As a working musician today, you should always look for ways to diversify your revenue streams. One way to generate a new income stream for your career is by offering fan subscriptions, or memberships, through your website.
With Bandzoogle’s Subscriptions feature, your fans pay you a monthly subscription or membership fee. In exchange, they get exclusive content, rewards, access to your music, and more. And just like with all of Bandzoogle’s selling tools, fans pay you directly and the revenue is commission-free.
Subscriptions can be a great way to generate steady, recurring revenue for your career and deepen your connection with your biggest fans. It also takes a lot of planning and commitment to make subscriptions work. So let’s take a look at all of the factors that go into offering subscriptions to your fans.
Can fan subscriptions work for your music career?
The first question you should ask yourself is: are subscriptions the right model for me?
Selling fan subscriptions can give you a recurring revenue stream. But, you have to be prepared to offer enough value to your fans for it to be successful.
The subscriptions model works best for:
1. Musicians with an established fan base
If you already have an established fan base, offering subscriptions is a great way to allow your biggest fans to support you on a monthly basis.
2. Musicians that are prolific with creating content
If you’re prolific with songwriting, creating videos, writing blogs, taking photos, and more, then you should definitely consider offering subscriptions to your fans.
It takes a strong commitment to consistently create new content and rewards for your subscribers for this revenue model to be effective.
3. Musicians that enjoy engaging with their fans
If you love to engage with your fans, subscriptions are a great way to do this. With exclusive blogs, messages, forums, photos, and more, it allows you to spend more time communicating with your biggest fans.
On the other hand, if you’re a musician that’s more introverted and doesn’t enjoy posting a lot on social media, or responding to fan questions and comments online, subscriptions might not be the best fit for you.
4. Music teachers
If you teach music, subscriptions can be a great way to offer your students a simple way to pay for ongoing access to archived lessons, songbooks, tabs, and live online lessons.
Since music teachers already create content on a regular basis, subscriptions are a natural fit for both you and your students.
Do subscriptions replace selling and streaming music?
The short answer is: no. Subscriptions don’t (and shouldn’t) replace selling and streaming your music.
Subscriptions are a way for you to offer exclusive content to your absolute biggest fans in exchange for a monthly fee. Not all of your fans will be willing (or able) to support your career on a monthly basis.
Some of your fans will only stream your music on platforms like Spotify or Apple Music. Other fans will buy your music online, or attend live shows and purchase the occasional merch item. And some will be willing to pledge towards a crowdfunding campaign.
The bottom line is that it’s important to have all of these options available to give fans an opportunity to support your career.
Are fan subscriptions the same as crowdfunding?
Not exactly. While the two revenue streams are often mentioned together, crowdfunding campaigns are usually a one-time payment for a specific project that has a set deadline or release date.
Subscriptions or fan club memberships are usually recurring payments for access to continuous content, without a deadline or specific project in mind.
Subscriptions and crowdfunding can both be effective for musicians, and offer great experiences for your fans. If you want to run campaigns simultaneously, you’ll need to carefully plan it out so that you can offer enough content to your monthly subscribers while also running a crowdfunding project.
Why run fan subscriptions through your website?
With Bandzoogle’s Subscriptions feature, you can sell subscriptions directly through your own website. There’s no need to set up a separate account or profile with another service.
That means instead of sending fans to an outside website where they’ll have to create an account to make payments, you can drive fans to your website which you own and control. This also means that fans pay you directly for subscriptions, and those revenues are commission-free.
With your own website, you can also dictate the experience your fans will have. You can customize the design of your website, and change the design anytime you want. All of the subscriber-only pages you create will automatically match your design.
Maybe most importantly, running subscriptions through your website means you also own the data, and your database of fans. All subscribers are added to your mailing list, which you can export and download anytime. This is really important, as you can keep in touch with those fans for as long as you’re active in your career.
Build a professional website in just a few clicks where you can sell fan subscriptions commission-free! Try Bandzoogle now.
How to set up subscriptions through your website
Step 1: Decide the rewards for fans
When setting up subscriptions on your website, the first thing you’ll need to decide is the types of rewards and perks you’ll offer to fans.
To help you decide, here are some questions to ask:
- What can you create on a regular/monthly basis?
- What can you offer that can’t be found anywhere else?
- What kind of rewards would be special for your biggest fans?
- What kind of access to content would be meaningful for your fans?
Some examples of rewards you can offer to your subscribers:
- Exclusive blog updates and photos
- Getting new music first
- Access to your full discography to stream/download
- Getting to hear works on progress
- Early access to music and videos
- Exclusive music and merch sales
- Signed merch items
- Handwritten lyrics
- Monthly live hangouts or online shows
Brainstorm all of the rewards you’d like to offer. You can also ask fans on social media and your mailing list what kind of rewards they’d be interested in.
When planning out your rewards, it’s important to keep things simple. Remember, you’ll have to be able to manage all of the rewards on a monthly basis.
For more rewards ideas, check out: 71 ways to reward your music fan subscribers
Step 2: Create your tiers
Once you’ve decided on the rewards you’ll offer, organize them into different tiers. Offer your lowest tiers some introductory rewards, then add 1 or 2 bonus rewards for each tier above. You can always add more later, which is better than taking perks away from subscribers.
How many tiers should you have?
Bandzoogle’s Subscriptions feature was built so that you can create a complex offering with many tiers, and multiple pages assigned to each tier. You can also create a simple one tier per page membership as well.
So which is best for you? That all depends on how much content you can create, and how many rewards you want to consistently offer your fans. Keep in mind that subscribers of higher tiers will get access to the rewards from their tier, plus the rewards from all of the lower tiers.
If you’re just trying the subscriptions model for the first time, start simple. You could even start with just one tier, then add tiers as you grow your fanbase.
Here are a few examples of different tier options to consider:
With a simple one tier subscriptions set up, you can offer fans access to an exclusive blog feed, your back catalog of music to stream and download, as well as access to any new music that you release.
With two tiers, you could offer the same Tier 1 rewards as the above example. Then add a second tier that has a store with exclusive merch and discounts. As a special perk, you could offer to sign all merch for these subscribers, or send them handwritten lyrics each month.
If you wanted to add a third tier to your subscriptions offering, you could then give these subscribers a really exclusive reward like access to a monthly online concert where they can make song requests.
You can of course offer whichever rewards you prefer, and create as many tiers as you’d like. But keep in mind that with every new tier, you’ll also need to manage and deliver those rewards.
Pricing your tiers
When pricing your tiers, always have a very affordable introductory tier. This way all of your fans can support you in some way. This lower tier should be easily scalable (i.e. digital rewards) then from there, you can increase the price of the tiers as the rewards become more exclusive.
So you could start at $1 or $2 for Tier 1, and increase from there:
Tier 1: $2
Tier 2: $5
Tier 3: $10
The pricing for your tiers should also be gradual, with no large gaps between tiers. Example of what not to do with pricing:
Tier 1: $1
Tier 2: $20
Tier 3: $50
Just make sure that you can still make a profit from each tier. For example, don’t give away vinyl to subscribers of a $5 tier. Always factor in any manufacturing and shipping costs into the pricing of your tiers.
Name your tiers and pages
You can simply name your tiers “Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3,” etc. You can also get creative with the naming of your tiers and pages. Think along the lines of “Bronze,'' “Silver,” “Gold.” Or “Fan,” “Super Fan,” “Mega Fan.”
You can also name your entire subscriptions offering whatever you’d like. Since the Bandzoogle Subscriptions feature is page-based, you can name the main subscription page “Fan Club,” “Backstage Pass,” or “Greenroom.”
Step 3: Write a description
Once you’ve decided which rewards you’ll be offering to your fans, and how many tiers you’ll have, it’s time to write a description. This will appear on the paywall page, which the subscriptions feature automatically outputs. The paywall page is visible to all of your website visitors, and anyone can subscribe to your tiers on this page.
The description should be brief, and doesn’t have to spell out each and every tier or reward. You should introduce yourself, and describe in general terms the benefits and rewards your fans will get by subscribing.
You can also explain how subscribing helps your career and your ability to create music. Make fans feel like they’ll be part of something special by joining.
Step 4: Create an intro video
You can also add a video intro to your subscriptions paywall page. A video will help create more context for your fans, and get them excited to subscribe.
This video should be relatively short. Introduce yourself and explain what you do and what kind of rewards and perks fans will get by subscribing. You can do this in general terms so that you don’t need to update the video each time you add a tier or reward.
The video also doesn’t have to be a slick production. Just be sure to use some good natural light, speak close to the microphone, and be yourself.
Organizing subscriptions on your website
Setting up a subscriptions area on your website takes some organization. Here’s how to make your subscription pages easy to navigate, and your content quickly accessible.
Create your initial subscriptions page
The first page you create should be the gateway to the rest of your subscriber-only pages. In creating this page, make it part of your main menu and assign it to your lowest tier. Again, you should name it something like “Subscribe”, “Members”, “Fan Club”, etc.
Make tiers sub-pages
Next, you can create additional tiers as subpages to the main menu page.
This way, most of your fans will go to the main subscriptions page for content. Then subscribers of higher tiers can go to the subpages for their extra bonus content.
Making other website pages subscribers-only
You can also make any pages of your website subscribers-only. Just go to the ‘Edit Page Settings’ for the page and set the ‘Access restrictions’ to ‘Subscribers only.’
For help with setting up subscriptions on your own Bandzoogle website, check out the subscriptions feature help article: Creating a Subscriptions Page
If you start offering subscriptions, it’s not something you can be passive about. You’ll have to commit to regularly engaging with your fans, and most importantly, creating new content.
But the subscriptions model can be incredibly rewarding for both you and your fans. It gives your biggest fans exclusive access and content. And in return, it gives you a regular, more predictable income stream.
Build a professional website in just a few clicks where you can sell fan subscriptions commission-free! Try Bandzoogle now.
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