Last month, this column mentioned Sellaband.com, a site that enables fans or “believers” as they’re called, to donate towards an artist’s album recording fund and share in the potential profits. Sellaband scored a huge coup last week when rap hall of famers Public Enemy chose the site to raise money for their forthcoming album.
Chuck D, Flava Flav and co. are hoping to raise $250,000, the site’s most ambitious funding project yet at sellaband.com/publicenemy. PE have always been at the forefront of championing net music technology. They were one of the first groups to release MP3s from their own website and have advocated artist-owned releases for a decade or so.
“Believers” are able to buy single $25 shares and each share entitles them to: a numbered copy of the album, an early download version and 33% of the net revenue for the first five years divided amongst them.
“SellaBand’s financial engine model goes about restructuring the music business in reverse,” said Chuck D. “It starts with fans first, then the artists create from there. The music business is built on searching for fans and this is a brand new way for acts to create a new album with fans first, already on board.”
In the week since the project began, Public Enemy have raised $30,700, 12% of the total target. The money will go towards the complete recording costs and a strategic marketing plan for the release in 2010.
According to industry newsletter Record of the Day, Sellaband has 34 artists who have reached their $50,000 target since the site started in 2006. Thanks to their enduring popularity with hip-hop fans, Public Enemy are confident they will reach their target.
These ideas don’t always work out though. Spare a thought for Texan rockers White Denim who recently tried a similar fan-assisted scheme. They set up a subscription service promising fans regular exclusive releases but had to cancel the idea when the money raised didn’t cover the manufacturing of vinyls they initially promised.