Known for his signature uplifting sound, dance music beatsmith and music entrepreneur Sam Feldt has developed a remarkable global fan base. Feldt, who registered his first company with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce at the tender age of 13, developed early passions for entrepreneurship and music and eventually launched extremely successful career as a touring artist. Prior to the pandemic, he would sometimes even perform with a live band at the nation's largest music festivals, such as Coachella, Ultra Music Festival, and Life is Beautiful.
All the while, Feldt never lost his sight of his passion for entrepreneurship. In 2016, when his career truly began taking off following his successful remake of Robin S' iconic dance anthem "Show Me Love," he founded Fangage.
The company was born out of Sam's desire to more easily connect with his fans. It provides an online service where artists, creators, and brands can easily build an online platform for fans. This allows them to collect data and track fan insights in order to engage with their followers in novel ways. Fangage attracted some household names in the EDM sphere, such as Oliver Heldens and Laidback Luke, from the very beginning.
In 2020, Feldt relaunched the company as Fangage 2.0 with added bonuses and features. The platform provides artists and brands—no matter the genre or industry—with more opportunities to connect with fans and monetize engagement.
EDM.com chatted with Feldt learn more about his recent collaboration "Stronger" with Kesha, the the Heartfeldt Records empire, and how Fangage 2.0 helps solve the many complexities of social media engagement.
EDM.com: What was the experience like launching Fangage 2.0 during the pandemic?
Sam Feldt: It’s the perfect time really. People are realizing more and more that digital fan engagement is all that you have at the moment. Events aren’t happening, so digital is pretty much the only way as a fan or artist to maintain that relationship.
We started building this version back in 2019 before the pandemic and it actually helped us. All the people started realizing that they need a system like Fangage to take control of their fan base and monetize their fan base outside of ticket sales and also take ownership of their fan base. That is super important to build a sustainable artist career.
EDM.com: Do you feel like Fangage has helped artists create additional revenue during this challenging time in the music industry?
Sam Feldt: Absolutely. Just look at the rise of platforms like Patreon and Only Fans. Fangage definitely fits in that kind of circle. We have three big benefits when compared to Patreon.
First, it’s on your own website so you’re sending fans to your own website which runs off of Fangage but is fully branded. Another thing is that on Patreon you pay 12 percent commission and with us you pay four. Also, the data ownership. As an artist and creator you own the data of your fans. You decide how many fans you want to reach rather than having the algorithms decide for you.
EDM.com: Do you feel like the pandemic influenced your growth or made it more challenging?
Sam Feldt: We don’t know how it would’ve gone if the pandemic wasn’t around but I feel like people had more time so they finally took up projects that they’d postponed. They could create more content and do things like setting up their Fangage website. In that way it actually benefited us.
EDM.com: What do you think are some of the challenges artists face when looking to engage with fans today?
Sam Feldt: Your followers aren’t really yours. I recently did a talk about it on Clubhouse. People will think I have a million followers, my career is going great but they’re not really fans. They’re just a number if you’re only reaching one or two or five percent of them. And if you have to pay to reach your followers, are they really yours?
When we started the algorithms weren’t as bad as they are now. Even though your followers might go up, your reach would go down. I see that trend happening. If you don’t own the relationships with your fans, then you’re completely at the mercy of the third party platforms in order to engage with them. That’s not a solid foundation to build a career on. You’re building a foundation on borrowed ground you could say.
EDM.com: What specific upgrades have you made with Fangage 2.0?
Sam Feldt: We completely rewrote the code from the ground up and the architecture. It’s really like a cloud solution now. People can now easily sign up for their own profile in less than a minute. Before it took us many hours to sign up and many set up costs. Now we’ve launched subscriptions that allow any creator to sell content, membership, and subscriptions directly to fans at very low commissions. Our platform is also multilingual so we cater to fans across the globe.
EDM.com: Do you require all Fangage users to create a profile? Is there a guest checkout option?
Sam Feldt: You can check a box called "guest content." You can make content only visible to visitors, signed up fans or fans core to limit content only to fans who’ve completed their profile up to a certain point. We reward fans for providing their data. You also have the option to create subscriptions or provide additional data.
How did you design your user interface to be friendly? We work with a very talented team of designers. I come from a design background. My partner and our CEO runs the largest digital agency in the Netherlands so he has a lot of experience in UX and UI. I also pay dues to Fangage because I’m part of our target demographic. If I understand the platform as an artist then other artists will understand it too. The two of us together given our diverse backgrounds is a good mix.
EDM.com: As a musician and entrepreneur, what is your collaborative process like?
Sam Feldt: Both in business and in music I always try to go for the most interesting collaborations, not predictable ones. Examples of this are my collaborations with Jeremy Renner or Shaggy or Akon. Everyone expects me to collaborate with Kygo. For example, my latest song with Kesha, if you put those two names together no one would’ve expected that we would collaborate. No one would be able to tell you how that song would sound. The same thing in business.
EDM.com: How did you use Fangage to promote your new single with Kesha?
Sam Feldt: I have 40,000 fans in Fangage, so about ten percent of my followers on Instagram. These aren’t just followers, these are my super-fans who took the time to fill out their profiles. With Fangage I can target those fans or specific fan groups with campaigns on their phones, email, voice campaigns… It’s a very direct way to get in touch with my most valuable fans.
Also if I see that “Stronger” is almost charting in Norway in spot twenty and we need to get into the top twenty, I can blast out a text message to all my fans in Norway and say, “We need your support, go buy the track on iTunes.” Then one thousand people in Norway would get a text message with a link to the track in iTunes. That’d hopefully help break the track into the top ten.
So having the option to really laser target campaigns. It helps with music but it also helps with shows. Like if I had an upcoming show in New York and I landed, I’d send out a text message blast to all my fans in the area about the two tickets left and hopefully sell out my show in a minute. That’s mostly how I used it before COVID, with touring and selling tickets.
EDM.com: Can you tell us more about the Heartfeldt Foundation and Heartfeldt business venture?
Sam Feldt: Heartfeldt comes from the heart so it represents everything I’m passionate about. The ecosystem is a group of companies that works together and all have synergy. For example, one percent of all of the royalties we make in the record company for Heartfeldt Records go directly to the Heartfeldt Foundation where we support projects like protecting the rainforests in Costa Rica. We’re also doing a project in Uganda and we’re building Heartfeldt Forest in the Netherlands, an educational center, and a vegan restaurant.
We work on four pillars: Give, Do, Inspire, and Empower. Give is raising money, Do is changing things in your own life and leading by example like a plastic free rider, Inspire is talking about what we’re doing on socials and in the media, and Empower is about supporting companies that are doing well.
Heartfeldt is the record label and foundation but also the events. At ADE 2019 we held a Heartfeldt Neon Jungle event that was completely carbon neutral but also sustainable. All the profits got donated to the Heartfeldt Foundation to support our projects. If one company in the group does well, it supports the entire ecosystem.
EDM.com: What are Fangage’s plans for the rest of this year?
Sam Feldt: Earlier this year we launched the paid content feature. We’re working on a livestream capability so you can host streams outside of third party platforms. You can just livestream with your fans directly. We’re launching engagement automation that allows you to do things like text fans on their birthday. We’re adding things like voice engagement to allow creators to send out voice messages to a group of fans. When the group of fans pick up, it’ll actually be their favorite artists talking to them.
EDM.com: What are you planning in your music career at the moment?
Sam Feldt: Coming off the success of the Kesha single, I think I have about ten to fifteen songs that might come out this year, so maybe a new Sam Feldt album at the end of the year. Or perhaps next year. We’re at least trying to focus on four or five big singles for now. The cool thing that is going off the Kesha collab with a name that everybody knows, I’m getting so many new toplines and so many new collaboration requests from big pop artists. It’s really cool to see.
On the label side, we launched it at last March at the beginning of COVID. It was a weird time to launch a new company but it’s working. We did around thirty releases in the last year. We built the company from scratch so it was hard. It’s exciting to be building those artists careers from the beginning and to help them get their place in the spotlight.
As a token of Feldt's gratitude to EDM.com readers, he has offered the opportunity to extend Fangage's two-week trial membership to three months. You can reach out to Fangage directly to learn more about this amazing opportunity.