When it comes to viral success, Brandon Martinez knows that lightning rarely strikes twice.
Martinez is the CEO/Co-founder of INDMUSIC, the multi-channel network that helped monetize the “Harlem Shake.” Thanks to INDMUSIC’s technology, every time you watch the Miami Heat or the UGA swim and dive team or your grandparents interpret this upsettingly resilient meme, artist Baauer and his label Mad Decent get a cut.
Now that the “Harlem Shake”‘s prolonged meme-cycle has come to a close, Martinez isn’t waiting around for the next viral hit to fall into his lap. Instead he’s looking to strike strategic partnerships with companies that share his mission of helping artists better navigate digital spaces. And today, INDMUSIC is announcing its first post-”Shake” partnership as it teams up with PledgeMusic, a music crowdfunding platform that focuses on direct-to-fan interaction.
The idea is to combine INDMUSIC’s expertise at optimizing an artist’s presence on YouTube with PledgeMusic’s platform, which allows for a wide array of engagement opportunities with fans. The opportunities offered by PledgeMusic include traditional-style crowdfunding, soliciting donations to charities, and selling “experiences” like playing at a fan’s house party or letting fans hang out with the band during rehearsal.
This emphasis on finding unique ways to engage with listeners is what attracted Martinez to PledgeMusic. “Pledge’s team is always looking for new opportunities for their artists to further their revenue streams after the album has been released,” Martinez says. “Helping artists own their presence on YouTube seemed like a natural next step.”
As consumers and distributors move toward subscription models, and as content creators continue to see a smaller piece of the profits, finding unique ways to collect revenue from fans is more crucial than ever. In fact, PledgeMusic isn’t the only music platform to offer “experiences” as a way to make money, with Bandpage launching a similar feature last month.
But realistically-speaking, how many consumers are willing to pay for “a movie and dinner with the band” or some of the other experiences PledgeMusic suggests on its site?
Martinez says it’s less about trying to convince as many people as possible to pay for “guitar lessons” with the band and more about offering memorable, endearing experiences to the die-hards, giving them even more reasons to spread the word about their favorite band. “That base are the ones who share videos, Tweet, and post about their favorite artists before anyone else has ever heard of them,” Martinez says.
With PledgeMusic serving as fundraiser and fan club, and INDMUSIC helping artists use powerful technological tools to broaden their audience, the two companies are looking to build a new model for bands to find success in the digital age, far-removed from the traditional gate-keeper A&R model used by record companies for decades. And while it may not be a recipe for a viral phenomenon like “The Harlem Shake,” it could provide an opportunity to hardworking, talented bands that otherwise might never have left the garage.