Introducing Serenade: Music Industry Wunderkind Max Shand’s Latest Tech Innovation

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Introducing Serenade: Music Industry Wunderkind Max Shand’s Latest Tech Innovation

Words by Benjamin Lamb

We get the lowdown on Australia's exciting new music tech start-up.

2020 has undoubtedly caused much financial loss for musicians and industry personnel alike. However, if there’s been one silver lining for the music industry this year, it’s certainly been the increased virtual connections between artists and their adoring fans; with live streams, zoom parties and isolation festivals, supporters and musicians are interacting like never before.

Launching in Australia today, Serenade offers a premium virtual experience, rewarding those diehard fans with a personalised message and dedicated song. We linked up with the brains behind Serenade, Max Shand, to chat about his journey in the music industry and what led him to create this VIP service.

At the ripe age of 25, Max has already achieved what many spend years trying to accomplish. He’s on the board at FBi Radio, runs a venture capital syndicate; ‘Strangelove Investments’, writes for the Sydney Morning Herald, and was even an early employee of AfterPay – the Australian buy-now, pay-later service that’s taken the e-commerce world by storm.

His experience in these different areas across a plethora of different fields assisted in the creation of Serenade, noting to Mixdown that “Working in tech and in venture capital gave me the strategic mindset for how to build this type of product.”

Additionally, his lifelong love of music and experience in the industry has also greatly assisted in the groundwork for the site.

“I am a classic music fanboy who spends too much on merch and concert tickets. I’ve always adored musicians,” Shand says.

“Doing music journalism and working with FBi didn’t really give me any relationships (to start Serenade) but it gave me a means to empathise with artists, and develop an appreciation for the nature of their situation. Serenade needs to be a product built for the industry by the industry.”

When writing a piece for the Sydney Morning Herald about musicians’ responses to COVID–19, a statement from an interview Max conducted resonated with him.

“One musician had this fantastic line, where she said ‘Musicians need to get smart with who they play to, and they need to start playing to the front row.’”

“That left a lasting impact on me; in thinking how I can have a role in musicians playing to the front row and connecting to super-fans through delivering an experience like nothing they’ve ever received before.”

The led to the creation of Serenade, a service that allows some of Australia’s biggest and best musicians to intimately connect with their biggest fans, through sending them a personalised message and ‘Serenading’ them with a song from their catalogue.

“Serenade is all about the music. It’s all about wrapping new experiences around music to elevate a fans willingness to pay for it,” Shand says.

“Serenade treats music and musicians with the integrity it deserves. As an artist, you just need an opportunity to craft your music in a new way such that you can benefit financially from it.” 

Artists set their own price, and after the video is delivered to the fan, they get 75% and Serenade takes a 25% cut – maximising artist share being an important attribute. 

“It’s supplementary income, it’s a new thing to add to your broader suite of tools that can help build your career as an artist.”

For a large portion of the year, we’ve seen touring and other avenues of artist revenue dry up, so many have moved onto social media to maintain contact with their devoted fanbase, and Serenade plays into that.

“Artists are now constantly on social media, they’re constantly in front of their fans,” Shand notes.

“What Serenade does is it says you can maintain and elevate this relationship with your fans, and you’re being adequately compensated for it, when you deliver something, it’s gonna be something you’re proud of.” 

But over the last few weeks, we’re slowly seeing the music industry open back up and tours slowly return, artists are finding / regaining old sources of income. But Max still sees Serenade being an integral part to the lives of artists. The more premium prices that artists set allows for the service to develop a degree of longevity far into post-COVID times.

“As the world returns to normal, and artists are hopefully touring and playing to bigger audiences, Serenade is a fantastic thing to do before a show, when you’re doing soundcheck, and it’s a great thing to on the weekend when you’re practicing with your band,” he explains.  

For now, Serenade hosts a packed roster of our most loved artists; like Didirri, Ash Grunwald, Ella Hooper and Hannah Cameron, among many more, with longer term plans to potentially expand to international artists, if the opportunity arises; 

“Our primary goal right now is to create a sustainable way to promote Aussie music and create a new revenue stream for Australian artists. If there are opportunities to work with international artists in the future, we’ll definitely love to be able to do it.” 

But the bevy of acts on the site have expressed much joy and appreciation for being involved in creating memories for their biggest fans.

“The artist response has been really lovely,” Shand says.

“They’re loving the opportunity to get feedback from their fans, they’re hearing why a fan loves their music, they’re tailoring a message around that love, then they’re going into one of their existing songs and creating this incredibly special moment just for a super-fan.

“They’re loving how fans are saying how they’re going to more concerts in future, buying more merch and engaging with more of their music.” 

These “super-fans in the front row” who have already used Serenade have really appreciated their direct channels to some of their favourite artists. Max says fans are loving the opportunities Serenade brings.

“They get to bring artists back into the special moments that they share with them, lots of Serenades that have been booked are for anniversaries, but those booking the Serenades are from people who went to that concert with the recipient, or had their first kiss to a certain song. Fans are just really happy that their artists have finally grown willing to deliver this fantastic content for them.

“On both sides, there’s a real enthusiasm for creating something beautiful that everybody loves!” 


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Check out their hot roster and dive into more info about Serenade here.