While we musicians may think we are unique in the way we run our business, there is much commonality between us. My research so far has revealed many recurring patterns and 6 archetypes found among Musicpreneurs. Meeting and speaking with artists further enriches my work.

Inthis 2-part blog post, we’ll talk about 6 major archetypes of Music Business Models (MBM). Here are the first 3: Experience, Patronage & Blogging.


1. Experience

The main goal of this MBM is to offer a multifaceted, holistic, curated experience. Most experiences have an underlying structure and narration for participants to follow. This structure can help maximise the participant’s appreciation of the experience.

An experience can entail (but not be restricted to) certain elements, such as live artistic performance, entertainment, interactivity with the narrative, use of multimedia, social interaction, sense of belonging/community, networking, post-performance follow-ups and so on. It can also be themed around a concept/cause (for example, Warhol’s business is around food).

Revenue streams can include ticket sales, memorabilia, up-sells of added value (backstage, VIP treatment, exclusive updates etc.), sponsorships, collaboration with brands, while a community of members can create a recurring income.

This model has clear strengths: an experience cannot be duplicated or pirated. Thus its main value is its scarcity. The fear of missing out attracts more people. It grows mainly through word of mouth.

Common challenges? Experiences cannot be scaled up easily, and they may involve high production costs.

How can you master experiences? Come up with a unique concept/angle, build a strong brand, organically develop a healthy community and add your personal touch.


2. Patronage

Art patronage is an old idea that has recently returned to popularity. Evolving from crowdfunding, micro-patronage (to be more precise) helps an art creator make a living through the recurring contributions of his/her most devoted fans – the superfans.

It’s pre-ordering, crowdfunding, community and subscription combined in one. Supporters pledge for every upcoming creation and, in exchange, the artist offers them exclusive rewards. The higher the bid, the more valuable the reward. These rewards may include early access, personalisation, dedicated artefacts, exclusivity, time with the artist, backstage access, and so on. The concept is built around trust and good will from both sides.

The sum of pledges creates a recurring revenue stream and peace of mind. Most artists will then release their creations for free, and for everyone to enjoy.

What this model benefits from: no fixed price or restriction – a fan can give as much as they want. Art’s value is subjective, after all. This way, the artist (you) know what your budget is, before you even create.

Common challenges? Most of the fans will choose to remain freeloaders. Building culture of patronage is time-consuming, even if you have a fanbase. What rewards and prices should you offer to entice them?

What can help you master patronage? Presenting an honest ‘why’ behind your art, taking patrons on the journey of your vision and sharing your art with them early to obtain feedback.


3. Blogging

The MBM of blogging aims to create an on-going narrative with sharable, curated online content. This is content which entertains and/or educates. Its long-term goal is to bring the audience along for the journey of the artist’s evolution.

The Medium is the Message: this online content can be delivered through video, podcasts, longform essays, social media, photos, bullet-point articles, audiobooks, interactive experiences – or a combination of the above. It usually describes the artist’s experience, lessons, thoughts or failures… in a mind-stimulating way. It’s all about the person behind the content.

The mindset here: most of the content is free. A small percentage of fans will pay for access to exclusive material, products related to the artist, a platform to connect, personalised content, a relationship with the artist, priority, and backstage material. Either on a recurring or one-off basis.

There is a great advantage in this model –  it supports sharing, transparency and open knowledge. The content is the marketing: the more the content spreads (through word of mouth, features, remixes etc.), the more audience it attracts back to the MBM. Additionally, it costs nothing to get started.

Common challenges? Finding a unique angle that can break through the noise. There are oceans of free online content and the audience’s attention span is very short.

What should you do in order to master blogging? Find your unique angle, refine your personal brand, create sharable content, and entice your superfans to connect and purchase.


The next day

If you want to get a grasp of the concept of Music Business Models, read my previous essay: MBM (101 | Design). Please get in touch with me here if you think that you or an artist you know has an interesting business model. Finally, since you read this all the way to the end, why not share this article with the world? Let’s create an environment of open knowledge! A small team of passionate patrons supported my research. Thanks.

Tommy Darker is an independent musician, thinker about the future of the music industry, and founder of Darker Music Talks, a series of discussions between experts and musicians. He will speak about Music Business Models at Midem Academy (June 7, 15.30).


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