There are dozens of direct-to-fan (D2F for short) platforms available in 2014 for artists and labels wanting to sell music, tickets, merchandise and experiences to fans online.

It’s exciting in one sense: more opportunities for artists to make money from and around their music, to build sustainable careers and keep making that music. But it can also be intimidating in terms of figuring out which platforms best suit their needs.

Jessie Scoullar is trying to help with that problem. She runs the London-based Wicksteed Works, an agency that specialises in D2F marketing and commerce, and she’s just released a report comparing 10 of the key platforms.

It’s called Direct-to-Fan: Which Platform, and went on sale this week. The 10 platforms are Bandcamp, CrowdSurge, Music Glue, PledgeMusic, rGenerator, Sandbag, StageBloc, Sunshine HQ, tmstores and Topspin, with the report profiling each service, as well as plotting their features and pricing on a grid.

“The way most people make their decision when picking a platform is either because someone is selling it to them, or they choose one that a friend of theirs is using, or they don’t have a clue and go for the first one they come across,” Scoullar told Music Ally, ahead of the report’s launch.

The report is designed to be independent: it provides the information on each platform and advice on what kind of questions to ask when deciding which would suit a particular artist or campaign, but steers clear of ‘X is better than Y’ recommendations.

However, Scoullar is selling consultancy packages around the report, where she’ll work personally with clients to make those kinds of decisions. Meanwhile, she has ambitions to expand the scope of the research over time.

“I’m not claiming that there’s only 10 platforms, obviously. I’ve got a list that I’m adding to virtually daily. There’s almost 70 platforms in it already!” she said. “This is intended as a first edition, but I want to expand and add further platforms, and the next step will be to create an online directory.”

What has Scoullar learned from compiling the report? She says that the platforms seem to fall neatly into three categories: ticketing like CrowdSurge and Music Glue – although she notes that the latter has expanded from those roots into stores too; destination platforms like Bandcamp and PledgeMusic, which have their own communities and host artists’ content; and then store platforms that are more about creating services and stores that live on the artist or labels own website.

Scoullar is positive about the potential these platforms all have for artists and labels that are building their D2F businesses, and hopes that breaking them down by category then showing their differences clearly will make D2F less intimidating for newcomers.

“None of this is secret information, but it hasn’t been gathered in one place before,” she said. “I think there are examples of artists at all levels who’ve had well thought-out direct-to-fan strategies, so hopefully this will help people go into it with a clearer idea of what they can achieve.”

Direct-to-Fan: Which Platform costs £87 from the Wicksteed Works site, with consultancy packages (which include the report) available for £147 and £347.

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