I just read this piece in the NY Times all about Topspin and how great ‘direct to fan’ is for artists.

The “direct to fan” connection has existed in various forms since the earliest days of the Web. But musicians and managers say that only in recent years, with the rise of companies like Topspin and its competitors — among them Bandcamp, FanBridge and ReverbNation — have the tools become sophisticated enough to run all aspects of a band’s online business. Among the services are selling tracks, running fan clubs and calculating royalty payments.

Read the whole piece here.

But then I watched this video below of Ian Roger’s weekly online TV show and I realised something that I knew, but that I hadn’t really realised the true significance of before.

Direct to fan is and needs to be great for your fans as well!

Running your music career with a significant ‘direct to fan’ element is great for your fans. I know that sounds kind of obvious. I also know that an artist shouldn’t look at ‘direct to fan’ as just a marketing technique to extract dollars from fans – it’s an ethic to be applied as much as a way to maximise revenue.

But it’s easy to think that you’re building a direct pathway to fans and to lose sight of the fact that it’s a truly reciprocal relationship. You can’t lure fans in with a freemium offer and then just pummel them for cash!

They need to be getting plenty out of the arrangement – the much lauded ‘engagement’ is important from their side too.

This was highlighted to me in the video at 43.55 and on from there where the guys are talking about the latest Pixies ticket offer offered via Topspin.

The tickets were for shows in California and they sent the offer out to their Topspin hosted email list of those people only in the SoCal area.

BUT, more importantly, they didn’t tweet it, didn’t do any press releases and embargoed anyone on ‘the team’ from talking about it.

So, you had to be a Pixies fan to hear about it. The hardcore on their list heard about it and spread the word fan to fan.

The tickets were sold out before the news got past the Pixies fanbase.

And that’s how it was supposed to be and should be.

What’s my point? Well, just that if you’re building a direct to fan part of your business, treat those fans with the utmost respect and consistently give them the chance to be first in line.

Here’s that video (see 43.55 for the bit I mention), but the whole thing is great, talking about Facebook, streaming and how it’s all going to affect music.