Direct-To-Fans (D2F): Suitable Music Business Model For Upcoming Artistes By Paul McPetros

From lots of data and research, I can say that the future of the music industry is in the hands of the end-users (the music fans). They have the ultimate clout to change the course of things in the industry. No music fans, no revenue streams. Artistes, the upcoming ones, without record deals or proper structures to cater for their careers need to understand this and find a way to make their 'fans' theirs 'fams'.

The music industry at the moment is highly digitalized. And the digitalization of the industry was as a result of the evolution initiated by the digital native minds and millennials and not the record companies as popularly opined. What record companies did was to rise to the opportunity. They took advantage and leveraged on the millennials actions.

You can tell that, the place and role of the music fans - digital native minds and millennials - in the career of an artiste cannot be taken lightly. It must be considered with all seriousness. Artistes and record company executives must make use of business models that would allow them to benefit largely from the music fans. One of such music business model is Direct-To-Fans (D2F).

D2F is a music business model that allow artistes to make direct sales of their contents, have a first hand interaction and relationship with their fans without any formal or complex structure. The music business model is simple but effective and efficient if properly used. Using this model, artistes become entrepreneurship, conscious in selling and advocating for their contents. If artistes don't advocate for their contents, who will?

Artistes should view their contents as commodities. By so doing, they get to understand the whole concept of marketing, publicity and promotion as important means to reach out to their fans. Sometimes, we attach some good feelings to a particular product/service. Why? Because the product/service gained our attentions; held our interests; aroused our desires; convinced us and finally we were moved into actions i.e to purchase the product or hire the service. This can also be employ in music business. Artistes should be able to gain their fans attention; hold their interests; arouse their desires, convince them and move them into action - to purchase.

Direct-to-fans music business model is characterised by its unique MARKETING MIX. In 1990, Robert Lauternbum propounded the marketing mix for the D2F music business model. They are CONSUMER; COST; COMMUNICATION and CONVENIENCE. These marketing mix are different from the orthodox four 'Ps': PRODUCTS; PRICE, PROMOTION and PLACE. Lauternbum's marketing mix stand in contrast with the orthodox.

Let view them this way: 

Consumer vs. Product
Cost vs. Price
Communication vs. Promotion
Convenience vs. Place

In the traditional marketing mix, emphasis is placed on the product whether tangible or intangible. The product is KING. But according to Lauternbum, CONSUMERS should be the emphasis in the D2F business model. Whatever product you have to sell or market has a consumer. And your product wouldn't be consumed if the consumers decide not to buy. Artistes that seek to use the D2F should be ready to place great emphasis on their fans. And this doesn't suggest you care for the consumers at the detriment of your products (Music). No. Consideration should be placed on the music at the creation and production stage. At the marketing stage, the interest of the consumers should be put into consideration. What benefits would CONSUMERS enjoy in using this PRODUCT? Consumers are KINGS. They should be treated as one.

Explaining these two concepts can be tricky. Is there really a difference?

Communication, simply is the dissemination of information. And it is not complete until it reaches the receiver and there is a feedback. Communication is a two way street. From the sender to receiver. And from the receiver to the sender. While promotion is usually one way: action done in order to increase sales of a product/service; a set of advertisement. Feedbacks are not necessarily required. You just bombard the receivers with information about a product and don't care for their feedbacks.

The New Media - Social Media is both a tool for communication and promotion. Artistes should endeavor to maintain a maximum level of communication with their fans: react to comments; reply DMs; give answers to questions when asked etc. These actions would give your fans a sense of belonging. Your Social Media presence should be to communicate and not just promote your music. We want to know you; we want to feel close to you; we want to be part of your life. How can we? Via COMMUNICATION.

This is the age of comfort and convenience. Nobody want to be stressed. We want to enjoy the good life from the comfort of our homes. Artistes using the D2F model must understand this. Fans should be able to get or purchase your music at their convenience. And the internet is an enabler. With the digitalization of music industry, access to your music should be with ease. Your music should be on platforms that are familiar and peculiar to the demography of your fans. Study your consumers behavior. Know your market; know where your consumers are and take your music to them. They should enjoy the satisfaction of convenience - the quality of being useful, easy or suitable - whenever they want to vibe to your music.

A place like a physical market or a brick and mortar store should not be an option to get your products/services. The internet should be. And the delivery of your products/services should be excellent. Excellent service delivery is a cutting edge in the times we live in. If you own a digital store where your music are being sold or you distribute your music on others digital store, the digital store should be user-friendly, ease to access, less time/data consuming - CONVENIENT. Like mentioned above, study your CONSUMERS behavior. When you do that, it would afford use with the knowledge on how to satisfy your CONSUMERS at their CONVENIENCE. 

These MARKETING MIX should not only be applied in digital sales of music. But also in other areas like touring, conycert, merchandise etc. When scheduling for venues (place), date, time, price of tickets etc for a concert, you would have to put into consideration all the marketing mix. The PRODUCT/SERVICE here is the CONCERT. While preparations and planning for the concert are in progress, sampling the opinions of your CONSUMERS should be in progress too. The sampling of their opinions can be directly or indirectly of a portion of the population that would represent the whole population. The opinions sampled can be yardstick for the COST/PRICE of tickets; what means of COMMUNICATION should be use; would the final decision be at the CONVENIENCE of the CONSUMERS?

The D2F model is not a new revelation. It is an old music business model that has been proven to be effective and efficient. Upcoming artistes should maximize the potency of this model. And it should be use with creativity. There is no straight jacket on to be used. The creativity and flexibility you exercise in using this model would determine your level of result. This model is a stepping stone to upcoming artistes who want to go the alternative route of INDEPENDENCE.

Happy INDEPENDENCE to you as you tailor your career and music business to the D2F model. And there is a quick advice from Drew Holcomb: "It is the worst time ever to make a killing in the music business. It is the best time ever to make a living."

Paul McPetros is a music journalist and a music business wannabe executive. His mantra is, to share knowledge and provide solutions. You can contact him on Facebook; Instagram; Twitter @paulmcpetros

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