The new musicians on the scene are open to expanding their reach in ways never thought possible before. From tipping schemes to membership clubs and now the much talked about OnlyFans.
Yes, the OnlyFans that is largely a site saturated with sex workers and porn stars selling exclusive content for a monthly fee. However, times are changing and the platform is seeing a new type of content creator signing up… Musicians.
Since the pandemic came into full effect so many musicians and artists hit social media hard. Giving away tons of valuable content for free in the hopes of keeping their fans entertained and their name out there on the virtual circuit.
Using Instagram, YouTube, Twitch and many other platforms to livestream their talents, skills and expertise for the world to see. However, most of these channels were not optimised for artists to make an income.
Though musicians would get amazing visibility and keep their brand strong – they were not getting paid.
It feels like the internet has become oversaturated by quality content from musicians that’s not being monetised. Such a shame, right?
Over the past two weeks there have been some controversies brewing as major musicians have moved some of their content over to OnlyFans.
Though the platform was initially made for sexual content kept behind a paywall so amateur performers could cash in on the porn boom without having to give away any earnings to studios and the like – change is afoot.
Recently, OnlyFans has become super popular with fitness stars, musicians and other entertainers.
Bella Thorne is rumoured to make in excess of $2 million in just a single week since she jumped on to the OnlyFans bandwagon. The main difference being that she hasn’t shared any explicit content like her fellow content creators on the platform.
Cardi B has since decided to give it a go herself and has created an account – a smart move for a woman so hotly debated – loved and hated in equal measures. Her R-rated content she bountifully shares on Instagram will do well behind OnlyFans’ paywall because lots of people give a sh*t about what she has to say.
Her fans that sign up to her OnlyFans will pay $4.99 per month and have that exclusive feeling – a feeling of belonging to something that not every is a part of.
The name of the game with OnlyFans is that you can share raw, unfiltered and most importantly exclusive content. To access it you simply register to pay a monthly fee to whoever it is you’re interested in following.
We’ve become so accustomed to creating so much content for free because of Instagram, YouTube, etc. requiring you to do so to have a presence there. Now we’re seeing a change happening where people are questioning what they can make exclusive and earn directly from it.
Not everybody has a big enough YouTube following to make money from ads, etc. So, the next best way to make some money through content creation is to slap it behind a paywall.
Subscription based products are skyrocketing every year. If the large businesses can do it so successfully then so can us smaller guys out here trying to get a piece of the pie.
Although, what is it that people are happy to pay for that doesn’t mean you need to go topless to make some coin? Though if that’s your vibe, you do you!
My expertise and focus over the last few years has been how to monetise content. I’ve gone into several companies and built a structure so their content makes them money. In some cases the content became the revenue.
Additionally I gave people the tools to use content to continue building trust and loyalty with their customer base – this in turn helps to increase the upsell and word of mouth recommendations.
Content marketing is what it’s all about and most importantly: value based content.
That’s why I’ve created my whole business around creating valuable content. My products, they’re content too. The genius thing about the tools available online is that you can start getting paid for content.
Creating a paywall for content you share… is a product.
My online course is a collection of pre-recorded videos that require payment to access – it’s exclusive for my customers. It’s one of my value based content products.
When I changed lanes and started working within the music industry I discovered that Deadmau5 had a subscription based content platform. Customers pay $5 per month to access exclusive content and personal engagement from Deadmau5. Of course, this was made for his superfans.
Most musicians focus solely on earning a big chunk of their revenue through brand endorsements and partnerships. While Deadmau5 went one step further and created a business around his fans as well as working with brands. Multiple revenue streams is the end goal of any business, right?
Musicians make products around their music in the beginning. So you have: music, merchandise, show tickets, etc. These are all focused around your music and you sell them directly to your fans.
Because of streaming and new technologies, making money from your actual fans is becoming even more difficult.
Deadmau5’s approach to identifying a shift in the industry and offering subscription based services has paved the way in some respect for the rest of the music business to create a community around your brand with loyal fans.
It’s not just the music world that’s experiencing this shift in content based marketing. Every industry is utilising content in new ways to promote their products or services.
For example, a pharmaceutical company used to advertise on TV and in newspapers. Now they are also creating interactive online content, educational bites and tips on how to use their products. The world is changing rapidly.
Then the humble musician moved over to start using content based marketing too in a DIY fashion. But, they terribly lack monetising this content…
SO, let’s take a closer look at how musicians can start making money using exclusive content:
Who is Your Audience?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: now is the end of mass marketing.
You cannot start your music career nowadays with the goal of being played on the top radio stations.
Distribution has become so much more far reaching since the internet came along and you can whittle down your audience to a very specific market.
Whenever I ask a musician who their audience is, they always tend to stay very general and extremely broad. Sure, everyone can technically like your music but how are you going to reach absolutely everyone in an efficient way?
Being specific in who you want your audience to be allows you to attract people a lot easier. We’re absolutely bombarded with people trying to get our attention these days. The only way you’re gonna get anyone to listen is to spark a personal interest in them.
Your early adapters, the guys who follow you at the very beginning of your career, these are the fans who have the potential to be your superfans. Loyal for life and will follow your every move. These are the ones who will likely sign up to pay a monthly fee for exclusive content.
You need to start looking at building your fanbase as a direct, personal, community driven strategy that allows you to connect with people so deeply they want to pay to see you.
If you know who your audience is, you also know where they hang out.
Are they active on Reddit? Then you should be on Reddit. Are they spending hours on Pinterest browsing inspiration? Then maybe you should consider hanging out there.
If you know their online behaviour you can create your engagement profiles/accounts exactly where they are already hanging out and begin moving them over to your other channels. You do this by giving value, engaging, asking questions – then once a rapport is built, you drop in some promo chat.
Knowing your audience helps to create inspiration for your music creation as well as social media content. Create content around what you know about them and what they enjoy.
What are they involved with? What interests do they have? Do you research and do it in a way that makes them feel part of something.
Once you’ve figured this out you can attract the right kind of fans that are likely to become your superfans, your early adapters, the guys who follow you anywhere. You need to find your niche audience, get specific with the content you make and understand why they would pay for exclusive content from you.
2. What is Your Value?
You can give value through your music as well as through your content on the internet.
Obviously music is your core value, however, in order to create a community around it is done through engaging online and offline (at gigs) while creating valuable content.
The content you share online needs to reflect your personality and identity alongside your music.
Because of social media and the internet you’re able to be super specific about your brand.
The good news is that your brand is simply a reflection of your real identity and personality. You no longer need to try and fit in, the more you stand out, the better.
It’s time to show who you are to the world, unapologetically. Give potential fans and followers a reason to really become obsessed with you.
Remember when you had moments of not having anyone to look up to or be inspired by? It’s because there wasn’t much variety for a long time. Now that is so very different. The more specific you can be, the better.
Every time you post something you should ask yourself “what are my fans getting from this?”.
3. What is Your Format?
When you combine valuable content in a format and you put a price on it, you have essentially created a product.
Deadmau5 shares exclusive content while he games and his music process, all on the other side of a paywall. You can also engage directly with him too which converts so many fans into superfans instantly.
Finding what his fans wanted, he’s created a way to get them to hand over cash to get more of it. They feel like they’re part of an exclusive club. The modern take on a fan club is here to stay.
The difference with these new fan clubs is that the discount codes and pre-download priority deals aren’t enough. Fans want real behind the scenes, exclusive, personal content that makes them feel involved. They want to feel like they’ve got access to the green room.
By creating exclusive content for your fans, you’ll start monetising your identity, personality or expertise (or all three).
The fans already following you on Instagram and your other channels will need more than what you’re already providing. What else can you give that they’d be willing to pay for?
If you’re a vlogger then perhaps start sharing the R-rated content or behind the scenes footage with a more personal touch and a lot less polished so it seems real.
Educators in music can do Q&A’s and give tutorials/tips behind the paywall that are more advanced in their substance.
Start testing out formats here and see what converts to paying subscribers. Of course, some of this content will make its way out of OnlyFans and onto the general internet for all to see, but that’s just life.
Why not hold exclusive gigs for the subscribers too? Collaborate with other artists that’s only available behind the paywall. Use the paywall to do charity gigs and really drive some traffic by announcing it across your other channels. Make it worthwhile for people to sign up.
4. Test Pricing Models
As I mentioned before, the best pricing model is definitely a subscription. Creating a low cost subscription payment plan allows you to focus on creating value for your current superfans as well as converting more of your regular fans over to paid subscribers/membership.
Let’s look at Deadmau5 again, he charged $5 per month for his membership, which is very low if you’re a loyal follower and pay out multiple times a year for music, etc. If he converts 10,000 of his followers then he makes $50,000 every month they’re signed up.
Remember, we used to want to pay for albums and we still go crazy for merchandise; so the buying power is definitely still there.
But in order to create a monthly subscription for fans to be part of you must be consistent with the content you share on it. Sharing enough value is the key to keeping people subscribed.
The best way to start testing pricing models is to announce a one-off product. See what types of products your fans are willing to pay for. When a pattern begins to emerge then you know what will make a good subscription model.
5. What is Your Platform?
For those of you with very little technical expertise you should use OnlyFans or Patreon. These platforms already have structures in place and easy to understand payment options.
However, if you’re going to focus on this part of your business, you may want to invest in some technical help to get a “membership portal” on your website (like Deadmau5).
There are pros and cons to both strategies. Patreon and OnlyFans already have traffic on the platforms. People trust the name and know where their money is going. However, using somebody else’s platform means you need to stick to their rules and surrendering a percentage of your revenue.
Hosting your own ‘gateway’ on your website keeps the control in your hands. Your website should be the home of all your digital channels and by adding a login page – you’re keeping your community close to your chest – and you own all the data!
However, the easiest way is to start using OnlyFans and test out some formats, valuable content and experiment until you get it right.
6. How Do You Convert?
This type of revenue income is another product in your portfolio, yay. Just like any other product, you need to slowly convert your following through engagement and content marketing from your other channels.
Giving away free content on your Instagram, Facebook, etc. you should always keep the 80% giving value rule and 20% promotional content to sell your product(s).
Sharing previews, teasers or something that triggers an interest in your product is the best way to move people over to a paid service to check it out.
You need to share the value and what’s in it for them. Why should they hit that link and spend their time looking before they even consider being a paid subscriber.
Perhaps you should share testimonials from people who have already paid/used it.
For example, you could share something like “if you want to know what happened, head over to my OnlyFans” with a video as a way to entice fans in.
When you’ve released new music to the general public, why not share a tutorial of how you made it over on the paid subscription site.
Making your content super exclusive is the key to monetising your content. And with the pandemic looking likely to go on for quite some time, now is the perfect time to embrace change and try new things.
The gigs aren’t gonna be rolling in any time soon unfortunately so try focusing your attention on creating a community around your music. One that gives so much value in many forms that your fans are telling friends about it too.
Start making money from your expertise, personality and identity as well as your music. Think creatively here, one shoe does not fit all. But if you crack it, you could be earning some nice dollar for what you’re already doing for free.