How Simon (Push CEO) learnt from Daft-Punk the importance of a ‘continuous consistent relationship’.
In 2001, seven years before Spotify, Daft Punk built a 600,000 strong online fan club in three weeks.
20 years ago today (26th Feb 2001) Discovery, the second Daft Punk album was released. Twelve months earlier I had found myself sitting opposite the Daft Punk team on a sun terrace in Los Angeles. After admitting that I knew the singles but had not heard their first record (I thought it best not to lie) we discussed whether the company that I then worked for, Intertrust, could help them deliver their vision for their next album. Their request, when viewed through a 2020 lens, was simple – they’d spent two years making this record and wanted to deconstruct it over the next two years and deliver it to their fans, could we help them?. For some context, this all took place in 2000, 4 years before Apple introduced iTunes, 7 years before Spotify and InterTrust (the inventor of DRM) was about to launch a new digital infrastructure that would allow content to be tied to specific devices and individuals.
Daft Punk understood the power of what they did, and for me, as a music fan, their thinking was totally logical: They appreciated the geeky and inquisitive nature of their fans and knew that they would love to get behind the scenes. Daft Punk also understood that if they did that in a continuous consistent way (drops every two weeks with a timetable) that they would build stronger longer inspiring relationships.
They did not, however, want to give their music away, they owned their digital rights and wanted to protect them. My job was to ensure that only purchasers of the CD could get access to the continuous content but to do it all in a way that matched the Daft Punk aesthetic. The next nine months was spent explaining the art of the possible to the most amazing creative and driven team I have ever worked with, cajoling engineers and EMI to do things they didn’t really want to do as we devised and built the Daft Club.
When finally released, every CD copy of the album contained a uniquely numbered Daft Card. The purchaser visited daftclub.com entered their code to get anonymous and secure access to the content as it was released. The uptake was phenomenal, in week one 28% of the albums that were sold had their membership activated. Daft Club reached 600,000 members in three weeks, a faster uptake then the Tesco Clubcard (the same company printed both cards).
The lessons I learnt then still resonate today.
When I am asked why that happened, there is only really one answer: Daft Punk understood their fans and built a relationship that gave fans the access and content they really wanted, direct from them. In turn, those fans respected that this experience was not available for free, they knew that the content had meaning and that buying the album was the price of entry.
Of course a continuous relationship is now at the centre of every progressive creative force, be that Charli XCX creating with her fans or Zoella managing to combine traditional influencer activities with her own blog that raises issues that her followers will want to debate. These both demonstrate an ability to communicate with the attention to detail that makes the audience feel individual and cared for.
Today our team work with companies and individuals who want to build a lasting relationship with their communities, be it The Feminist Book Box for Hachette (a monthly subscription service), the global merchandising store for WarHammer or working with the new breed of creatives such as The Girls Bathroom and Ordinary Owl, helping them build influencer led community brands.
Push Entertainment was formed sixteen years ago with this understanding at heart: technology may change, social channels will rise and fall, likes and follower volumes can chart success — but for an enduring business, start with the real fans and serve them well, as individuals and with whatever effort necessary. In this world you are not what you do but how you do it.