Direct to Fan (D2F), the process of getting information from artist to fans without the need of middleman brokering, has become the standard release tool used by indie artists. D2F is convenient, a logical technique used to maximise potential earnings, while providing fans with music they want to hear and projects they want to buy.
The amount of “product” available within the D2F model has no limit. Often products are condensed to the traditional bundle of music/merch/tickets, but can extend into non-physical product such as streaming video, home concerts, private endorsements, or album credits.
Despite control and flexibility there is still a large gap between churning a profit and hitting the red financially by using D2F techniques. Assuming you’re looking to make a living with D2F tactics, four fundamental principals may assist an artist in turning projects into cash instead of overstocked inventory.
1. Control your product
Pending the country of residency, instantly file copyrights on relevant work and file for trademark protection. The basic D2F platform relies upon music and merch, both of which contain intellectual property entanglements. Because of budget constrictions, indie groups tend to use photographer friends to take promo pictures, designer friends to construct the band logo and graphic designer buddies to develop posters and T-shirt concepts. Unfortunately most of these arrangements are secured with a handshake because at the time of consent, long-term legal implications are typically unforeseen. Without formally securing rights to the work, technically artists don’t own the material. The aforementioned works are assets and provide long tailed income but without ownership, the potential income can be restricted.
2. Bring value to the project
Far too many bands release music expecting awaiting fans to drool over the material. This mentality may work if you’re looking to maintain existing fans, but if the goal is to develop new enthusiasts, D2F product must break the sound barrier in order to capture new followers. To do so, D2F tactics must rewrite the traditional release.
Experiment. It’s important to bring something unique into the marketplace, whether it is bundles, design, or product – strive to create a niche market. If an artist’s product taps into a specific niche, then opportunities may arise for cross-promotional platforms, company partnerships, endorsements and even corporate underwriting – all of which aid in expanding income beyond the D2F bundle.
3. Have a roadmap
Bands are businesses. It’s up to them to determine how their company should be run. Managers, agents, accountants and attorneys will be hired, advice will be given, contracts reviewed and financial guidance structured, but at the end of the day the band’s the Boss. Have a strategy going in and define your success. A D2F release may insinuate ultimate control, but could equate to lower sales. What’s more important to the group – control or money? In order to keep release strategies on track and the group’s vision in order, write down the goals so that they can be referenced. In addition, securing internal agreements between members and rights holders remains a critical aspect to developing a business. Without this foundation established, issues will inevitably arise, causing more problems and concerns as opposed productive progression.
4. Know your outlets
Now more then ever, the music industry has a treasure chest of resources. Bands, regardless of their country of origin, have access to millions with the click of a button. Fund raising, physical distribution, licensing, concert steaming, digital distribution, you name it – it’s available to anyone, anywhere, at anytime. Understand what sources are available, and more so, which outlets can assist the D2F platform.
Martin Frascogna’s practice, Frascogna Entertainment Law, is specialised in advising DIY artists. Frascogna will take part in one training and one mentoring session at midem, January 28. Full details here.
You can also see him in our “Why D2F?” video, here