Business News Digital

Direct-to-fan platform being built out of Drip canned before launch

By | Published on Tuesday 18 June 2019


A project aiming to launch a new direct-to-fan platform expanding on the past achievements of Drip has been canned even before said platform launched. The people behind it have said that “increasingly insurmountable odds” caused them to abandon the endeavour.

Drip was the start-up that enabled labels and artists to offer their own online subscription services. In February 2016 it announced it was shutting down but then, a few weeks later, an acquisition by crowd-funding business Kickstarter kept it running, allowing a revamp the following year that saw it reposition itself as a direct-to-fan service for all art forms, not just music.

Then last October the Drip team announced a new tie-up with the people behind Oregon-based festival and conference XOXO. They said that the collaboration was “a new project that will ultimately replace Drip, one in which Kickstarter will be taking more of a supporting role. The project, which will build on the work of the Drip team, will help independent artists and creators get discovered, find a community to support their work, and build a long-term, sustainable career”.

It’s that new project that was officially called off last week. XOXO announced the decision in a blog post, writing “we were building a platform with an incredibly low barrier to entry for creators and supporters, and we wanted to make a space for creators at any stage of their career, without necessarily having a large established audience”.

However, they went on, “ultimately, we couldn’t find a way to make the business viable. We explored a number of different options – voluntary subscriptions from users, premium features, increased fees – but the resources required to support a high number of lower-volume creators always outpaced our revenue”.

Quite what this means for Drip and Kickstarter’s dabbling in direct-to-fan tools beyond crowd-funding isn’t clear, though the XOXO blog post says: “We’re working with our friends at Kickstarter to help migrate the remaining Drip beta creators elsewhere. And then we’re returning the remaining seed funding back to Kickstarter”.

It does feel like the true potential of the direct-to-fan relationship is yet to be fully realised by the wider music industry and it’s a shame when innovators in the space stand down. And, of course, when established platforms like PledgeMusic completely collapse. It’s possible that the complexities of D2F in its various forms – compared to, say, digital distribution – make it a trickier business in which to operate as a service provider.

That said, plenty of platforms still remain – Music Glue, Bandcamp and Patreon among them – and successfully building a direct-to-fan business is possibly less about the platforms and more about how artists and their teams employ them.