There are a couple of college students from South Texas (McAllen, Texas) who started a support/reward application for artists to receive direct support from fans. We have conducted an interview with them:


What inspires you all to start the support/reward application for artists?

The original inspiration for starting came from college friends of ours who were artists and musicians. For example, one of our friends was in a local punk band and he was always talking about how his band never made any money even though most of the gigs the band played were always packed with people. They had a lot of fans but no income. They couldn't sell any records because they were not with any label and the money the club owners gave them just was not enough for all the band members after expenses, if they got paid at all. So we started to think of a way to introduce an alternative revenue source for our friends in bands and other artists. The solution we came up with was to allow fans to directly support them and make it in a way that was easy and fast for the fans to do so. That's how we came up with the application. It all sprung from the fact that we wanted to help our creative friends survive financially.

Why is the word 'tip' in quotation marks?

It was the easiest way we could get the notion across that users could support the creative community directly. And the word "tip" also plays well with our application's philosophy of giving support in small increments of between $1 and $5 amounts. We found that "tippers" are most likely to offer support in these small amounts and at the same time still feel like they are making a difference in the things they love and support. The word "tip" fits perfectly for the fans and the creative community.


Struggling artists might not know about your initiative, how do you reach out to them?

Well what we did was start off locally with local bands primarily. Once one local band started to use it and make money, then others started to use it and that's how it all got started. Little by little we started to get more and more musicians and artists using it. As a matter of fact, we even get emails from waitresses who use our technology to get "tips" as well. It all began as a grass roots marketing campaign last year and we have grown since then.

What other technologies did your group consider before using QR Codes as a way for fans to send 'tips' to the artists which they are supporting?

We primarily use QR codes for offline use (bands at concerts, artist gallery showings etc.) because QR Codes allow people to "tip" using their cell phones. Because QR Codes are universal, it was the easiest solution for offline use. In the future we plan to expand to a more proprietary method if possible but for now users seem to like the ease of QR Coded. For online use on the other hand, QR codes are not necessary to receive "tips"; these are done with direct links to our website.


How do you think this new support/reward application will change the landscape of music artists in the near future?

A lot of local musicians have told us that they love the fact that they can get financial support for their music directly from their fans, especially since they have no record label behind them or sponsorship. We get emails all the time from musicians telling us that without our technology they would not be able to survive. That is what keeps us going. The fact that we can help the creative community find an alternative revenue stream for them to survive is the whole idea behind; especially in this age of digital piracy where revenues can be difficult to come by, even for established musicians. It makes us feel like we are making a difference when we go to a local music club and see a band using a QR Code that links to their email and fans "tipping" the band through their phones. It's a great feeling.

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