Musikid, a domestic fan-supported music platform, is out to reshape itself as a professional online broker of independent musicians.
The platform provides an array of services for starving musicians, such as assisting them in organizing crowd funding campaigns, booking venues and selling tickets.
The shrinking recording industry has left more and more independent musicians out in the cold with no resources and weak connections to producers or agents. The hard situation inspired Zhao Hongwei to found Musikid in 2012.
Zhao built a community music website in the early stages of the project, though it soon closed due to problems with copyright infringement. That was when he decided to take a lesson from Kickstarter.
Musikid builds on Kevin Kelly’s theory of “1,000 True Fans”: that an artist only needs 1,000 true fans to be able to make a living. Zhao said it is not hard for China’s independent artists to win enough fans to support their crowd funding efforts.
The first program promoted by Musikid was Tangsuan Radio, a popular Internet station for folk music. Under Zhao’s advice, backers who offered 1,000 yuan were given the chance to carve their names on a brick wall. Those who donated 5,000 yuan could win a free live show by the station’s DJs in their own home.
The tiered rewards alone helped Tangsuan raise 50,000 yuan – about half of its goal.
More than 400 bands and independent radio stations have applied to raise money with Musikid. Zhao and his colleagues audit each proposal for its feasibility and do background checks on whoever is pitching it.
Zhao said those who succeed in getting the funds they need are interesting, present a good story and actively interact with their supporters.
Nikhil Potdar from Outloop Management said the main task for each funding attempt is to prepare an attractive and high quality video that focuses on the project’s goal rather than the artist’s best song or achievements.
As for whether to help a band raise funds or schedule a tour, Zhao said it depends on the number of participants. Musikid sets a threshold for participants in each city and invites fans to pre-order tickets. If the number of pre-orders is high enough in several cities, it begins to schedule a tour.
Among more than 90 crowd funding attempts, half have succeeded in raising more than 1 million yuan. Musikid collects a 10 percent commission on each successful funding drive.
The bulk of its profits come from commissions, though it also benefits from peripheral sales of T-shirts, caps and necklaces.
Musikid offers two funding models: a Kickstarter-inspired system that disburses funds only if the group’s goal is met and a presale system that ensures artists get the funds irrespective of whether their goal is reached.
Zhao said he also plans to add a B2B platform to allow fans to support original music. When a musician gets 1 yuan from a fan, the fund will follow up by giving 10 yuan. The model is aimed to help newcomers find their first bunch of 1,000 true fans.
Musikid already has 50,000 registered users, 80 percent of whom are paid users.
Besides exploring the domestic market, Zhao is working on a “butterfly plan” that cooperates with Left Ear, a Taiwanese record label, to help organize and promote tours of Taiwanese artists on the mainland.
But Zhao said there are no plans to bring digital music to Musikid. Apart from his personal preference for physical records, Zhao said it is exceptionally hard to generate profits in the digital music market.
Live shows and memorabilia are still the most valuable sources of revenue in the industry, he said.
C, Bao. Musikid Helps Indie Musicians Back Their Art. News. Online. June 14 2014. http://beijingtoday.com.cn/2014/06/musikid-helps-indie-musicians-back-art/