Music Labels Adapt to Life Online

This likely isn’t the first time you’ve heard of the concept of encouraging fans to buy into their favourite up-and-coming band in order to help them make an album. And at the rate that new music label websites are springing up on the web, it won’t be the last.

Whether you fancy yourself a stock broker, venture capitalist, talent scout or just an ardent fan, the idea of ‘crowdfunding’ is probably something that appeals to you. The idea not only gives fans a great way to support their favourite new artists, but it gives those artists a chance at recording an album and making it into the limelight. For many it seems it should be a win-win situation, but despite that the sceptics are still doubtful about the ability of this method of sourcing to discover great new talents. Yet it seems during the course of the past two years some bands are already enjoying minimal success. Band ‘The Like’ has already made its first three albums via the Internet – and that means massive popularity since the funds to make all three would have had to come solely from donations made by fans.

Sellaband was one of the first of these web-based recording opportunities to be established on the net. Their plan is simple and yet brilliant: Fans invest in stocks in their favourite artists, paying about $10 for a stock. When $50 000 has been raised for a particular band, the band will get studio time and their first album. The fans will get an exclusive CD in return for their undying support, while the band will be introduced to an artist and repertoire consultant, a producer and a recording studio – all the things they need to make their dreams happen. The fact that the funding comes from fans shows how popular a group already is, at the same time removing the often insurmountable burden of raising these enormous funds from aspiring artists.

It’s now two years since Sellaband was launched and they are looking to break even for the first time. They have signed up 25 artists and have released 17 fan-funded albums thus far. The talent discovered is diverse and crosses country boundaries and music styles. The goal of promoting and producing underexposed or unnoticed bands has certainly been realised. An even older website known as ArtistShare has been giving fans the opportunity to help their favourite bands since 2003. Slicethepie is yet another such website that has been operating since 2007. As long as the concept continues to be successful even more of these websites should spring up in the future – and with more than 10 million artists having already built up fan networks on Slicethepie in the short time its been running, it would seem that online music development is the way to go.