Last December, dance star Deadmau5 launched his own online subscription service for fans, hosted at live.deadmau5.com. It offered a mixture of news, chat and live streams, with free and paid tiers providing different levels of content and access.
Now that community has spawned an iPhone app, which went live on Apple’s App Store yesterday: “A subscription based digital destination he personally architected for fans to get direct access to premium content and intimate experiences,” as the blurb puts it.
The app offers the same features: live video; an audio player promising “unreleased music” as well as customised playlists; a chat room and “message boreds”; videos and a WTF? section delivering “the candid thoughts from deadmau5”.
He’s working with startup Upfront on the community, although it also has its own app offering similar content for stars including Robbie Williams, Maxwell and Michelle Williams. The new Deadmau5 app sells subscriptions as in-app purchases: $4.99 a month or $44.99 a year for “All-Access” membership.
It’s not the first time an artist has tried this kind of model. In 2012, Tiësto launched an iPhone app with similarly exclusive features behind a $5.99-for-three-months paywall – again, using Apple’s in-app purchases for billing (Bulletin, 10-Feb-12). It’s unclear how well it did: the app hasn’t been updated since February 2013 though.
Meanwhile, Crosby, Stills and Nash launched their CSN iPad app in October 2012 charging $3.99 a month or $39.99 a year for unreleased videos, music and photos, as well as merch discounts and community features. Again, it’s not known how commercially successful it’s been.
Can Deadmau5 make the model work? When the web version of his community launched, he certainly seemed engaged with it, although also aware of the challenges involved:
“soundcloud is free… so the publishers (for now) dont really care too much about the DRM … but when you say “hey im gunna launch a subscription site where people can just pay to have access to…. they flip a shit. (seriously, my phone blew the fuck up)” he told fans on Reddit last December.
“BUT… that’s just a deal ill have to make with my publishers… ill figure something out thats non-rapey and fair for both parties. the moral of the story is, i’ve had this idea forever… most publishers and labels are, still, completely overlooking the value of an artist created / driven subscription model. I guess it’s sink or swim for me.”