“There are very few artists now who can get away with being brooding and distant,” Diamond says, adding that most of the artists he meets are hungry for all the data they can get. In a world where digital streaming has thoroughly fragmented the artist-fan relationship, artists are eager to take back control.

For some, that means taking special initiative. Ryan Leslie, a rapper and producer, is currently working on an app called SuperPhone, which lets musicians (or anyone, really) contact custom groups. A band, for example, might promote a new album release to its million-strong fanbase, and then an underground show to a smaller group of its most devoted followers. Each message blast comes through to fans as a personal text.

“Fan clubs and email lists are way 2000s,” Leslie says. “Music is ripe for loyalty programs.”

Startups like SuperPhone face stiff competition in this space, as the mainstream music industry starts to perk up. At the Cannes Lions advertising festival last week, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek hinted at platform updates aimed at connecting musicians and listeners.

To be sure, this new normal may be hard for some artists, particularly those keen on maintaining their privacy, or those uncomfortable with shameless self-promotion. But industry experts say artists who don’t show their listeners special attention have little chance of success. After all, if Paul McCartney can personally reply to fan mail, indie newcomers can certainly give it a shot.

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