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Have I blogged about SellaBand before? Basically an artist signs up and then tries to get 5,000 people (“believers”) to donate $10 towards the recording of a CD.

It’s been getting some decent press so I was wondering why I’m not doing it. I went to sign up tonight and read the following in the conditions:

  • 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.
  • SellaBand will own the Album Master for 12 months after completion of the recording of the CD. After one full year you will get the full rights to the Album Master.
  • Only for the songs you will record with SellaBand you must sign a Publishing Agreement with SellaBand. In this agreement 60% of the publishing rights of these songs go to you. 10% goes to the Production team. The rest (30%) goes to SellaBand.

That seems crappy to me. So I raise $50,000 and SellABand decides who my producer, studio and mastering facility is? So the artist has no input into that? And no doubt they’re not paying them the full $30,000. ($30k is a shitload of recording and I assume they’re only going to refer you to studios and producers they have previous deals with.)

SellaBand owns the masters for 12 months so you’re not doing jack with it outside of SellaBand for a year. And then you’re tied to giving SellaBand and the production team 40% of your songs forever.

I dunno, I want $50,000 as much as the next guy, but it doesn’t seem worth it to me.

Posted on - March 30, 2007 [at] 7:59 pm by Brad
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13 Comments on this post

Magnus on SellaBand
March 31, 2007 at 5:03 am

No. The artists choose producer and studio themselves. For example, Clemence just sent ou this message: “What I have to be concentrated on right now is about the choice of the producer and the place of the realization : UK, United States, or maybe Sweden (because there are excellent producers in Sweden). It’s a tricky artistic choice but I’ll take the good one !
I’ll keep you informed as soon as my choice is made, in our common interest.”

bjrn on SellaBand
March 31, 2007 at 7:11 am

The terms say that Sellaband has the final say though, “SellaBand shall at its sole discretion, but after consult with the Artists appoint a studio, producer and A&R manager to the Artist”. Which means that they can, if they want, totally ignore the artist’s preferences. It wouldn’t surprise me if they have a talk with the artist and suggest a few producers that the artist can then pick from.

Eric on SellaBand
March 31, 2007 at 8:49 am

I can’t remember the link I will look for it – but there is a site out there that lets you set a goal, and then fundraise for it. No money is transferred until all the money is raised.

But what does SellaBand give you to help raise $50,000 that you can’t build yourself?

Future Boy on SellaBand
March 31, 2007 at 11:13 am

And do they only print enough CDs to give one to each person that donated?? WTF?

Roy on SellaBand
March 31, 2007 at 6:16 pm

There will only be 5000 copies of the Limited Edition CD for ‘Believers’ and 100 for the artist. The regular version of the CD will not be limited.

SellaBand needs to please both the artists and the Believers. If SellaBand were to limit the artist choices too much, then the artist would get upset and spread the word and other artists would walk away, which would be bad for SellaBand, so they won’t do that.

But what if the artist could ignore everyone else and decide to make a low budget recording with some friends for just $1000, so they can keep the remaining $29,000 for themselves. Now they have the money to make a professional recording and get a better share for themselves, because now they are funding it themselves. Their Believers would receive a low quality CD and be upset, because it turned out to be a scam by the artist. Word gets out and now Believers start walking away from SellaBand, because they would not be protecting the interests of the Believers.

That is why I want SellaBand to be able to intervene when something like that is about to happen. I think it is very unlikely that they would abuse that power, because it could cost them a lot and possibly ruin their company. That is not the case with the artist, because the artist would be selling a CD that is already recorded, so people can listen before they buy, and so unlike with SellaBand they don’t have to rely on trust.

If a site only provides a service that doesn’t transfer the money until all the money is raised, it might still work, but some people might not be willing to invest because no one is looking out for their interests. It might even attract con artists who smell an opportunity to make some easy money, which could ruin the reputation of the site.

Of course you can make all sorts of horrible assumptions and scenarios which are theoretically possible, but might just be very unlikely and even low risk, so it might not be such a good idea to base your decisions on such possibilities. So far I haven’t heard these complaints from any of the four artists that are currently recording with SellaBand. So I’d put more weight on those real-life experiences with SellaBand.

It seems to me like you are underestimating the effort SellaBand puts into this, like “I raise $50,000” instead of “SellaBand and the Believers help me raise $50,000”. The artists are not doing all the work by themselves here. It might be good if you look at it from the point of view of the other parties involved as well (the money/time they invest, the risks they run, the reward they could get).

I’m a Believer on SellaBand myself and all I can say is that it is definitely worth it to invest some time into getting to know how good this deal really is.

Brad on SellaBand
March 31, 2007 at 10:04 pm

Roy: Most artists are not known for their savvy business moves. I’d be more concerned about SellaBand paying, say, $9k of the money for recording (which would get an OK recording) and pocketing the additional $21k. Then they cut another deal with the manufacturing and pocket $15k out of the remaining $20k.

So they’ll have gotten $36k out of the $50k PLUS they get a year exclusive, 30% of the publishing and an additional 10% to toss to the producers to pay them back for the deal they got on recording.

I’m not saying what they’re doing is nothing. Individual artists would have a hard time getting 5,000 fans to their websites. So certainly Sellaband is providing a promotional service and is also responsible to the believers to make sure the artist delivers. But the cost in my (possibly paranoid and cynical) scenario is pretty steep.

Roy on SellaBand
April 1, 2007 at 5:32 pm

SellaBand doesn’t get anything from the $50k. And so an OK recording isn’t good enough for them, because they will be working it (sales/plays/downloads) to make a profit, of which they get a share, so they want the best recording $30k can buy. Which is in the interest of the artists and Believers as well.

So when SellaBand looks out for their own interests they immediately look out for the interests of the artist and the Believers as well. They all want to see a profit of which each will get a share. The artist probably wants to see where the money is going as well, so if they detect that some party is pocketing the money, they would get upset and get the word out and then artists and Believers would start walking away and the company wouldn’t survive that and all their time and money invested to get the company off the ground would be wasted. Artist may not be known for their savvy business moves, but I think they would understand that this would be a very stupid move, and thus conclude that it is very unlikely that they would try such a move.

The remaining $20k is not just for manufacturing, most of it goes to shipping the Limited Edition CDs to the Believers around the world.

I’m not sure what you mean when say that the cost is pretty steep? If you mean that not all artists will need $30k to record their album, that’s true. If you could make the album for $10k and $20k more would not make it any better, then it would be better for you if there were more customizable targets on SellaBand. But the current offer might still be better than the alternatives.

If instead you mean that the price you pay for the services they provide is rather high, then you could always try to get a better deal elsewhere, or try to do it all by yourself, if you think it is not much work and not that difficult to get the same results. But if that were the case, then why aren’t all these artists doing that already?

Mandyleigh on SellaBand
April 25, 2007 at 7:52 pm

Hi guys,
Well, I`m an artist on Sellaband, and we looked long and hard at it before deciding to join. Had to make sure it wasn’t some sort of scam of course. We found it wasn’t dodgy in any way, and in fact the people behind Sellaband have the best credentials you could ask for…. most of them worked at Sony Music Europe and Sony BMG, with all the top artists in the world, before they decided to quit and form Sellaband. I think one of them was quoted as saying he was sick of bringing out the next Justin Timberlake cd, and wanted to change the way music was heard, and cut out the middle-man (ie the record co’s).

There really is extremely little risk with Sellaband, from an artist or investors point of view.

For $10 (which can be moved or refunded at ANY time before the 50k target is reached), an investor can:
– receive a limited edition (numbered) cd of the professional release.
– get their share of the 50% cd profits from worldwide sales.
– get their share of 1/3 of the ad revenue from the Sellaband website, when some of their artists tracks are available for download.

Pretty good for 10 bucks right? Most cd’s in the world cost up to $30, and don’t offer any revenue back either. btw, the cd’s will be totally DRM free.

As for the artist:
– get to CHOOSE who they want to work with, when recording the cd (studio/producer/musicians/A&R). Being ex Sony, these guys have ALL the best contacts worldwide. Just check out the process Cubworld went through. He’s recording now. Hopefully have his cd out in June.
– can record whatever songs they like (no being forced in any one direction). Total creative freedom. Something that has rarely been seen since the 70’s.
– Receive 50% of the cd profits (worldwide sales). Sellaband WILL be selling the regular edition cd’s in physical stores and online, worldwide.
– receive 1/3 of the ad revenue.
– also receive royalties for every free download of a song from the website.
– Sellaband will be pushing the songs as much as possible, so they can get a return on the publishing side of things… of which the artist also gets 60%.

All in all, this sort of fairness to the artist and the investor is unprecedented. Do some research and see what artists like Courtney Love think of the music industry, where even artists like TLC at their height were earning $35,000 a year each… and had to declare themselves bankrupt. Toni Braxton – bankrupt. All is not rosy in the established music industry, which treats it’s artists worse than some Indonesian child-labour sweat-shop.

Sellaband is the future in my opinion. Music back in the hands of the people.

manawhetu on SellaBand
May 15, 2007 at 2:42 am

What I would like to know, is what happens to all the money that they are collecting before it reaches 50K? How much is sellaband racking it in on interest and investments with the hopeful artists so called money? Sounds like they’re making millions on the hopes and dreams of the artists. And what happens to the money if you don’t reach 50K? Does the artist ever see any of that? Or is it only once you reach 50K? Sounds like sellaband are the true winners hear.

lucretia on SellaBand
May 18, 2007 at 8:02 am

The money sits in an escrow account gathering interest and can’t be touched by Sellaband until the artist has raised their 50K. Obviously we don’t know what the interest rate is, but over the 9 months the site has been active, about $750,000 has been spent on Sellaband according to the last known figures. So if we assume $1 million after a year and an interest rate of 5%, then over a whole year that would only pay $50,000 in interest (and ONLY if all that money had been present on day 1). It should be easy to see that the salaries of the people involved, never mind the costs of running the business and all the business trips abroad are easily going to be more than this. So Sellaband are hardly “raking it in” at the moment.
You talk about “if an artist reaches 50K”. That doesn’t exactly apply. At the end of the day, it’s up to the artist how long they want to stay with Sellaband and try for that 50K. If they tell Sellaband they want to leave before the 50K is reached, then the money goes back into the accounts of the believers for them to either spend on other artists instead or withdraw. If the artist decides to stay for as long as it takes, then it’s in the hands of the believers as to what happens to the money. Believers can move money out of one artist and into another (or out of Sellaband completely) any time before that artist hits the 50K target.

T on SellaBand
May 25, 2009 at 12:16 pm

I wonder how many people who have added comments on this page are employeed by SellaBand?

j on SellaBand
November 15, 2010 at 6:24 pm

All of them

John Atkins on SellaBand
August 22, 2011 at 5:00 pm

lucretia isn’t one of their employees but is one of their main cock-suckers

anything to convince people to buy more parts I guess

Comments are closed on this post.