Designing Interactions

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Blixa Bargeld with Erin Zhu

Blixa Bargeld, former guitarist with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, leads an innovative industrial Goth-rock band called Einsturzende Neubauten, based in Berlin. Band members work with whatever readymade scrapheap objects they can find to act as musical instruments, hence the label industrial rock. Blixa's wife, Erin Zhu, an American originally from China, has extensive experience working in Internet start-ups. Soon after their marriage, Erin was able to help the band develop an elaborate Web-based fan subscription experiment that bypasses the traditional music business, allowing them to release the album Alles Wieder Offen in 2007. They have continued to develop this model because without the sponsorship of a record company they rely on fans to donate subscriptions for exclusive editions of the CDs and DVDs plus privileged access to the musicians and the entire creative process.

Blixa Bargeld has been leading an innovative industrial rock band based in Berlin for decades and has accumulated a loyal and enthusiastic community of fans. Working in the traditional relationship to music publishers, he was never able to do more than cover the costs of production and even that level of support was steadily eroding. In the next interview, with Blixa and his wife, Erin Zhu, we learn how a band like his can bypass the traditional music business, developing a self-supporting economic model based on subscriptions from fans, enabled by the Internet.