Stop Renting, Start Owning

A framework for sustainable growth.

Welcome, artists & builders.

Today, I’ll go over the difference between Artist-Owned & Rented Channels, and how you should use them in your growth strategy. Let’s go.

Inside Issue #32

  • 💡 Stop renting, start owning

  • 🦁 1st full generative music video

  • 🗞️ UMG + TikTok makeup & more

Stop Renting, Start Owning

Artists need to stop renting & start owning their channels.

Own your context.
Own your audience.
Own your relationships.

Here’s my framework for building a sustainable audience with owned channels.

Owned vs. Rented Channels

There are 2 types of channels:

  1. Rented Channels = discovery & growth

  2. Owned Channels = nurturing & monetization

Both are important.

But they must be used in balance…

Rented Channels

They’re your top of funnel.

  • Streaming (Spotify, Apple)

  • Social (TikTok, IG, FB, X)

  • Video (Youtube, Twitch)

They offer mass scale & virality to reach a wide audience.

But, the platform owns the relationships. Your songs are just “content”, you control nothing & you’re always competing for eyeballs (even from your own followers).

Owned Channels

They’re for nurturing & monetizing.

  • Email

  • SMS

  • Website

  • Pre-Sales

  • Storefront

  • *Community

  • *Membership

You control the data, distribution & context, establishing a direct relationship with fans. Basically, you’re the platform.

But, they lack immediate scale & shareability.

Why Should Artists Own Their Channels?

As the discovery & reach of rented platforms becomes less & less reliable, the value of building owned channels becomes more crucial.

Attention is fractured & capturing 10 seconds today guarantees none tomorrow because you have no control, and it’s not about you, it’s about the "content".

If you want to sustain attention, guarantee reach & compound your wins, you must spend the time & energy in building algorithm-free Owned Channels.

There is no better marketing plan than knowing your fans.

How To Think About Your Channels

1) Don’t leave Rented Channels.

Just understand them for what they are: Advertising. You still need discovery & reach. Use them for that, but don’t build your home on rented land.

2) Your goal is to move everyone you can from Rented to Owned.

Every time you peak through the noise, bring that person back to owned land. Get great at converting down your funnel. If fans want it first, direct, exclusively or premium, they need to join.

Turn followers into fans.

3) Owned Channels take longer to build, but have far greater value.

It may have lower conversion. The numbers may feel small at first. But the value & intent in Owned Channels is far larger. Plus, your wins compound.

An email is worth 1,000 streams.

4) Overdeliver in Owned Channels.

These fans opted in. You’re not just collecting names. Give them more than “buy my album”. Deepen relationships, personalize offerings & park your premium experiences here.

You win by overdelivering.

5) Link your Owned ecosystem together.

Data from Social → Pre-Saves → Link-in-bio → Signups → CRM → Messaging → Store → Pre-Sales should all sit in one place with that fan’s identity tied to it.

OpenStage is great for this.

Artists that cultivate the best owned land will win.

They will sustain.
They will be self-sufficient.
They will compound their wins.
They will build their own worlds.

This is the advantage of owned channels.

It’s how you build a lasting artist business.

Stop renting.
Start owning.

PS: Owned channels that also have user-habit & discoverability are music’s holy grail.

*Community & membership channels like Discord & Patreon are not fully owned, as artists lack complete data ownership and/or context.

We’re seeing new versions of community, membership and social that are more white-labeled, customizable, interoperable & data-generous.

Bonfire is platformless fan engagement & memberships with top-to-bottom artist control.

Medallion is offering artist-customized fan clubs.

→ Social protocols like Farcaster & Lens look more like email - with profiles, usernames & followers working across apps (altho none offer scaled reach yet, other than in niche communities).

📚️ My 3 Favorite Reads This Week

  1. 5 Lessons on Superfans from IMS Ibiza 2024, via Billboard

  2. Today’s music industry is becoming two, by Mark Mulligan at Midia

  3. Phish’s Trey Anastasio talks about taking over the Sphere, and the role of fans and community in everything they do.


A Fully Generative Music Video

The 1st commercial music video made with OpenAI Sora.

It's for Washed Out's new track "The Hardest Part", and it's 4 full minutes of completely generative text-to-video.

→ 700 Sora generations
→ 55 selected clips
→ Edited in premiere

Director Paul Trillo aimed to explore all the possible outcomes of a couple’s life across various locations only through text prompts.

“With this, there was no editing myself. I was really able to just try things and so that organically creates a different kind of story because of that, being able to throw so much at the wall and see what sticks.” 

Backlash: The video has received heavy backlash for its use of generative AI & in particular Sora - which many believe is trained on unlicensed work. Others see it as an inevitable step forward.

A limited number of directors have been given beta access to Sora.

💨 Quick Hits

  1. UMG’s music is coming back to Tiktok

  2. FKA Twigs created a deepfake of herself to interact with fans & journalists, so she can focus on music.

  3. Planet rolls out Show Pass: Unlock membership perks at shows, including queue jump + merch discounts.

  4. Medallion launches push notifications: Activated by artist posts in their communities.

  5. SoundCloud launches ‘Buzzing Playlists’: Highlighting up & coming artists.

- Rob