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04/29/2010

Independent Artist Portal

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Been looking recently for a site that does what I want to do and am finding a few things that are close, but none that are spot-on what I think would be ideal for both artists and the business built to serve them.

The closest is ArtistShare.com, but they miss the mark on a couple of fronts. First, they're expensive. Second, their model doesn't incentive the artists to generate content for the site (what I mean is, the artist gets paid the same regardless of how much material they contribute to the "share" portion of the program-if they put up one photo a month they get paid the same as making a daily audio, video, and textual progress report). Third, they don't allow for a monthly subscription option. But other than that, I like the general look/feel and functionality (horizontal timeline; allows for audio, video, image, and text content uploads; fan base communication tools).

I first heard about Kevin Kelly's notion of "1,000 true fans" from Will Wheaton's blog. Will, being a writer, makes a good point that the first obstacle to the idea that 1,000 fans x $100 per year = $100,000 in income is that he's not sure he could even create $100 worth of material a year even if he had 1,000 true fans.

Would you pay $8.33 per month to follow a favorite artist's progress from conception to completion? Over 12 months, that'd be $100. Using the "1,000 true fans" formula, that'd make for a pretty decent income for the artist.

Other "fan-funded" sites (do a web search on "fan funded" and you'll find them all) seem to exist to help fund projects before the project is begun. You propose a project and if enough people are interested in seeing it completed to contribute, the project happens...but only after the fact of being fully funded. And then shares of the returns are disbursed among the "investors". I'm talking NOT about pre-funding projects that don't yet exist. I'm talking about documenting projects as they happen and providing a content-stream of sufficiently rich material that its worth subscribing to.

The monthly subscription angle would incentive participating artists to keep making new content available in the progress of the project, because subscribers would be able to unsubscribe, and resubscribe later, but only ever have access to the months they subscribed to, so it would be very much in their best interest to make each and every month loaded with content.

There could be zero up front cost for the artists (because they're so heavily incentived to generate content), and the service could simply take a percentage (10%?) of the subscription fees as they're paid.

If someone wants to code this puppy up, I'd be more than willing to beta test.
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Dan Waber
 
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