Sam Phillips is not just a singer-songwriter, she’s a mogul.
Well, okay. A mini-mogul. And she’d probably bristle at even that. But through her year-long “Longplay” experiment in making music in semi-public for a paying audience, she’s set herself up as a fascinating amalgam of record company exec and free-wheeling artist.
And what’s really neat about it, it’s allowed average fans to become patrons of her art. Well, mini-patrons. For a dollar a week, anyone can buy into the experiment, directly supporting her work and getting early access to the music as it is recorded and made available to paying members (if you come in late, you still get access to all the music already released).
I’m reminded of this because her latest EP, Old Tin Pan, just came out and, once again, I’m getting to enjoy new music and she and her band are able to (I’m assuming here) keep the food on the table. Or buy some nice shoes. Whatever. And it’s really not about the money, but about the support: I pay because I want her to keep at it. There are lots of other performers I’d gladly support similarly, if they’d only ask.
Think of this the next time someone says people won’t pay for anything online. They will. We will. We just won’t pay for crap or commodity. I’ll pay for Sam’s music, or Evernote’s service or great iPad apps like Appigo’s ToDo or the amazingly useful Digging Into WordPress e-book.
There’s a business model for you: Make things people want to pay for.