New Low For Music: Paying Fans To Hear Songs

If I offered to pay you $35 to listen to my new single, would you consider? What if, instead, I offered you the chance to win the dollar amount—in exchange for your email? Tempted to fork it up? Well, you’re not the only one. Over the last few days, the UK pop duo The Reclusive Barclay Brothers, has been running a promotional campaign that aims to incentivize fans for listening to their music.

At random, the group will pick 100 fans to receive the $35 stipend, totaling $3,500. This money, along with the amount needed to fund the production of their latest album, was borrowed from a bank at 16.9% over 5 years. The theory is that in the record industry it hasn’t been uncommon to pay radio stations to play music, so why not just pay the fans? The Reclusive Barclay Brothers consider this to be reverse payola; the bribery of influential fans. Empowered by the social web, fans do have much more power these days. The jury is out on whether or not paying them is a good idea. Or if, in doing such an outlandish marketing effort like this, the group will be able to attract attention to their music on its own merit.

In the music video for their latest single ‘We Could Be Lonely Together,’ the focal point of this marketing stunt, The Reclusive Barclay Brothers aptly state that is “certainly not an attempt to further cheapen recorded music and it’s most definitely not a cynical, desperate act to gain publicity...” Maybe not. What do you think? Is paying fans a new low for music, like their site suggests, or just the logical progression of where online music marketing is headed anyways?

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