Sellaband and Musical Innovation

By SamuelRose, published at 10 May 2007 - 8:12pm, last updated 10 years 27 weeks ago.

OpenBusiness » Blog Archive » Sellaband - A Truly Distributed Music Business

Received this message today from Michel Bauwens:

Today Johan Vosmeijer and Pim Betist of Sellaband.com will start writing about the goals and background of a real innovation in running a music business based on profit sharing and bringing together artists and music lovers directly. This is the start of a series by OpenBusiness.cc featuring cutting edge entrepenuers and thinkers.

While “big music” is in crisis and their business model seems increasingly outdated innovation is happening at the edges. Sellaband is an extremly inspiring example of how the disintermediation pf old music models by the internet produces new immediate platforms where artists, marketing, distribution (of the music and profit) become a combined package (for film see: Revver.com).

For More see:

And for Johan's first post:

In case you're wondering how Sellaband works:
On www.sellaband.com Artists and fans have one goal. Make music and profit together. Artists load up their music and profile. Fans look for Artists they like and believe in. With $10, they become Believers by buying a piece of an Artist’s future income on SellaBand. Once an Artist has reached the goal of $50,000, SellaBand uses this amount to record a CD. Then they provide the Artist with a high end studio, an experienced A&R manager and a top producer. After that they send the music in exclusive digipacks to the Believers.

Both Believers and Artist are now in business together. The music is given away for free on our website. The generated advertising revenues are being split evenly between the artist, the believers and SellaBand.

Having been a recording musician myself, I think the concept is interesting. The arrangement is definitely better than the old recording industry models.
Interested to know exactly what $50,000 buys? Here's the Sellaband agreement:
Once an Artist has officially reached the Goal of $50,000 he/she is obliged to fulfill the recording commitment with SellaBand. Of the $50,000, $30,000 will be used for recording the CD. SellaBand will assign an A&R- manager who will book the producer, studio and mastering facility. The rest of the budget will be used for manufacturing, packaging and posting the 5,000 CDs for your Believers.

I know that it is possible to create a recording of the highest professional quality for far less money than $30,000. I assume that $30,000 buys time in a well known/big name and very expensive studio. And, I assume that it also pays the A&R person's up front costs.
Browsing through the Top 30 section of the Sellaband.com site's jukebox, I see that the Sellaband.com model appears to be producing a certain type of music. That type of music is more pop-oriented and derivative. There is not a lot of ground breaking, or cutting edge sounding music there. But this is to be expected if music artists are being guided by A&R people, who are helping them shape their sound and image to fit commercial radio formats.
It may seem hard to believe, but I am convinced that a huge number of artists will not use Sellaband.com, because of the issues that will likely arise with artistic and image control and direction. I think a similar model could work for music artists and bands that want to have more control over their artistic direction. It is not clear how much control the artist/band will have when they go into the studio. I think that the artists should be given the option of foregoing an A&R rep and expensive studio. This can open up options for musical and technological innovation. One of many examples:
The Album "Zaireeka", by the Flaming Lips. The idea for this album was to create a box set of 4 CD's that must all be played at the same time on four different CD Players to hear the entire album. Flaming Lip Wayne Coyne said that this was partially an experiment in listener participation. It was his hope and design that the need to have 4 CD players, and four people to synchronize the playing of the album would "bring people together". This concept was actually very successful, and the limited edition album sold out within a year of it's release. (The Flaming Lips also designed and organized audience participation concepts as a "tour" for the Zaireeka album, including the Parking Lot Experiments, and the Boombox Experiments.)
It was everything that the Falming ips could do to convince their major label to experiment with this idea. I think that if an artist or band is able to convince people to cough up $50,000 on Sellaband.com, that they should be able to do something like the Zaireeka album experiment, if they can pull it off. And they should have the option of doing the recording themselves, or choosing their own studio, and dropping an A&R rep.
I salute the creators of Sellaband.com for their imagination, and for making peer-funded music a reality. Yet, I think I also think that, under the current conditions, that really innovative music and ideas will be hard to find at Sellaband.com.
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