UK-based digital platform Show4me got the industry talking back in January when it raised $12.8m to further develop its ‘Music Interaction Network’ – before subsequently increasing its industry profile at Midem in Cannes, France in June.
The company, owned by London-based Wefuture, initially started out as a crowdfunding platform for artists, but has since also expanded into new areas, including the launch of analytical tools to assist with tour planning, plus an innovative, $1-per-year artist subscription – or ‘Premium Fan’ membership offering.
By paying $1 annually via the platform, fans get unlimited access to their chosen artist’s music, as well as exclusive content, first news and access to live events.
The aim of the Show4me platform, according to its founder and CEO, Karen Chiftalaryan, is ultimately to “bring back the value of music as an artform, which has been devalued in the past few years”.
Via its combination of crowdfunding, subscription and analytics, Show4me says that it aims to tackle three standout issues it sees with the music business today:
- (i) The reliance by artists, managers and labels on streaming platforms which don’t effectively allow these parties to fully monetize their fanbases;
- (ii) The financial uncertainty surrounding concert tour planning – and the fiscal devastation caused by soft ticket sales;
- (iii) The dispersion of artist fanbases over various social media platforms, making it difficult to speak to them all as a community.
Here, Karen Chiftalaryan (pictured) explains more about why he believes these factors are holding many artists back from realizing their monetary potential in the modern music industry – and why Show4me thinks it can offer solutions…
You say that you don’t believe music streaming “pays off” for many artists out there. Why do you believe this is?
Today’s music industry has only a few main monetization models that artists and record labels can choose from – with music streaming becoming increasingly dominant. Despite overall industry revenues growing, individual artists, along with independent record labels, are forced to contend with low payouts from streaming’s biggest platforms.
Making matters worse, you then add into this situation “stream farms” which are driving hundreds of millions of dollars of fraud. [Recent industry estimates from Rolling Stone suggest this “stream fraud” could be taking over $300m out of the pockets of legitimate artists and labels annually.]
And then there are complex profit distribution algorithms on these streaming services which diffuse profit amongst many people and do not reflect the popularity of artists with individual fans.
These factors are making streaming unsustainable for some artists, who are finding it harder and harder to make a living.
Why do you think your $1-per-year Premium Fan membership model can bridge that gap?
It is simple maths. In order to earn $1,000 from streaming platforms, an artist needs to generate around 300,000 streams – which might take hundreds of thousands of fans. But to earn $1,000 from our [Premium Fan] model, it only takes 1,000 true fans. To put it another way, gaining a $1 [subscription] from one true fan is like getting paid for 300 streams upfront from one fan. So, in simple words, it means that one fan listened to the music of the specific artist up to 300 times instantly. It’s not usual at all when you get 300 listenings from one fan.
Also, Show4me doesn’t have any complex algorithms of profit distribution – you get a full amount of money pledged by your fans to your music, minus Show4me’s fee. This model also eliminates the possibility of stream fraud achieved on major streaming platforms by “stream farms” which are stealing royalties from legitimate artists and labels.
Another aspect of Show4me is help with the planning of tours and concerts via both crowdfunding and analytics. How does that work?
With music streaming not delivering the money artists need, plotting a live tour is essential, but it comes with severe financial risks. Ideally, artists and their promoters require a tool which helps them accurately forecast demand, and therefore gain a return on investment.
Getting a tour right can result in significant monetary success for artists, but in some cases concert promoters and venues are simply unable to predict how many fans will pay to come to a show. As many artists know, bad ticket sales don’t only mean zero income – they also mean an act can lose a large amount of investment. [Soft ticket sales] are a disaster for venues, too.
“As many artists know, bad ticket sales don’t only mean zero income – they also mean an act can lose a large amount of investment.”
Show4me’s crowdfunding-based model helps artists and concert promoters to plan and organize local or global concerts, tours, other music events based on true demand – which is backed by fans’ or pledgers’ money.
This fully eliminates the risk of cancelled shows and empty seats, freeing you from needing to invest your own or loaned money in live music event organization. On Show4me, fans pledge for concerts, tours, events and [the creation of] music albums to support artists they like. If a campaign doesn’t reach its funding goal, all pledgers automatically get a full refund at no charge. It’s truly a risk-free and a win-win way of running a profitable music business.
Fans enjoy being involved in the music creation process of their favorite artists. Artists and concert promoters, on the other hand, have their music activities and crowdfunding campaigns organized in one place – in their Show4me Artist Club.
Your third big bugbear with the modern music business is the fragmentation of fanbases online via various social media platforms. Why is that, and why do you think Artist Club is the solution?
Fans are the heart and the main source of revenue for each and every artist, and the music business. But today is that it is not always easy to know those fans. Listeners are gathered here and there in the multiple social media accounts of the artist.
This variety of platforms takes away the focus from true fans, and at the same time, makes it harder and harder for artists to promote music which attracts their fans again and again. Also, artists are unable to get detailed statistics on the number of their fans, and they cannot effectively interact and communicate with them which leads to strong artist-fan bonds.
Show4me’s Artist Club offers a single account to accumulate, expand and retain a global fanbase of true fans. It is the place where you can attract fans from various platforms and social media, and ‘filter’ true fans from just casual followers. At the same time, these fans will remain your fans, plus, you are getting a full access to direct communication without any paid ads in order to reach your fans.
After you have done that, you can directly interact with the most devoted admirers and retain them by constantly sharing interesting content with them. It allows you to be aware of their preferences and their geography, while you can also track ticket and album sales [on the Show4me platform] in one place as well.
Accordingly, Show4me makes it possible to transform, or say filter the followers into real fans and answer the main question for every business-minded music professional: what is my fan base and their geography?
We see Show4me as a space where artists can get a genuine appreciation and fair reward for their commitment to music, and where their art is backed by their true fans and thankful listeners.
Those keen to check out Show4Me and join the company’s ‘Artist Club’ can do so through here.Music Business Worldwide