Bernard Fanning joins new private music platform


You may not be able to see your favourite musician on tour just yet, but now you can book them to privately serenade you courtesy of a new platform linking superfans with Australian artists.

Bernard Fanning is the latest artist to sign on to Serenade, a start-up platform featuring dozens of Aussie artists who will record a private, one-off video performance just for you.

It costs from $150 to $1500 to book an artist, with big names currently on offer including Lime Cordiale, G Flip, The Church's Steve Kilbey, Choirboys' Mark Gable, Ella Hooper and Tim Rogers.

Serenade patron Fanning said he has fielded countless thousands of fan requests for a song to soundtrack a wedding proposal, birthday or funeral over the decades.

The Powderfinger frontman and award-winning solo artist and longtime manager Paul Piticco had been throwing around a similar concept to the celeb shout-out site Cameo when they discovered tech entrepreneur Max Shand quietly launched Serenade during the live music shutdown last year.

Bernard Fanning is the February patron for the Serenade start-up. Picture: Supplied/Cybele Malinowski
Bernard Fanning is the February patron for the Serenade start-up. Picture: Supplied/Cybele Malinowski

"I really liked the idea this was a music only platform, not about recording a message for someone to break up with their girlfriend or something," Fanning said.

"At the risk of sounding pretty cheesy, it's more the idea that if you if you are lucky enough to be able to bring people joy with the job that you do, then why not?"

Fanning said the site also responded to the increasing expectations of artists to virtually "connect" with their fans via social media.

And for emerging and mid-range artists facing dire financial instability due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions on live music, Serenade also offered musicians a new income stream.

Serenade founder Shand, who worked at Afterpay for four years, came up with the idea early in the first pandemic lockdowns after speaking to several musicians about the dire impact of the live music shutdown.

"One told me he might be on the street if he couldn't do a gig within the next month and I realised there was an insane disparity between the perception of fans and the reality of what was happening," Shand said.

"I am a complete fanboy and I thought surely there was a way to take this immense love we have for our musicians and their songs and wrap it up so the fan gets something and the artist gets paid."

Indie pop star G-Flip sold out her six Serenades last month. Picture: Supplied
Indie pop star G-Flip sold out her six Serenades last month. Picture: Supplied

Fanning, as Serenade's February patron, is bolstering the platform's roster by bringing three "support acts" to the Serenade fold - singer-songwriters Ben Salter, Emily Wurramara and Hope D.

The site will prove attractive to artists wanting to offer bespoke experiences for fans because they are able to control everything from setting their booking fee, how many they will record to a month, which songs are on offer and whether or not it can be shared via social media.

Fanning is a no on shareability (he would prefer it to remain between the serenader and serenadee) but for emerging artists, fans sharing the Serenade performance could potentially turn on new followers.

And it pays well, with artists getting 70 per cent of the booking fee.

Former patron of the month G Flip was booking her Serenades for $500 and sold out her six on offer in a day in December.

"After all, this is a gig," Fanning said. "You think of the numerous ways that musicians have just been getting their income stripped and stripped and stripped away, especially since streaming began, with regard to the money that you are entitled to as an artist for creating something.

"Now, also the physical circumstances of going and exploiting what we create by playing live, which is one of the only ways that artists can make money, is also heavily restricted for the time being.

"This is a way to actually get money directly to the artist."

Originally published as Bernard Fanning joins new private music platform