Backstage Is Where The Party’s At…Unless It’s Online

By Erki Koldits, CEO and Founder, POPSPOT 

Everyone who’s ever been to a show — whether it’s by your favourite DJ, band, or rapper — has, at some point, harboured ambitions of getting backstage. It is, after all, where all the fun’s to be had. It’s also the closest most people will get to their favourite artists and the closest they’ll get to being rock stars themselves. But while that might be true for real-world backstages, things are starkly different online. 

A plethora of online platforms has given us instant access to all the latest content from our favourite artists at little to no cost. In a way, however, that sentence encapsulates the problem for artists and fans alike. On top of recording and playing live gigs, artists typically have to manage several social media accounts and promote themselves on a variety of streaming platforms if they’re to have any hope of making a living. And that’s before you even get into negotiating the brand collaborations they increasingly rely on. For fans, following creators across those platforms is a chore. Additionally, they’re typically left frustrated by brand endorsements and the inability to directly support their favourite creators online. 

The current model is, in other words, unsustainable for creators and fans alike. Fortunately, there is a better way. 

The problem with the status quo 

Of course, the effort creators have to put in if they are to maintain a viable online presence is only part of the problem. Another major issue is the fact that the biggest platforms take a significant chunk of the revenue earned thanks to the creators present on the platform. 

For social networks, it can be as high as 100%. This in turn forces creators into the kind of brand collaborations that make their interactions on the platform feel inauthentic. While platforms and regulators alike have tried to find ways around this (including mandates that creators mark sponsored content), it’s almost impossible to police effectively. Other platforms, such as music streaming services, do pay out artists (although they still take a large portion of the money earned on each stream). And while they’ve been important in reducing music piracy, their per-capita payouts are insignificant. 

Fans, meanwhile, have very few options available when it comes to directly supporting their favourite creators. Sure there are crowdfunding platforms and other services that allow creators to reward fans for their financial backing, but they are limited in their scope. You can’t, for example, watch the latest video from your favourite band and tip them in the same place. The system is, to put it bluntly, far too fragmented.

While it’s intuitive that these frustrations exist among creators and fans, we confirmed it in our firsthand discussions with both. 

As one prominent South African DJ pointed out,  the old ways won’t work in the new world. Having seen friends getting depressed on social media, they believe it’s time for something that meets our human needs and aspirations and doesn’t suffocate them behind an algorithm.  

A better way 

There is a better way and it starts with cutting out all those middlemen. We believe that artists should own 100% of the content they create. They should also have the ability to do what they want with that content, without having to adjust it to the whims of an algorithm. The same should be true for ordinary users. They should be able to see the feed they want, be able to build their own communities, and feel free to set their own rules. Ultimately, they should also have a sense of ownership of the online communities they participate in.  

At the end of the day, the two parties that should see the biggest benefit from this model are the creators and the users, not some faceless corporation. This will result in happier creators, happier fan communities, and stronger relationships between both. 

Over the next few weeks, people across South Africa will start seeing messages from a select group of creators, including Costa Titch and Moozli, who’ve understood this and are ready to forge a new path. They’ll also give their fans the opportunity to get a “backstage” look at something that fundamentally changes the online relationship between creators and fans. 

A much-needed change 

There is absolutely no doubt that creators and fans are hungry for a new way to build authentic communities that they have full ownership of. In this scenario, the online backstage won’t be an unwieldy mess, but the kind of place that brings creators and fans together just like its real-world equivalent does. 

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