Recently, I discovered Indian street metal. The band (Bloodywood) aren’t signed to a major label. They’re half way across the world, making great music. The only reason I discovered them is because people are starting to move away from the traditional record label model of music promotion. Social media comes in for a lot of criticism, but the combo of platforms like Facebook with subscription sites is already starting to change things. The change is in the early stages, but the benefits are already obvious.
Patreon is an example of the first steps in this evolution. It has its problems, but it enables bands like Bloodywood to make their music, funded directly by the fans. I’m a subscriber, and I get my name on their next music video – a fantastic thing for a fan, and something which would never happen if they were funded by a label. They can experiment, have fun, and make the music that they want to.
Amanda Palmer has seen the same light. She’s gone from making albums because she had to, under contract to a label, to making the music that she wants to. In return for a few dollars a month, her fans get to hear her music first, talk directly to her, buy tickets to gigs first, and even contribute to her art. Her music and videos have an honesty that is deeply moving, and that could not happen unless she was directly funded and able to steer her own career.
GTH is the next step because as well as providing this freedom for the artists, it also rewards the fans. I discovered Bloodywood when a friend posted a link on Facebook. I’ve posted links to their videos, and encouraged others to listen to them. I’ve done the same with other artists (including crafters). The only benefit for me is the joy of sharing something that I’m passionate about. GTH will reward people like me, who love to share. And it’s free of the Patron funding model. As everyone on Patreon discovered last year, they’re at the mercy of changes to the funding model. When the costs to subscribers were suddenly increased, they lost followers. The outrage caused them to reverse the policy but it exposed serious issues with the model, which ultimately exists to make money for Patreon. That’s an uncomfortable position for artists to be in.
I’m excited about GTH, and seeing where this next stage in the freedom of artists will go!