News November 17, 2020

New app enables artists to charge fans for private virtual gigs and exclusive content

New app enables artists to charge fans for private virtual gigs and exclusive content

New Australian app Klef is hoping to convert consumers’ desire for exclusive and personalised content and services into a financial model for established and grassroots talent.

It opens to artists today with a mass-market intro scheduled for December.

Melbourne tech marketer and Klef co-founder Sam Russell began working on the app’s features 18 months ago, long before COVID, although the need for the music industry to convert fan loyalty into an economic outcome has taken on even greater urgency as the pandemic has unfolded.

In publicity about the launch, Klef noted 79,000 live entertainment workers had lost their jobs throughout the pandemic, and there would be a $23.6 billion loss of economic output should restrictions last until the end of the year.

This, Klef noted, comes on top of challenging economic conditions for musicians, who are facing decreased margins for sharing their music via the dominant global streaming platforms.

Russell said the industry’s exodus should not, and could not, continue.

“So many emerging musicians give up because they simply can’t afford to continue, and the impact of this on the industry, and the music and cultural scene globally is devastating,” he said.

Russell and his team travelled to the UK, US, the Middle East and Europe to talk to artists, their managers and music industry execs to get feedback.

Among their pet gripes: limited revenue streams, no financial equity, contracts that don’t allow artists the freedom to cast their creative nets as wide as they would like, and the current infrastructure for artist direct-to-customer monetisation not providing ‘true’ access for fans and dependent on ad revenue.

A further Klef survey of 200 musicians which found 81% harboured desire to make money from virtual gigs and online experiences gave the app its focus.

“They want to explore private gigs and sets, the ability to collaborate with other artists easier, and engage in different and better ways with their fans, all while getting paid.”

Klef’s research also found that artist to consumer revenue grew by 32% from 2018 to 2019, outgrowing global music revenue by three times.

The app comes with an initial four features.

Request: Fans can request a song cover, video shout-out or an ‘ask me anything’.

Book: Artists can be locked in for a virtual gig, birthday call, meet and greet or music lesson.

Shout: Support an artist with a “tip” that can range from a cup of coffee or glass of beer, studio time, home studio gear or even a helicopter ride.

Explore: Getting a deeper understanding of the musician’s art with exclusive content.

Russell said artists call the shots: “You get to choose what your fans can and can’t shout you.”

Artists can sign up ahead of the official launch, and fans can join the waitlist for early access.

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