The Handshake Economy
The Japanese experience is utterly unpalatable for most artists and probably wouldn’t translate anyway in most Western countries. But the essence of understanding that the fandom itself is just as valuable to fans as the music is the essence of truth that YouTubers have already grasped and that more artists need to do. Welcome to the handshake economy.
We are in the era of the always-on fan, with artists making themselves ever more available to their fans. It is a transition that comes with no shortage of challenges, not least the extra workload it places on artists and the way it chips away at the magical aura that surrounds them. There is an inherent tension between increasing an artist’s appeal through increased accessibility and creating it by maintaining distance. Contrast this with YouTubers like Jenna Marbles, PewDiePie and Phil and Dan who share so much of their lives with their fans. Platforms like Kickstarter, Paetron and the ever excellent PledgeMusic have given artists the ability to balance artistic credibility with monetizing their super fans. But while such efforts are currently on the fringes there is a country where super fans are at the heart of recorded music revenue. Artistic credibility however is not exactly at the top of…
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