering where their fans and profits went.
If we want more proof about the sales model for music slowly fading, look no further than all the MP3 stores that are either being killed off or reporting losses. In Australia, BigPond music was operated by our largest ISP, Telstra and they have now shut it down, focusing on MOG, their streaming service which is trying to compete against Spotify. They get it, consumer behaviour is changing, and Spotify has led the way in providing a service that responds to this shift and has had much success doing so to date.
For bands and artists to prosper they need to do things differently. They need to be genuine and willing to connect with their fans. The fans in the end want transparency, not smoke and mirrors. James Hetfield might cringe at the “Some Kind Of Monster” documentary, however that visual and transparent footage of a massive act breaking apart was touching and moving. Hell, there are people at Metallica shows today that have never purchased a Metallica album.
The value of the recorded music product is not the value that it once was. What is valuable is the service and the partnership. That is why we are living in the era of sharing and access. Sharing provided the service that the fans of music wanted. Which was access all along.
And when will artists learn that partnerships are absolutely key to ensure sustainable growth. If small businesses do it, why can’t artists do it. But everybody lives by selling something. So even though I don’t agree with Testament’s song share plan offer and the lack of transparency around it, they are trying something different which for a metal band that goes back into the era of Eighties is good to see.