The fan club goes digital

Those days of floppy discs in the post have gone. Stars are using websites to offer exclusive and free content. Elisa Bray reports

Remember when CDs used to come with an inlay card for you to post back to the band's fan club? What happened to those fan clubs? Well, many may no longer exist with a postal code, but they remain in various incarnations all over the internet, as bands develop their websites to interact more with their fans.

It's why Squeeze's Chris Difford and his manager created the Saturday Morning Music Club. Fans who subscribed to it could download Difford's last solo album track-by-track on a Saturday, and it is now putting out a Squeeze greatest hits album. Difford told me: "I was a member of the Beatles' fan club and I really looked forward to getting the floppy disc that they used to send out. With the internet there's no thought for fan clubs any more. Delivering music in this way hopefully involves the fan in a more unique process."

In October a new "super site" launches that will pave the way for other young acts to launch their own subscription-based sites. McFly's venture aims to combat piracy by offering its users music by the band as soon as it's recorded – before it becomes available anywhere else. Costing £250,000 to build, the site provides free content, but it's the subscriber sections, giving fans access for a fee of £6 per month, or £50 per year, which render it like a fan club.

"This is the modern day equivalent," said McFly's manager Fletch, who helped set up the site. "Where it differs is we are a one-stop shop. You couldn't have had music distributed through a fan club – you had to go to the retailers."

Bands are realising just how important their fans are, by offering a unique hub to find the latest news and music. Here are some more connecting with their fans on the web in interesting ways.

Gorillaz

Being a virtual band, Gorillaz have resided mainly on their website (below) for nine years. As the place to find the band and hear their latest news, the site also became the hub for their last release, Plastic Beach. With EMI, Jamie Hewlett's company, Zombie, revamped the website around the Plastic Beach concept and the site features games, and a subscription-based members' area called Sub Division.

gorillaz.com/sub-division



Deerhunter

The American indie-rock four-piece have launched an "interactive Xerox art project" through their new website to coincide with the release of their album, Halcyon Digest. Inspired by 1970s and 1980s artwork and the cut-and-paste style of their New Wave heroes, the band asked fans to print out a poster designed by their frontman, Bradford Cox, place the posters in strategic places around town, photograph them and email them to the band. Fans participating were rewarded with exclusive access to the first single, "Revival", via a password-protected section of the site. The photos themselves are displayed on the site.

halcyondigest.com



Akala

Also known as Ms Dynamite's younger brother, Akala has been establishing himself as a rapper bringing Shakespeare to youngsters ever since he founded the Hip Hop Shakespeare Company. On his site he shares his passion for books, discussing them with his fans and encouraging fans to explore spoken word.

akalamusic.com



Riz MC

London rapper Riz MC's new interactive, sci fi-themed website, The Lab, was created for his debut, concept, album, MICroscope, which will be released in January. The site is designed to introduce audiences to the story behind his sci-fi world and its music via a three-minute web game, while for dedicated fans it is an extension of the sci-fi theme of his live show. After completion of the game, fans are given three free tracks from the album to download. The website recently won an Favourite Website Award for innovation in digital design. Riz MC explains: "This is a subversive, interactive, music-video site that allows you to download free music. You go undercover as a MICroscope Sonic Resistance Forces agent, into the heart of the DOCC [Department of Culture and Communication], to sabotage their cruel music and mind- control experiments."

rizmc.com/lab/



Underworld

The electro duo, who have been going since 1980, were active online before most. They have kept a daily blog for nearly 10 years on their website (below) – they were one of the first bands to properly embrace blogging, followed by countless artists, including Lily Allen. The site also hosts the band's radio show, while the art section links to their art-and-design collective, Tomato, and currently previews Karl Hyde's first major exhibition in Japan. They were also one of the first established acts to release music exclusively through their own website with the Riverrun album project, when they sold a series of internet-only tracks direct to the band's fanbase (including music, artwork, and pictures) two years before Radiohead sold In Rainbows online. It was Riverrun which went on to inspire the band's score in Danny Boyle's 2007 movie Sunshine.

underworldlive.com



Lightspeed Champion

Dev Hynes, best known to his fans as Lightspeed Champion, has just launched his new interactive website (below). You can sign up to download a track for free ("Heavy Purple", which was recorded recently in New York), and secure access to exclusive music, short films and photos loaded by Hynes, as well as his blog. You can also create a profile, load images and videos and talk to fellow fans. Currently you can enjoy Hynes's wordplay in his three-sentence movie reviews, as well as his pun of the day.

lightspeedchampion.com



Jamie Cullum

The jazz singer interacts most with fans on Facebook and Twitter, but his website allows them to upload gig photos and videos (via YouTube) for each performance, meaning there's lots of user-generated content. He is currently giving away a free track via unique Pins printed on the wristbands that fans receive at gigs. Anyone who signs up to his site has advance notice on tickets and occasional exclusives.

jamiecullum.com



Pendulum

The drum'n'bass act were the first band to stream a live performance of a new album during the writing process to enable fans to give feedback and help finish the album; 350,000 people watched it and made more than 50,000 comments.

pendulum.com



Muse

One of the most advanced fan sites to date, Muse.mu features fans on a world map, and fans can access documentary content when pre-ordering albums.

muse.mu



Tinie Tempah

The rapper's site was created using WordPress, and designed to work well on iPhone and iPad, as well as standard web browsers, so fans can keep up to date with the rapper's regular blogging. When he signed the deal with EMI for his second album, he ran a competition on his website. The winning "superfan" landed the chance to go to the signing deal – high tea at Claridges – and the star uploaded a video of the occasion.

tinietempah.com



Marina and the Diamonds

Marina Diamandis took such huge interest in her fans from the start that the Diamonds part of her stage name represents them. She has grown in fame since her early blog, and her website now boasts a VIP area for "super-fans", the Diamond Club. There, she offers first option on the best tickets for her shows, free songs and remixes, photos, and a blog, aiming to keep fans loyal.

marinaandthediamonds.com



Biffy Clyro

The Mercury-nominated band have a fan club area on their site (above) called Team Biffy where 40,000 fans are members. A "gig module" lets fans discuss gigs past and present. The site also offers widgets, tickets, and more.

biffyclyro.com

Arts and Entertainment
Kathy (Sally Lindsay) in Ordinary Lies
tvReview: The seemingly dull Kathy proves her life is anything but a snoozefest
Arts and Entertainment

Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boy

music
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig in a scene from ‘Spectre’, released in the UK on 23 October

film
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap

film
Arts and Entertainment

Poldark review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Katie Brayben is nominated for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Carole King in Beautiful

film
Arts and Entertainment
Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast to play Wonder Woman
film
News
Top Gear presenter James May appears to be struggling with his new-found free time
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kendrick Lamar at the Made in America Festival in Los Angeles last summer
music
Arts and Entertainment
'Marley & Me' with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Hamm (right) and John Slattery in the final series of Mad Men
tv
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

    War with Isis

    Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
    Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

    A spring in your step?

    Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
    Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

    Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

    Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
    Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

    Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

    For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
    Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

    Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

    As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
    The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

    UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

    Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
    Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

    Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

    Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
    Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

    Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

    If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
    10 best compact cameras

    A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

    If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
    Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

    Paul Scholes column

    Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
    Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

    Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

    Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
    Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

    Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

    The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?