So what do these “experiences” actually look like? Let’s take Ariana Grande as an example. Pull up the Hollywood-based pop singer’s Spotify page and scroll down to the “Official Merchandise” section. There you can purchase a bundle that includes Grande’s latest album, a t-shirt, bracelet, poster and more – a standard specimen of physical musician merchandise. But right there alongside the bundles is an “exclusive online concert” option: “Pre-order My Everything and get access to the iHeartRadio Concert video stream where Ariana performs songs from her new album FOR THE FIRST TIME!” (pardon the enthusiasm). Pre-order a copy of the record and you’ll receive an email with a link and unique code to access the stream when it airs.
The genius behind this sort of special event? Technically, there’s no limit — save bandwidth — to the amount of tickets you can sell to a concert streamed online. This can translate to a hell of a lot of pre-orders for Grande’s record, and a whole lot of dollars for Spotify and BandPage both.
Other examples of now-monetized “VIP Experiences” include a $40 meet & greet with Porter Robinson (which, bizarrely, comes with a “free【=◈︿◈=】 mask that was featured in the Lionhearted video”), a $200 chance to collaborate on a track with Tea Leaf Green drummer/producer Cochrane McMillan, and a $30 “Soundcheck” with The Stone Foxes that grants paying fans early entry to the venue to watch the band soundcheck for a sneak peak at what the band will play that night.
J Sider, founder and CEO for BandPage, said in an interview with CNET that 1,000-plus of these types of experiences are now available for purchase via Spotify.
While BandPage already has its fingers in the honeypots of other music services such as Soundcloud and Rdio, there’s no doubt the company has a lot to gain by going into business with Spotify and its 40 million-plus active users, 10 million of which are paying subscribers. Spotify stepped into the band merch arena in January with help from entertainment marketing company Topspin.
But the streaming service’s partnership with BandPage broadens its merch-selling capabilities with virtually countless new ways of making money off of unorthodox products: “experiences” that, until now, have primarily been available to those with influence, industry connections, and/or a little bit of luck.