Over the last few years, I've been talking to clients and members about how to get a core group of your fans to fund your recording sessions by selling pre-order copies and letting folks purchase "executive producer" credits on discs. We've even had folks use neat little PayPal donation meters to track their progress.
Today, I ran across SellaBand. It's an interesting startup with a really compelling idea. Follow this logic:
Like me, SellaBand believes that your music is your most powerful marketing tool. Giving it away for free can net you the most new audience members (and revenue sources) in the long run.
However, paying for a good recording is very hard.
By offering a free and easy tool for fans to contribute to a recording budget, artists can get to the studio more quickly.
When your budget reaches $50,000, you get teamed with an experienced A&R professional and a producer from SellaBand's advisory board to help cut the record.
When the record's done, everyone who supported you gets a copy of the CD and SellaBand distributes free downloads to promote more sales.
Freakin' genius, y'all. They use a budget of $50,000 as an arbiter -- very much like my own -- of whether you've got enough fans in place to support a full album. (Less than 5,000 folks on your mailing list means you're better off sticking to releasing inexpensive live and demo recordings as EPs for now.)
And I love the transparency. SellaBand becomes your label and your publisher, but there's nothing I see in their T&C's that is any different/worse than what you would get from signing with any other publisher or label. (in fact, the margins are slightly better, at first glance.) And, if you can't reach your goal, your fans get their money back.
I wish I had thought of this!
[ via Springwise, the bullpen for every excellent idea ]