by LUKE BAUMGARTEN & r & & r & Creative Commons & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & I & lt;/span & wrote last week about Nine Inch Nails' tiered pricing, which lets fans buy into a band at a level that matches their fervor -- something I think is a great idea for small bands that don & iacute;t have the cheese just to give their music away.
There are other ways to get fans to buy in, though, that don't require any money. Cyberspace hasn't just changed the game for music. It's changed everything. The world's a profoundly different place than it was when radio play mattered, and when studio time was so expensive only labels could afford it. We live in a world where anyone with a computer can do a damn fine job of producing a record, anyone with a digital camera can be a filmmaker and anyone with a Blogger account can be the kind of pundit who shapes political strategy. Technology has brought boundless optimism, mostly in the feeling that the route from commoner to celebrity has fewer roadblocks than it did even five years ago. Fame has fractured and become decentralized.
In a world where anyone can make magic, people no longer need their gods, which is why no one's looking for Rock Gods anymore. They're looking for fellow artists, for someone to treat them as collaborators. They want interaction.
People don't just dream of fame anymore. They kinda expect it. The more savvy artists understand this and have tapped into it. Arcade Fire has now made two interactive Web-based music videos. NIN wants people to hack apart Ghosts I-IV to create new compositions. Radiohead is holding a contest for animators to make a music video. It costs you nothing, it costs fans nothing but their time, and the result is nothing but love.
The Beastie Boys gave a bunch of fans a bunch of digicams and had them all record the same show, creating and selling a really dope fan & iacute;s-eye-view concert DVD. (In hindsight, they also should have let fans name it.)
So damn, stage a musical flash mob. Hold a YouTube video contest, whatever. Engage people. Get them to buy into your talent by buying into theirs. Be a peer.