The era of data4access is coming: What is it?

Today is a big day in the world of music promotion. NoiseTrade, a division of direct-to-fan service PledgeMusic, has unveiled a new feature: the streaming premiere. Instead of simply linking fans to a new song, video, or album, artists are now able to require fans submit an email address or postal code to access the material.

The first artist to take advantage of this new feature of NoiseTrade are The Lumineers who are streaming their new album Cleopatra for a limited time. To access the stream you must provide NoiseTrade and The Lumineers with your email address and postal code. Just like you do when you download free music from NoiseTrade.

This might not seem like a big deal at first glance, but it could mark the beginning of a big shift in the way artists of all sizes share material with the world. Now instead of partnering with blogs whose reach may or may not aide their growth, artists can choose to release material themselves and reap the reward of receiving useful fan data in return. Every person who views the new material will have to give the artist something, be it an email address, phone number, postal code, etc., and that information can then be used to help with future marketing campaigns. Having a hard time selling tickets in Boston? Use the data from your recent premiere to contact fans in that region directly and make them aware of your upcoming appearance. Got a big pre-order launching? Use the emails gathered from everyone who viewed your latest single and use them to ensure the people who actually care about your music know more is on the way.

The idea of ‘data4access’ or ‘email4access’ is not a new one in the digital landscape, but it is relatively new to the world of entertainment. For years music marketing professionals have been taught that the only way to reach people is through providing a gratuitous amount of free access to media. The idea behind this was that few, if any, people would want to deal with the hassle of signups or financial contributions when they know the vast majority of music does not place such barriers to access. With Noisetrade introducing a system designed specifically to put those barriers in place, a chance could be coming, and it’s not hard to picture a future where Bandcamp and Soundcloud make similar tools available. If that happens, which is entirely possibly if Noisetrade’s efforts prove popular, then the way artists approach premieres and press could completely differ from the way things work today.

The question is, will fans go for it? Instincts tell us no, as we’ve been conditioned to believe freedom is valued above all in the digital world, but that idea does not consider the fact most people value their favorite artists in a way similar to how they value close friendships. You wouldn’t necessarily want to pay for access to your best friend, but if it was required you would. Likewise, fans might not want to submit an email to hear the new song from their favorite artists, but if it proves to be the only means to access then they will input their data as fast (albeit reluctantly) as possible. 

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.