Ruth's interview with Global Entertainment Network

We have come to a significant and crucial time in our industries. While there are literally hundreds or thousands of websites that claim they have artist services, what separates iFanz from the others?
We are really the only B2B site out there specifically for entertainers and their management. There are other B2C services who do a great job, but we are more of a "BMI" or "ASCAP" - we are here to serve the musicians and entertainers not to build a consumer brand per se.

What was your inspiration to create the company?
At the time, David Cassidy was a client and we were collecting thousands of email forms which were coming in to my email box. I was spending every Saturday and half of Sunday cutting and pasting them into a spreadsheet and we just thought there had to be a better way! I did grow up making my pocket money helping with both the Beatles' and Wings' Fan clubs so I had a little background!

Exactly how does it work and what are the significant benefits?
iFanz is unique. Firstly, if you don't have a web page yet, it creates on for you - http://yourname.ifanz.net. With this, you can at least print flyers, biz cards etc and get people to come to the page and register in your database. Secondly, it allows you to download data and analyze WHERE your fans are. Don't plan to play Chicago, or sign a book in Ft. Lauderdale if your fans are clearly registered in Dallas and Raleigh. Then it allows to create HTML mail and send it state by state, zip by zip. It even lets you create an automated "Happy Birthday" personalized message to your fans which is pulled from the base every night at midnight. You can use it to poll your fans to find out what merchandise to offer, which of your greatest hits to re-record for a release and a million other things...It truly creates a relationship with your customer so you have permission to go back to them time and time again and turn them into a repeat business...you can take the Flash tour at http://www.ifanz.com/flashtour/flashtour.html

Who do you feel would benefit the most from iFanz?
Absolutely anyone who wants to know who and where their customers are and what they would buy more or less of. We have emerging artists, legacy musicians, small hotels, large corporations, sports stars, chefs, authors - they all need to stay in touch with their customers.

There appears to be a big misconception on-line.... that by just having a presence, it actually means something. With hundreds of thousands of unsigned artists on web sites, do you really feel there is too much noise out there?
I think the big argument is quantity over quality. There are sites which have no A&R process and allow bands to load up anything at all...for the end user therefore, they have to spend their most precious commodity - TIME - wading through tons of crap to get to the good stuff. I think if there were more portals like awal.com or services like Tonos or Taxi, the quantity issue would slowly fade away. On the flip side of that, there is if course a cost associated with listening to tons of material but the bands have to invest a small amount in that if they truly believe they have the goods. Steve Jobs has been very smart not to fall victim to the "mass=money" temptation. Consumers are very discerning, they will not become loyal users of a service or site that wastes their time. Online, where almost everything is free, the one commodity valued above all is time. High speed, download time, ease of use and all the other things - that as a traditional agency we encounter all the time - the same holds true for music searches, search engines everything. That said, it's a free country and if you want to have a 3 minute file of flatulence for download at your site - rock on!

How does an artist or an independent label take advantage of what you have to provide for them in a positive way?
Firstly, an indie label is able to use iFanz to aggregate by GENRE. iFanz has a sophisticated genre engine which would allow any label to see the growth curve in a specific musical area. It would also then naturally allow them to pair bands up, create samplers for certain user groups, plan tours, plan radio promotion, in stores. We also have an industry specific and geographical targeted PR Bot we work with and iFanz members get special rates.

A band can use iFanz for all of the above but they can also produce individually made merchandise on demand. Why have them save up for 300 T-Shirts when they might get requests for different sizes, colours etc - this way, they give us the logo, we place it on virtual merch - 22 items to be precise - and then once a fan has pre-paid for the item, we make it, ship it, collect the credit card etc. The band names their price and we create a 50/50 partnership with them. So, in other words, they sell a T-Shirt for $20, they had no investment, no hassles, they get a check from us 30 days later for $10.

In which directions is your company headed?
We will eventually do 2 things - initially, by becoming a non-exclusive digital label, we will be able to offer select clients' music for sale as digital downloads at some of the larger branded sites and then from there, we plan to create OEM opportunities with hardware / box makers, car manufacturers and some of the larger ISPs and their wide distribution channels. In other words, "The 10 Best Bands You Never Heard" will be a music sampler when you open up your new computer, scanner, glove box, dial up kit etc etc. The Corporations get to pay wholesale for a customer thank you (or acquisition) , the bands get their music heard, and it is a positive experiential marketing position for all - including the consumer. We like win-win deals but we like win-win-win a lot better.
Secondly, we will spin the iFanz eCRM engine out into other vertical markets in the next 6 months - watch this space!

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up?
Thank God for another day above ground and no earthquakes last night!

The last thought at the end of the day?
Please don't let there be an earthquake tonight and please let me wake up tomorrow and save the world - or at least the music business! Presumptuous Digital Diva aren't I?

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