How Tom DeLonge Hopes to Change the Music Business

Tom DeLonge, the same guitarist and singer who rose to the top of the Billboard charts with songs such as All The Small Things with his successful pop-punk band Blink-182, is making web software for the biggest rock ‘n’ roll stars on Earth.

From Nine Inch Nails and Pearl Jam to Jack White, DeLonge, 38, has convinced these musicians to hop on board with his developmental software platform called Modlife.

Modlife is a customizable platform that streamlines the process of selling digital and physical product packages. If you’re thinking about buying a specific iTunes album, Modlife will encourage that purchase with a hand-screened poster to go along with it. Want to see a live concert? Modlife provides the access for the consumer to pay extra and get access to the usually inaccessible areas.

When DeLonge went on tour last year with his side project, Angels and Airwaves (their new album, Poet Anderson The Dream Walker is released today), he sold a limited number of VIP ticket packages that doubled the tour income. Forty percent of revenue from each new Angel and Airwaves release comes from direct-to-consumer digital and physical multimedia packages via Modlife.

The software also cuts costs by introducing programs like a live chat into its platform, so artists don’t have to pay for a third-party host. They’ve even figured a way to avoid scalpers by creating a lottery system where VIP fans sign up to win the chance to buy prime seating for a variety of concerts in different venues.

Even if they won, scalpers would potentially have to travel to nearby cities to sell their tickets, taking away most of their cash gains and incentives.

DeLonge tells fastcompany.com that he invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in Modlife because he envisions that the future of art will be released on media platforms.

“Kids use the computer to record in their living room, but they’re also using the computer to make movies on their iPhone,” DeLonge says. “The artists of the future are going to be doing a lot more ambitious things that will all blend together.”

DeLonge will be there to monetize it all in one simple package. To him, it’s the whole package that attracts people to make a purchase instead of just stream or download a free copy.

DeLonge believes Modlife is for the artist who doesn’t want to rely on the record label to call the shots on their recording careers.

“Modlife makes money through revenue share, and always takes a minority position to build trust with the artist,” says DeLonge. “With Modlife’s platform of selling directly from artist to consumer, major-label artists can now make money independently.”

DeLonge believes it’s time for artists to look beyond all the third-party corporations that are stealing from them and that streaming services like Spotify only work for older catalogs and less so for an artist that is actively trying to sell records.

“People need to rethink what streaming is doing for them,” DeLonge says.

In an article last month on fastlouder.com DeLonge compared the effect that streaming services were having on the music industry to killing an endangered animal.
 I tell people condoning streaming is like condoning the Chinese that are killing elephants for their tusks and carving ivory statues. It’s cool to put on your shelf but if you really think about what you’re doing, it sucks. Streaming music is doing the same thing to artists – might not be killing ’em but it’s killing the industry. It might be cool for you as somebody that likes music but you’re not really thinking about the effect it has. We’ve got to value our art, you know?
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