Find Out About: Artists First
E-commerce Application Permits Music Bundle Sales From Artist's Sites
by Anne Freeman,

Are you tired of sending your fans to other sites to sell downloads of your songs? Are you frustrated by the limitations of other sites that won't let you bundle songs with video and other products? Are you sick of paying high set-up fees and percentages for download services? Well, there is an answer to all of those questions, and it is called Artists First ( Just take a look at the Artists First slogan, and you'll immediately understand why I am so excited about this service!

The Artists First e-commerce application provides indie artists and labels an alternative income stream to selling CDs. By simply pasting the Artists First HTML code on your website, your fans can now buy your downloads from your site on their mobile phone bill or credit/debit card. Artists First also includes reporting capabilities for download sales, site traffic, fan registration figures and a monthly revenue statement. And inexpensively, too.

In my interview with Artists First co-founder Thomas Reemer, we'll learn about a new service that could well change how independent artists and record labels do the business of digital downloads and better serve their fans in the process. Any serious artist should give serious consideration to adding Artists First digital download services to their tools of the trade and to their website! And now for the interview...

[The Aspiring Songwriter] When was Artists First created and where are you based?

Thomas Reemer Mark Bjornsgaard and I have been working on this for the past 18 months; it has grown into a business six months ago. We are based in London. Artists First permits artists and labels to sell music from their own site, rather than send them to a third party such as iTUNES, Napster, MSN, Rhapsody.

[The Aspiring Songwriter] What prompted the founders of Artists First to take this step rather than set up another iTUNES-like service?

Thomas Reemer Because we believe that the power online is with your own URL. Make sure that your URL is the point for people to connect, where they go to first to get your newest release and generally hang out. Concentrate the promotion of your music around your URL; don't make other URLs more popular and other people richer.

[The Aspiring Songwriter] The pricing to use Artists First services is quite reasonable: US$9.99 set-up fee and a 10% service fee for each sale. How is it that Artists First can function profitably with this pricing scenario?

Thomas Reemer A lot of musicians will be happy to use the tools we are providing, because they work AND they are affordable, too. We know from our experience that any cash saved for a musician is saving his life. We understand their lifes. WE take the hit in the beginning. Once Artists First has grown into a driven community, it will support itself. Artists First is not profit driven.

[The Aspiring Songwriter] Explain the "drip feeding" concept with regard to CD sales and file sharing.

Thomas Reemer The Artists First model moves away from "old world" online sales of single tunes such as iTUNES and promotes "bundles" instead. Don't compete with "FREE" by putting more content into one sale. Instead, offer NEW content regularly. If your bundle appears on P2P, you should have the new one up already.

[The Aspiring Songwriter] What is different about bundles and why is this important?

Thomas Reemer Bundles are more than a single track download. Fans want to engage in the artists' world, and artists have a lot to offer like demos, different mixes, live tracks, videos, etc. Sell everything that is usually sitting on a shelf, waiting to be dusted. Our ratios prove a 4 percent uptake if an artist sells directly from their site. For a small band with 5,000 regular visitors a month, that works out at around 200 bundle sales a month, or 2400 sales a year from the system.

[The Aspiring Songwriter] What do you see are the implications for the Artists First model from this study?

Thomas Reemer You can make a living out of music after all. The tools are there, get them.

[The Aspiring Songwriter] Artists First claims to be the most powerful service of its kind. Why?

Thomas Reemer It's the mechanics. The application builds itself automatically after you have signed up. Setting up an Artists First portal on an artist's webpage is a simple cut-and-paste operation. This is power as hundreds of artists can sign up at the same time, without loosing out on quality.

[The Aspiring Songwriter] Are there any website or PC specifications necessary to use Artists First services, and if so, what are they?

Thomas Reemer No, the usual set up will do. A broadband connection will enhance the pleasure of using it dramatically.

[The Aspiring Songwriter] How many songs/bundles can I upload onto my account?

Thomas Reemer This depends on the version you get. Lite will give you one iframe, Pro gives you multiple iframes, and the Management edition will enable you to handle five artists at the same time.

[The Aspiring Songwriter] Since minors can, in fact, purchase music from an artist's website using Artists First services, are there any issues regarding parental notification or content warnings?

Thomas Reemer It is in every artist's interest to warn of explicit content as they keep responsibility over their content. We have introduced functionality whereas this can be done automatically when you upload your content.

[The Aspiring Songwriter] One of your price points is RSMS, payment through mobile phone services. Why is that a key feature?

Thomas Reemer Artists First reacts to research showing that 33 percent of all 12-25 year olds don't buy music online because they don't own a credit card. This is a problem Artists First solved by enabling fans to purchase downloads from an artist's site using their mobile phone. The uptake is enormous as it supports impulse buying, no registration, no data captured.

[The Aspiring Songwriter] Where do you currently offer this service?

Thomas Reemer Artists First services permit download purchases from 11 countries, including UK, Germany, France, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Spain, and Austria.

[The Aspiring Songwriter] What additional countries does Artists First have in the pipeline for offering services?

Thomas Reemer There are more than 14 countries in the pipeline, amongst them the USA, where the uptake of phone services has quadrupled every month since the beginning of the year.

[The Aspiring Songwriter] Do I have to have a Pay Pal account to set up my Artists First account?

Thomas Reemer Yes, all payment is processed through PayPal as it is the easiest and most common operation on the net at the moment.

[The Aspiring Songwriter] Once I've set up my Artists First account, what format(s) must be used to upload my music/bundles from my hard drive into my Artist First service account?

Thomas Reemer Any digital format is welcome although we recommend MP3.

[The Aspiring Songwriter] To what can fans download my songs/bundles?

Thomas Reemer Fans can download the content to their computers and then use it on their mobiles or iPods. We are currently working on a feature to allow content to be downloaded to mobile phones via GPRS.

[The Aspiring Songwriter] Developing a fan base is critical for artists and labels. Tell us a little about the Artists First fan registration facility options.

Thomas Reemer Your fans are your career. If you don't know the name of every single fan in front of you when you are playing a gig, you won't survive for long. Building a community with them is key, and it is easy with Artists First now. You haven't studied database management well, here is your chance to do it without having to be an expert.

[The Aspiring Songwriter] What kind of reports can I expect to generate from my Artists First account?

Thomas Reemer You will be able to see your income, where it has been generated, your bundle sales, in total, by bundle and your sales history. Enough to let you make a decent plan of what works and what doesn't.

[The Aspiring Songwriter] Can record labels utilize this service, and if so, to what benefit?

Thomas Reemer Apart from enhancing their artists' websites by offering an e-commerce platform mobile connected with 11 countries, they can use it as a risk management tool. From the statistics generated by a band on the system, the label can judge wether this band is active in building a fan base or selling. And those who are you want to sign.

[The Aspiring Songwriter] Tell us about the incubator program that will be launched for artists will it be up soon and who can participate?

Thomas Reemer This program will give artists an advance (in cash) of 20 times their earnings once they have used the system for three months and have sold monthly bundles. It is a simple way of supporting up and coming musicians. No strings attached. You repay with your future earnings through Artists First. How are we able to do that? Well, because we know how good you are at selling.

[The Aspiring Songwriter] Thank you for talking with MusicDish about Artists First. Any final thoughts, comments and advice?

Thomas Reemer Don't believe the hype! The Music Industry is great. You can go a long way on your own, and while you are doing it, use Artists First.

Provided by the MusicDish Network. Copyright © Tag It 2005 - Republished with Permission