If the RIAA is wondering if there’s an alternative to suing every teenager or credulous granny who even twitches in the direction of an mpeg codec, they should check out Artistshare. Artistshare is a cool alternative music business model in which fans support the creative process of musicians financially, in exchange for an inside view of the artistic process, a personal connection with the musician, a bunch of cool swag and the satisfaction of allowing an artist to fulfill their vision without bowing to the arbitrary whims of record industry sleaze cats.
Fans who support ArtistShare musicians receive perks such as early samples of songs, signed CDs, online composition lessons, and even free concert tickets. Musicians get something too. ArtistShare helps them build their websites and develop their fan base online. When an artist wants to record an album and needs money to rent studio time or hire backup musicians, the ArtistShare team develops a menu of options for fans to support the project. For instance, $20 or $30 might get you an advance version of a new recording, $400 could include an autographed copy of the score, and for $3,000, an artist will compose a song for you. Jazz singer Allan Harris recently posted a solicitation for $15,000 in exchange for “executive producer” status on his next album. ArtistShare gets a percentage of the money raised through the offering and a lifelong commission on sales of the final recording.
Sure, you can’t really see Mariah Carey surviving at a company in which she’d actually have to solicit the loathsome plebs in order to spray her screeching, Linda Blair like, into an electrified tin can. But it still shows that there’s room in the music market for completely different business models… ones that respects customers enough to allow them to take part in a creative dialogue with an artist, as opposed to being treated like either consumerist meat puppets or de facto criminals.