The Brag Media
News November 17, 2020

New COVID-inspired Australian platform Serenade generates direct income for artists

Senior Journalist, B2B
New COVID-inspired Australian platform Serenade generates direct income for artists

If you’re good at something, don’t do it for free.

That’s the tune played by Serenade, a new platform launched during the height of the pandemic which operates in the sweet spot between artists and superfans.

The brainchild of entrepreneur Max Shand, Serenade enables music fans to go direct to artists and purchase a personalised, virtual — and shareable — performance.

For $400, you can book time with Killing Heidi’s Ella Hooper. For a few hundred burning a hole in your pocket, you can buy a special performance from ARIA Hall of Famer Steve Kilbey of The Church or Sarah McLeod of The Superjesus.

There’s a participating artist for every taste, from Didirri to Kim Churchill, WAAX, Ash Grunwald, imbi the girl, Teen Jesus and more. 

Sarah McLeod

Artists have full control of setting their fees, with 75% of the Serenade cut going to the performer.

“Giving an artist a chance to play a few Serenades before their show, or on a weekend when they’re practicing for a show, the money they can generate can be significant,” notes Shand.

The platform was created in May, and soft launched to the industry in 1st September, with 30 artists on board.

Fast forward six weeks, and more than 70 artists are plugged into the service.

The business model isn’t a world away from that of Cameo, a virtual shopping aisle of celebrities who, for a fee, will give you a howdy.

Steve Kilbey

The proof in concept with Cameo and, let’s face it, OnlyFans, is that followers will pay for a special experience.

Shand talks of “the value of personalisation.” His service, however, “actually gives artists an opportunity to do what they do, and that’s play their songs, their music,” he tells TIO.

“It’s showing artists that there’s an opportunity to wrap their music up in a new experience which raises a fan’s willingness to pay for it. It’s an exclusive performance. Not a shout out.”

Serenade, as its name would suggest, is “about music and celebrating a fan’s love of an artist, and enabling music, which has always played a special role for fans. To actually enter it with an artist behind those songs.”

Shand, at 25, is a prototype whizzkid with a skillset ticking off tech, business, history and a lifelong passion for music.

Based in Sydney, Shand has his feet planted firmly in the start-up community, having been involved as a founding employee with Afterpay, the ASX-listed buy now, pay later service.

Indeed, Afterpay is a payment option on Serenade.

He also holds a board seat at FBi Radio, and contributes to several arts titles including Sydney Morning Herald, PopMatters and The Quietus.


The idea for Serenade came about when, at the start of coronavirus period, he was writing a piece for the SMH on how musicians are changing their practices in an evolving landscape.

One musician who spoke with Shand mentioned that the artist needs to get smart to who they play to. They need to play to the “front row”.

The lightbulb went off.

“That gave me the idea that as time goes on its about giving artists the tools to enable them to connect with their front row, with their superfans, and create amazing experiences that the fans are willing to pay a lot for that expression of their music,” he tells TIO.

“This is all about creating something hyper-personalised for the individual. And a fan recognises that. Because they recognise how special it is, they’re willing to give artists the incentive to create something they’ve never created before.”

Ella Hooper

Study the names and faces in the Serenade ecosystem, you’ll spot a common thread. They’re all local artists. There’s a reason for that.

“The goal is solely to celebrate Australian music for now and to create a product that gives Australian artists the opportunity to connect with fans and generate a new stream of revenue as a result,” Shand enthuses.

In future, there may be opportunities to work with internationals. “That’s not our short-term goal,” he admits. “Our short-term goal is Australian music, Australian fans. And the local industry.”

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.


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