What’s the solution for how to survive as a struggling musician in the 21rst Century?
According to Wired Magazine editor Kevin Kelly’s article, 1,000 True Fans, an artist needs to find only 1,000 core fans — defined as those who will buy everything produced by the artist. If each ‘True Fan’ is willing to give up a day’s wage ($100) each year to support the artist, then an artist can earn $100,000 per year.
It’s a simple formula for artist success and it is exactly the path that Calabash is currently developing to allow fans to microfund working musicians. Calabash is changing the way the world finances music by applying the principles of microfinancing to the music industry.
This is impressive – crossover from international development ideas to music. The important idea here, and the difference between something like emusic/magnatune is that instead of framing the buyer’s contribution to the artist as a percentage of the sale price, which makes understanding one’s total contribution difficult (what’s 1385 x 0.75 x 65c in dollars?) this system foregrounds the total contribution one makes and connects it with the artists total income. The system appears to be currently designed in the style of Wikipedia-style “fund drives”, with a chart tracking the current contributions vs the overall goal.
What is interesting about this is that it is easier for someone to make a value estimation on an artists’ music and pay appropriately, but also to know how well (or badly) a favourite artist is doing, and pitch in appropriately. If I find my favourite Garifuna musician is barely scraping by at $35,000 a year, I’ll put more of my music budget towards him than, say, Bjork. Not only is this more power to the artists, this is also more power to the people.
~ posted by arvind