Look, it’s no secret that the music industry as a whole, and metal music specifically, is undergoing a paradigm shift. Streaming, piracy, new business models and more are putting a dent into the presuppositions and assumptions which have kept it going in the past few years. More and more, we find bands turning to alternative financing models, whether it be subscription models like Protest the Hero or crowdsourcing like…too many bands to name right now, but sikTh, Aliases, Painted in Exile and Leprous spring to mind. That being said, what these new models mean and how they work is still very much a new field: what do fans expect in return and how does it affect their perception of the band? What should bands ask for and when?
However, these questions aren’t stopping more and more bands turning to these models. In a world where getting paid for your music is the best case scenario, can you blame them? Today, Ne Obliviscaris joined this list and, in addition to a simple funding campaign, they’ve also taken on the industry. To do so, they’ve chosen Patreon, an intriguing and successful website which allows fans to become “patrons”. More than backers, patrons consistently give money over time: $5, $10, even $200 per month, giving the band a steady cash flow rather than a single influx of funds.
As Tim Charles says in the video above, the idea of Patreon is to allow bands to do thing they never could before, under the current economic climate. Touring, ambitious releases and high end merch are all things which are usually beyond the grasp of anyone but the largest bands around. All one needs to do to fully grasp the challenges facing bands, is scroll down to the financial breakdown NeO included on their page:
To be more specific, on our Oct/Nov 2015 European Tour with Cradle of Filth our total gross income from Performance Fees and Merchandise Sales for the 33 shows combined was $46,789AUD. Once again, that probably sounds like a lot until you realise that when you add up our international flights, bus hire for 6 1/2 weeks, petrol, tolls, UK Work Visa’s, UK wireless permits, Ferries, Merchandise, Booking Agent Fees, Sound Engineer, Backline Hire & more we had more than $67,433AUD in expenses. So the final result from that tour was a LOSS of $20,644AUD ($14,625USD/13,504 Euro) and honestly that is with us doing quite well compared to many other bands.
However, NeO appears to be going one step further. Take a look at their reward tree: instead of offering the usual perks, increasing in size as you increase your donation, they’re bringing in fans into the fold. Higher tiers give you tickets to show, exclusive access to the writing process, and unparalleled access to the band themselves. Thus, the idea is not just to handle Patreon as a store, with some exclusives thrown in, basically allowing fans a different, more direct approach to consumerism, but to create a following.
This is an interesting take on something we’ve discussed before and plan to tackle even more in the future. For a band to survive, it needs to shake the image of stadiums upon stadiums of fans and instead focus on a hard-core group of fans, people willing to travel to see them and support their endeavors on a monthly/daily basis. This is what NeO seem to be shooting for. Whether this is the consumer revolution that they herald on their Patreon page remains to be seen; for now it’s a better model for fans and bands alike to handle the financial side of making music and probably the only one that can allow NeO to keep existing on a world stage.
If you’re so inclined, please head over to their Patreon page and consider giving them something. Anything you can help; this works on momentum so even the lowest donation makes sense. We’ve seen a lot of these campaigns and few of them are as smoothly run as this one. Everything is up front, the rewards make sense and the band is committed. This is a prime example of how to address the weaknesses of the crowdsourcing model and we applaud NeO for taking this approach. As far as we’re concerned, it’s an example of how these should be done and the band deserve all your support. Oh, and they also make amazing music and we’d like them to keep going. There’s also that.