The idea of 1,000+ ‘true fans’ who’ll spend lots of money on a favourite artist, and the popularity of crowdfunding campaigns with tiers of increasingly valuable rewards are both well established. But can a value be put on these incremental revenues for artists and the music industry? Nielsen thinks so: at SXSW yesterday it unveiled some research claiming that there may be anywhere between $450m and $2.6bn of incremental income up for grabs. “Fans want more. There is an unmet need there,” explained chief analytics officer Barara Zack, according to Billboard. “There is a desire to engage at a different level than what they have.” The study digs deeper into the most active fans – “aficionados” – claiming that 53% would be willing to pay for exclusive content while a favourite artist is recording their album. The platforms certainly exist to tap into this “unmet need”, from Kickstarter and PledgeMusic through to artists’ own online stores and (most recently) BandPage Experiences. The challenge is for artists and labels to make the best use of them – which doesn’t mean thinking about fans as mere cash-cows to be milked.

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