The music industry is incredibly stubborn to change. And can you blame it? Many of the largest advancements in technology have been at the detriment of of the music industry.
CDs allowed for mass music consumption and storage, but also paved the way for burning and pirating en masse. The internet connected the citizens of the world, who wasted no time ripping, uploading and downloading from said CDs. Streaming opened up the horizons of music lovers, who would have to stream a song an ungodly amount of times for the artist to see any return from it.
Enter Serenade, the brain child of music and tech industry wunderkind Max Shand. A platform that allows fans to connect directly with artists, then request, book and pay for exclusive performances, Serenade is a technological advancement of the music industry, by the music industry, for the music industry. Mere weeks into its life, it’s quite clear that this is something needed and wanted – by fans and artists alike.
With more than 70 artists on the platform, including Slowly Slowly, WAAX, Killing Heidi’s Ella Hooper, and just so many more, the platform has already raised over $10,000 for its artists since its September soft launch.
To get our heads around the platform, Blunt Magazine spoke with the man behind it all, Max Shand.
What was that specific moment, or perhaps that conversation you were having, when you had the eureka moment that this was an idea that could work?
It was through a piece that I was doing for the Sydney Morning Herald at the start of the coronavirus period, where I was speaking to some fantastic artists, established artists, who were telling me how given they couldn’t tour for the foreseeable future, it might be as short as a month before they’re out on the street.
It was one particular line from an artist I spoke with, who said “Artists just need to get smarter with who they play to and they need to play to the front row.” And that just resonated with me. And I was like, “Oh, that’s a really interesting insight. How can I actually create a service that enables artists to play to the front row?”
I knew that fans have this undying love for the songs of their favourite musicians and then there’s surely a way to give fans a new experience from music that would raise their willingness to pay for it and consequently give artists an opportunity to benefit naturally from their incredible work.
What sort of artists do you think could make a home on Serenade?
Having your favourite band on screen knows no genre divide. I want Serenade to be genre agnostic, to be a place where any band, any musician with a dedicated fan base or the desire to create a dedicated fan base can go to do that.
I want metal. I’m speaking to lots of metal artists because there are lots of metal fans out there. A metal band might have a lot more instrumentation in it, might have more members in it.
These are initial challenges, but when a band sees the value of creating a Serenade they will work with us to ensure that they can participate and give fans something special.
The pricing is also something that I think was interesting. Bad Sext were up there for $50 bucks, then there are the ones which get to the $350 range. Is the idea more so that you can get a group of people in together and they can all chip away at a present for one of their friends?
Yeah. From a fan perspective, the idea here is that you’re giving someone, a friend, a loved one, something so special unlike anything they’ve ever seen before. You do that as a group present or if you’re extremely generous by yourself. And from an artist perspective in terms of what the pricing is, Serenade is being set up as a business that enables artists to prove, to communicate their worth, to actually set their own prices.
There are so many other technology platforms available that force artists to compromise on the worth of their work. Serenade is there to say to artists, “You know what your work is worth and you have full autonomy in setting the price of that work.”
You should price yourself at something commensurate to you delivering an exceptional experience for a fan. And there’s no one better to do that than you.
Have you thought about the ways that you’ll expand this once things start opening up?
This is something valuable for fans well into the future. It’s something that would have been valuable to fans in the past. It’s something that just hasn’t been in market. For artists, it’s a great opportunity to play a few songs before the show starts and soundcheck and film, and actually make a real amount of money compared to how much they’re making from that show.
It’s always also an opportunity to give something to your super fans who might not have been able to get there that night or might be living a bit far from that venue.
Every artist would state that in their inboxes they’ve got messages coming in everyday, “Oh, we’d love if you said congratulations to the newlyweds. We’d love if you said happy birthday to Jack, who’s your biggest fan.”
Artists at this point haven’t had a structured way to just drop a link in there and to have someone ensure that that request is actually handled appropriately, safely and in a way that means the artists is incentivised to live with something special.