British artist Emma McGann has been a good example of an independent artist willing to experiment with new technologies. She built her audience on live-streaming app YouNow, for example, and also became one of the first artists to launch her own ‘skill’ for Amazon’s Alexa assistant. Her latest idea is a ‘virtual tour pass’ which she’s planning to test for the first time on her upcoming US tour.
The tour involves 20 dates across the US, but fans elsewhere in the world can pay £20 for the virtual pass. That will enable them to stream each of the shows live; have their name printed on McGann’s guitar case; get a handwritten postcard ‘from the road’; merch discounts; a ‘Roadie’ role on the tour’s channel in messaging app Discord; and access to a collaborative road-trip playlist. Plus a tree will be planted for every purchase, for carbon-offsetting purposes.
There’s also a system where people can earn extra rewards by buying multiple passes and gifting their spare ones to other fans. It’s an interesting idea, tuned to the already online-heavy nature of McGann’s fanbase. The only worry, presumably, is whether the physical tour (due to start on 21 April) will go ahead, given the current novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. But even if not, this is an interesting model, and one that other artists might be able to explore too in the future.