TapTape – When artists make money, fans make money

TapTape aims to help fund projects for musicians, while also giving fans/investors upside in the artists’ success. These fans now have an incentive to help promote and grow the fanbase of the artists they are invested in. For artists, the funding source pie just got a lot bigger.

TapTape.com

Funding creative projects is expensive.  What artist wouldn’t want to crowdfund a release by getting fans to pay for studio time, production & mastering, and merchandise?  Plenty of platforms have offered artists the opportunity to raise this funding: Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Bandcamp, Bandpage, etc. all allow artists to sell directly to fans or raise money for a project.  Until now, however, the only thing backers received in return was some sort of “perk” based on the amount contributed.  To be fair, for big fans these perks hold serious value.  Signed picture?  Why not.  VIP meet & greet?  Absolutely.  Private concert at your birthday party?  Where’s my checkbook.

However, artists continued to struggle with separating themselves from the noise of the industry.  Most of the backing for brand new artists came from friends and family, while existing artists were only able to leverage their existing fan base, not really tap into a new fanbase.  For backers that aren’t big enough fans of a particular artist to make the perks valuable, where is the incentive to donate?  Especially if they would have to end up buying the album or paying for concert tickets anyway.

Enter TapTape.  The company seeks to turn “backers” into “investors”, where you can actually share in the upside of the artist(s) that you support.  Completely different ballgame.  Several startups have tried to turn the “social value” of being an influencer into a business model, but they all struggled to gain adoption.  With TapTape (still in beta), that could potentially change.  It opens up the crowdfunding well beyond an artists fans and into the general population, where people will invest in order to actually earn returns.

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There is still a legal challenge with this equal-access equity crowdfunding model, as the US government restricts this type of investment to accredited investors (which is relatively difficult to achieve).  So instead of turning a cash investment into cash returns, TapTape rewards successful investments with their own digital currency, Tapcoins.  Based on the amount initially invested, users earn a standard Tapcoin return for every $10,000 that the artist makes over an 18 month period.  Artist revenue streams include many sources of cash: record sales/streams, touring, merchandise, publishing, synch, and sponsorship.  At the end of the investment period, Tapcoins are distributed to backers, and can be redeemed for items of value (that aren’t cash).  Examples are concert tickets, Amazon gift cards, or reinvesting in TapTape.  This is the company’s clever hack to get around the accredited investor restrictions.

Imagine investing in an artist on TapTape before they blow up.  Forbes notes that the top artists in the industry earn up to $100 million a year (Beyonce).  That’s a lot of Tapcoins.  Now, access to investing in this level of artist is out of the question, but one could imagine investing in an artist that goes viral on YouTube, pens a hit song, or gets signed to a global tour within an 18 month period.  This exciting potential will certainly drive backers, but will it entice artists?  Are they willing to give up a piece of the upside that they’ve worked so hard to obtain?  That remains to be seen.  So far, TapTape has only one artist project to invest in.  San Francisco-based duo K Theory has opened up to investment, with meager results so far.  41 supporters have gotten the project 12% to completion (the total amount to raise is an opaque amount), with 21 days remaining in the campaign.

TapTape has many obstacles to overcome, and is probably praying that the accredited investor laws change.  But for now, they are pushing the boundaries of how creative projects get funded, and I’m all for that.  I expect this trend to extend into other crowdfunding platforms as well.  Users will start to demand upside when exits like Oculus happen, because these backers took the financial risk early on, and should be fairly compensated.  Who will invest in the next Justin Bieber?

Tap Tape K Theory Promo Video

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Student comments on TapTape – When artists make money, fans make money

  1. Very cool idea and interesting questions. Tapcoins seem like a great, if temporary, means to get around the regulatory limitations. However, I can’t imagine that it will help capture the big upside cases, since $1M in gift cards seems like a relatively unappealing prize. I also feel like one of the traits of successful musicians is an undying optimism–a belief that it will work out, that the big payoffs are on the horizon. This also makes it hard to believe that they will give up a significant chunk of the upside. But there is no question that early backing is hugely valuable, so I wonder if there is room for backers to continue to receive non-financial credit for their support.

  2. Very interesting concept, thank you for sharing! As music industry is reinventing itself, it is so encouraging to see new start ups breaking the status quo. I agree with the previous comment that having a big upside in gift cards might not be promising enough to get fans engaged. I was also thinking about when an artist would use such a platform? An established artist has no incentive to go with the platform because they will have several music label lined up offering beyond money relationships with retailers, advertisers etc. And those are the artists that have a huge following that would engage individuals with TapTape. For a new artist TapTape might be a compelling proposition and it would come with direct competition with existing platforms such as Kickstarter. But how will an unknown band engage users? What is stopping Kickstarter from offering its own currency as well? Looking forward to see how TapTape will go forward!

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