OUR BRAND MAY BE YOUR LIFE
The idea behind FANATIC.FM is simple and, depending on your cultural politics, abhorrent: to pair bands with brands. Companies can sponsor an artist's song or album, and the artist can choose to accept a sponsorship offer or seek one from a brand of their choosing.
In the not-too-distant past, this would have sounded like dystopia. But TV commercials now offer better opportunities for breaking new music than many radio stations. And if you've been to Warped Tour lately, you're probably aware that corporate punk rock has essentially turned into NASCAR.
In other words, fanatic.fm didn't create the market — but they'd like to be the marketplace. Because, well, not everyone has an audience big enough to support a major kickstarter.com campaign. Here's how it would work: The artist gets to set a suggested price for their music. In exchange for the cash, a company gets to pair the artists' songs with a branded video or series of pictures. The hope is that fans and artists would then share that content — with fanatic.fm, sponsored videos can be embedded on other sites, as with YouTube and Vimeo vids.
Some brands are already signing on — current sponsors range from a teddy bear company and a graphic artist to Hennessey and Samsung. Several artists have also adopted early, and many current sponsors have seen multiple requests from bands looking for partners. Creator Ian Kwon's even built courtship into the system — on fanatic.fm, musicians can create previews of their albums, almost like trailers, and use them in sales pitches for prospective sponsors.
The payment model sees to it that the artist gets the lion's share of the sponsorship: the split between musician and fanatic.fm is 70/30. From fanatic's cut, 2.5 percent of each share is donated to a charity of the artist's choosing, a commitment deemed very important to Kwon. "Musicians have always have been on the front lines of helping people in need," says Kwon, and he's giving them the opportunity to include a good cause in the marriage between art and commerce.