With albums sales declining massively in the last two decades, musicians have had to seek out alternative financing options to continue making a living from their craft. Many have turned to crowdfunding platforms, offering greater access and rewards to fans who support their work in advance. Now, entrepreneurial musician Ryan Leslie is extending this tactic, by inviting fans to support his entire future career via his Disruptive Multimedia business.
Leslie’s next release — MZRT.Life — will be a sprawling 120+ song project, which will include an initial 12 song release plus a song a month thereafter until he retires. The lifetime concept album will be available to 1000 supporters who can choose from various support packages with subscriptions starting from USD 1 per month. Supporters will receive the monthly creations as well as contact with the artist powered by his DMM Superphone: a device which enables the artist to directly interact with his fans via conference lines and SMS messages. The more elaborate fan packages offer perks such as a request line playing one of his songs, a monthly call to his studio line during recording, and even a 10 minute personal phone call once a month.
The DMM Superphone also enables artists to manage their audience via an address book — containing information about each fan’s music, ticket and merchandise purchases. The system is also used by artists 50 Cent and Talib Kweli and is currently in private Beta. Could artists in other industries use this model to finance sustainable, long-term careers?