A New Era for Artists

In Blog, Industry by Live Bash

I love Taylor Swift but my reasons for being a Swiftie are less about her music (which don’t get me wrong, I love!) and more about her savvy business acumen and ability to connect deeply with her massive fan base.  

Taylor’s ambitious project to recreate her early career music catalog into “Taylor’s Versions” is the first thing that made me really think deeply about the flawed system behind artist ownership and rights.  (And for non-Swifties, some context:  Taylor re-recorded much of her music from the first 10 years of her career and called each of these new recordings “Taylor’s Version” in order to reclaim the creative rights and monetary control over the songs from her early label.) And because Taylor has such a large and engaged fan base, Swifties have responded and made the “Taylor’s Version” project a massive commercial success. I am one of the many fans who is now a proud owner of several Taylor’s Version albums.

But the time and money that Taylor made to record Taylor’s Versions was significant and that level of investment risk is not feasible for most artists. Fortunately, artists have a new way to take back control at the onset of creation with a powerful new web capability called blockchain. Blockchain technology enables artists (and content creators of any kind!) to create unique digital content with all relevant rights and terms written permanently in a digital contract. This enables artists to maintain control and sell to fans on their own terms.  At Live Bash, we call these digital collectibles.  

So why are digital collectibles and this new era of the internet so important for artists?

Artists Get Paid

Music has never been more accessible than it is today, which would seemingly translate into increased earnings, right?  Not exactly.  Streaming services are convenient for passive consumption, but the payouts for artists are notoriously low. Social platforms are great for content discovery, but offer little to no monetization for artists directly. The result is artists are getting paid less than ever, despite fans listening more than ever. 

The concept of ownership has always been important for artists and their fans but the medium for that ownership was previously anchored in physical media such as CDs, tapes and vinyl.  With digital collectibles, fans can translate the experience of owning a physical album or concert DVD to the digital realm and directly support their favorite artist. The benefit artists and fans get is multifaceted. First, by purchasing exclusive content, fans know that the majority of that money goes straight to the artist’s pocket. Artists and fans are directly connected through ownership, with fandom being marked publicly via digital ownership. And not only do artists control the price, quantity and terms of these digital assets, they can also use them as gates for providing other exclusive fan experiences that help them engage fans directly without the intervention of intermediaries. 

“[A]n entire ecosystem is emerging that allows creators to connect directly with fans and sell them exclusive content, experiences, and merchandise,” says music industry analyst,  Mark Mulligan, highlighting the shift towards artist-driven revenue streams.

Artists Own Fan Relationships

The new era this enables extends far beyond that of just about buying a song or a music video – it’s about becoming a patron of the artist. Fans can own a piece of their favorite artist’s journey, collecting behind-the-scenes content, unreleased tracks, or even limited edition digital artwork. Artists are able to continually connect with digital collectible owners and extend benefits exclusively for these fans. The creative opportunities this opens up for artists and fans to build relationships are endless and unlike any capability artists have had before. Imagine if Taylor could have opened up ticket sales for her Eras tour to her earliest collectible owners and fans first! 

“[These] developments are empowering a new generation of creators to build sustainable careers outside of the traditional music industry model,” says Rolling Stone magazine, emphasizing the power artists now have to build direct relationships with their audience.

“Taylor’s Version”… but For All Artists

Digital collectibles eliminate the need for a robust ecosystem of middlemen and platforms who take a cut and establish deal terms. Since artists can distribute their content directly to fans, they keep more control over their creations and ensure their work attributes the right compensation to the right stakeholders, both now and in the future. Said another way, this work has the potential to eliminate the need for the massive undertaking that went into creating and releasing “Taylor’s Versions” and it’s a technology that we’re making accessible to all artists.  

And even though Taylor hasn’t created a collectible with Live Bash (yet!), Taylor was pivotal in teaching us all the power and importance of ownership and the art of connecting with fans. Which is why we are so excited to be celebrating the launch of her new album, which was made purely on her terms. If you’re in Chicago, join us on April 26th, 2024 for a Swiftie Dance Party. We’ll be celebrating fandom, ownership and the future of entertainment anchored in empowering artists and fostering direct connections with fans. Tickets available here