New Service Helps Musicians Pre-Fund Releases From Fans

from the useful-tool dept

Andrew Moffat from the site Musicslu writes in to let us know about its service, which is effectively a tool to let musicians get fans to "pre-fund" their releases. We've talked about such models in the past -- and it's similar to what Jill Sobule did last year. Other musicians have done it as well, but Musicslu tries to make it easier for artists. Basically, the band announces how much it needs to raise to release its album, and fans pledge money. No one actually pays until the full pledge number is hit -- and then once it's hit, the music is released for everyone totally free (covered by a Creative Commons license that encourages sharing). They've put up a YouTube video explaining how it works:
Again, this isn't an entirely new idea, but it's nice to see a tool that makes it easier for artists who don't want to go through the hassle of setting it all up themselves. I'm sure some folks will complain that this sort of model only encourages "free loaders," but that ignores the reality. The band gets to set exactly how much it needs to make from the album, and be guaranteed that amount. If there's freeloaders after that fact, so what? If the band really builds up a huge following, then the next time around it can set a higher price. Besides, the band can continue to make money by selling other scarcities.


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  1.  
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    Tgeigs, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 9:54am

    Nice

    Pretty cool, glad to see someone attempting to mainstream it. Site is blocked at work -- Damn Barracuda Networks :) -- so I have a question: is there a sample of music to whet the appetite? Otherwise, how will I know if I actually want the band to make the album, unless I'm geographically close enough to see them live?

     

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    Dan, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 9:58am

    Greg Stolze has been doing this with the expansion material for his RPG Reign.

    He calls it 'ransoming,' but it's the same exact idea.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 10:07am

    So they collect money from fans who would have actually paid for their music once it was produced, right? The free loaders wouldn't buy their music, nor will they fund the album.

    What has changed? Seems like less music will get produced either way.

     

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    C.T., Apr 10th, 2009 @ 10:14am

    Re:

    "What has changed?"

    The middleman (record companies) have been squeezed out.

     

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    Weird Harold, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 10:20am

    It's actually the funny part - what has changed? Nothing - just that instead of middleman record companies, we have middle man Musicslu - and you can be sure that sites like this won't do this for free for very long.

    It also fails to point out the most important part of the work done by record companies, which is to get the bands they have signed known and exposed. If the only way you get known is a couple of videos on youtube, good luck.

    In the end, any system that says "and then we give in to the pirates" is just another dead end.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Apr 10th, 2009 @ 10:28am

    Re:

    "What has changed?"

    I can't watch the video at work, but I guess at least 4 things from my understanding of the above and what's in the link:

    1) Artists record their albums without signing away all rights to a middleman (the RIAA).

    2) Fans get to participate directly in the making of the album.

    3) The band gets to keep more of the profits (there's nothing to stop the band accepting donations from happy fans, and no advance to pay back after the album's completed).

    4) Non-fans no longer face the threat of being sued out of existence when they try out the band's music before paying for it - all these albums would presumably be LEGAL on P2P.

    "Seems like less music will get produced either way."

    Less homogenous commercial crap maybe, but not less music. The only people deterred would be the karaoke singers and talentless hacks who are in the industry for the money, not the music. We could use less of those, I believe.

     

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    Mechwarrior, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 10:31am

    This is basically the same way classical music was created.

     

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    The infamous Joe, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 10:38am

    Re:

    If the only way you get known is a couple of videos on youtube, good luck.

    Yes, howard, if the only way you can get known is through streaming media (like the radio?) then good luck.

    I thought we had made so much progress the other day. *sigh*

    In the end, any system that says "and then we give in to the pirates" is just another dead end.

    change pirate to customer. Problem solved.

    As for what has changed? It's obvious. The artists are still in full control of their art, instead of signing it away to someone else. Sounds like a win to me, no?

     

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  9.  
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    SPAM, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 10:39am

    Re:

    [Negative Comment...]

    [Negative Spin!]

    [Negative Comment...]


    FYI! - The formula for perfect negative dialogue has been discovered! It goes like this:

    Something something Dark Side.

    Something something Complete.

     

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  10.  
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    Weird Harold, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 10:41am

    Re: Re:

    ...and the perfect dialog for useless posts has been made by you.

    Oh and silly rabbit, no follow tags make your links useless. Stupid child.

     

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  11.  
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    :Lobo Santo, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 10:41am

    Re: Re:

    If you feed trolls, they'll come back!

    WH, like all other problems, can be fixed with accurate application of explosives.

     

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    SteveD, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 10:42am

    Who pays for the service?

    I submitted this a week ago with the question; how does this site make money?

    Its a very slick offering, but a problem I suspect bands will face is that they'll have to self-finance the album before they get any money from this system.

    With traditional donation schemes you at least get a constant flow of cash up until the point at which you release, rather then it all at once on the point of release.

    That's the difference between being able to finance the recording with a part-time job and taking out a bank loan.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Apr 10th, 2009 @ 10:43am

    Re:

    Eventually, you may learn what's being talked about here instead of coming up with your own ideas of what's being said. You make at least one incorrect statement and a couple of unprovable assumptions, all wrapped up in opinion. Par for the course really.

    Anyway, Musicslu is providing a way to help bands get funded, but I believe do not provide capital themselves. Presumably (I have to assume as I haven't seen the contracts involved), this will mean more creative control, less risk and higher returns for the artists. The biggest problems with the major labels has been the contracts they get involved in and their inability to evolve, not the fact that a middleman exists to begin with.

    Also, unless I'm missing something above, the band would surely already have to have a fanbase before they start benefiting from the site? It's surely a way to connect fans and artists, not an advertising tool for the final product - they can always hire a manager/promoter as well if they wish. Not every band wants to be the Billboard #1 at any cost, most just want the ability to make a living from their music. The cost/benefit to signing up to the RIAA is increasingly imbalanced for most bands, and outlets like this allow them to exercise their freedom without having to sign such a deal.

    "If the only way you get known is a couple of videos on youtube, good luck"

    Luckily, there are thousands of other outlets for music. Even if not, the fact that the RIAA is apparently willing to force YouTube to block their music rather than cut a reasonable deal should give these independent artists an edge on that site either way.

     

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    SPAM, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 10:44am

    Re: Re: Re:

    (Hey look, I'm Weird Harold!)

    "My ad hominem makes me happy!
    It makes me feel complete,
    my ad hominem's all I've got
    'cause my logic is just sheet!"

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 10:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Harold was a mighty troll
    everyday posts
    flames and buttered toast

     

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    Tgeigs, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 10:52am

    Re: Re:

    Infringement alert!

    You now owe Seth MacFarlane and Fox an explanation...

     

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    PaulT (profile), Apr 10th, 2009 @ 10:56am

    Re: Who pays for the service?

    Nobody's forcing bands to use this site. It's never all or nothing. If this site works for bands, they'll use it. There's many other business models they can choose from instead, if they prefer.

    It does, however, add another option for bands who don't want to take an advance from the "traditional" record label, with all the restrictions that usually involves. That's the whole point of these posts, most of the time. It's yet another way for bands to produce their records and not suffer at the hands of either the RIAA or "piracy".

     

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    Overcast, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 11:03am

    It also fails to point out the most important part of the work done by record companies, which is to get the bands they have signed known and exposed. If the only way you get known is a couple of videos on youtube, good luck.

    Which Music company helped ol' Bach with his fame? :)

    There's more than one way to do things.. I think perhaps what's needed is some more new internet radio broadcasting new bands - that want to sell their own music, instead of signing a contract with a company that's going to take 97.5%. Now get those internet radio stations available on XM - and we'll be talking some serious cool-ness.

    Just because the old model worked - doesn't mean it's still viable in the future. Sure a horse and buggy or a '74 Dodge can get you around, but it doesn't mean it's the most efficient means of transportation.

    Maybe there will always be some 'middle man' - but the artist - like any other producer will do much better to find a cheaper middle man, that doesn't make them sign away most of the rights to THEIR intellectual property.

    It's really time for the recording industry to make some serious changes and be a leader in the new digital music market or wait for the train to pass them and take a back seat.

    Just because various contracts say that 'such and such' music is "Intellectual Property" of Sony or whoever, doesn't really MEAN their 'intellect' had a thing to do with it.

    I think the big music industry is just worried that the artists won't need such a high priced puppet master holding their strings.

    And yeah - I'm quite fond of a few bands I found on the internet, some are quite independent. Actually; just found another one on a forum yesterday who gave me a link to his 'work in progress'.

    And yes - you know, some of those YouTube Videos get exposure on the News - that will beat a local radio station anyday.

    Very cool.

     

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  19.  
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    Weird Harold, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 11:07am

    Re: Re:

    I love when you get off on stuff like this, because you only make yourself look ignorant.

    Yes, howard, if the only way you can get known is through streaming media (like the radio?) then good luck.

    Radio is pre-filtered. As a consumer, you are exposed to a certain number of new acts plus existing acts in your niche, and that list moves over time. Rather than attempting to play one song from every crappy garage band in america, the record companies have done the leg work of filtering off the useless and the talentless, and left you will a reasonably large selection of acts that are acceptable to most people.

    youtube has 50 million music videos, and you can add one more without a filter and get really, really well know. yeah, right.

    change pirate to customer. Problem solved.

    I don't think it works - you are assuming that the pirate is a pirate only to protest the current system. The true reality is most of them just want free music, and don't give a crap about anything else. Even when offered up with a way to pay for music under reasonable terms, they will pretty much all in the end go back to takings, not giving.

    An entire generation has been taught by piracy that music has no cost and little or no value anymore. This new service might help a few acts get the money to make records, but those records will just end up all over the internet for free and nobody is really further ahead (except for whatever cut the service took to do the transactions).

     

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  20.  
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    Debunked, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 11:08am

    Questions

    It is nice to see ongoing experiments in the evolving marketplace.

    1. Why is this focused on CD album release when the market and many who counsel the market (Lefsetz amoung others) say release singles because the CD album is dead?

    2. Why the ideological insistence on Creative Commons rather than let each artist/group decide for themselves between regular copyright or Creative Commons? Shouldn't the platform be neutral?

     

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  21.  
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    Ben (profile), Apr 10th, 2009 @ 11:11am

    and then what happens?

    What happens if the pledges aren't honored? The band needs $8k; $8k gets pledged. $7k actually gets donated. What happens then? The band should not be obligated to do the release they said they'd do for $8k, and the users who paid have _paid_; who has their money? Can they get it back?

    I can certainly understand that if the band doesn't produce they will get blackballed, but a few "anonymous" fans could really hurt the process.

    As for where musicslu might make money, I can see a number of (non-evil) ways:

    1. advertising

    2. as the "holder" of the intermediate money -- while the pledges are coming in they need to be held somewhere, and that money can accrue interest (not much individually, but if there are enough pools...)

    3. as the agent for the money transfer. PayPal gets 3-6%, I'm sure musicslu might be able to make a better deal.

    -or-
    4. No need -- they're insane fans.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 11:13am

    Re: Re: Who pays for the service?

    True enough, but of the two bands that have singed up so far, it seems that one of them is expecting to get donations as they get pledged to help 'speed up the release of the album'. Unless I've misunderstood how this works they don't get anything until they're ready to release.

    And I still can't figure out how the site itself makes money. Is it ad-funded?

     

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  23.  
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    PaulT (profile), Apr 10th, 2009 @ 11:21am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "youtube has 50 million music videos, and you can add one more without a filter and get really, really well know. yeah, right."

    That's why YouTube doesn't work in a vacuum.

    For example, people watch the band live and embed a video in the post about the gig in their blogs, or send the link via Twitter. People following the blogger/tweeter check out the band. if they like it, they're more likely to listen to the music, then more likely to spend some money on CDs/merch/gigs.

    There's no direct control, which is why the RIAA hate this stuff, but you're making the same mistake you always seem to make - the assumption that the only way to succeed with these models is to put music out there and pray. That's a long way from the truth, at least for someone with any imagination.

    There's many other ways in which YouTube gets used, but that a way to reach a large audience without having to go through the corporate filters you seem to love so much. Quality does not mean having to be ready for ClearChannel.

     

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    Weird Harold, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 11:24am

    Re: Questions

    it would make you think that there will be some Musicslu CDs coming out soon, compliations, whatever. You may have spotted the hole in the process.

     

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  25.  
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    Travis, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 11:30am

    Re: Re:

    "Eventually, you may learn what's being talked about here instead of coming up with your own ideas of what's being said."

    Don't count on it

     

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    Just Another Moron in a Hurry, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 11:39am

    Correction

    There has been a change in how musicslu works since this video was released.

    Fans -do- have to pay up front. They purchase a package of credits, which they can then spend on various artists. This was done to prevent people from making a pledge and then just not paying.

    Presumably, the money is kept in an account somewhere by musicslu, until the record is released. Musicslu probably keeps the interest earned between the time the credits are purchased and the time the record is released to maintain their own site. Thats just speculation on my part though.

     

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    Ryan, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 11:41am

    Re: Re: Re:

    youtube has 50 million music videos, and you can add one more without a filter and get really, really well know. yeah, right.

    So why have so many thousands of movies gotten so much exposure simply because they were good or notable or interesting? Chocolate Rain hit it big and it was just some weird dude with a low voice. Boom Goes The Dynamite, the drugged up kid, etc. etc. Movies made by nobodies have hit it big over and over and over again because they had some quality that convinced people to rate it well, recommend to friends, get posted to popular websites, even make the general news. It's already happened thousands of times, dumbass.

    I don't think it works - you are assuming that the pirate is a pirate only to protest the current system. The true reality is most of them just want free music, and don't give a crap about anything else. Even when offered up with a way to pay for music under reasonable terms, they will pretty much all in the end go back to takings, not giving.

    An entire generation has been taught by piracy that music has no cost and little or no value anymore. This new service might help a few acts get the money to make records, but those records will just end up all over the internet for free and nobody is really further ahead (except for whatever cut the service took to do the transactions).


    Did you read this post at all? The money was given them upfront...even granting your assertion that nobody will pay...the only albums produced already got paid for! And now they've gotten a bunch of fans and exposure and can leverage that to make their money in ways other than requiring a fee for every song copy consumed, which only discourages exposure. And nobody gives a damn about pirates, what does that have to do with anything? Money paid upfront, album released for free...where do pirates come in?

     

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    The infamous Joe, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 11:59am

    Re: Re: Re:

    the record companies have done the leg work of filtering off the useless and the talentless, and left you will a reasonably large selection of acts that are acceptable to most people.

    Although many would debate you on the filtering off of talentless (in fact, quite of opposite) the real question is who are *they* to decide what **I** will like? That system worked fine *before* the internet became commonplace, but not anymore. There's no reason to 'filter' at all. Which leads nicely to...

    youtube has 50 million music videos, and you can add one more without a filter and get really, really well know. yeah, right.

    If your music is good, it will get rated up, as it gets rated up and recommended by your friends, it will grow in exposure. Soon, if you're any good, your one video is top 10 for the week. It's *exactly* how it should work.

    I don't think it works - you are assuming that the pirate is a pirate only to protest the current system. The true reality is most of them just want free music, and don't give a crap about anything else.

    No, you are stuck in the trap of assuming everyone is a criminal. The piracy market exists only because the customers found the other parts of the market unacceptable, so they went someone else. Sure, some people won't pay for anything-- but the *smart* business person would ignore these people and focus on gathering the people who *will* pay once the market meets their needs.

    Even when offered up with a way to pay for music under reasonable terms, they will pretty much all in the end go back to takings, not giving.

    When has that happened? I don't know any system currently or previously available that fits that description. However, it may well be that the time of selling digital music outright has past. I would argue that the recording industry killed that chance when they killed Napster and drove file sharing underground.

    An entire generation has been taught by piracy that music has no cost and little or no value anymore.

    Making digital copies of digital music *has* no cost. So they have been taught not to just accept everything shoved down their throats, and I'm more than pleased.

    This new service might help a few acts get the money to make records, but those records will just end up all over the internet for free and nobody is really further ahead (except for whatever cut the service took to do the transactions).

    That is the point!!! The *FANS* donate to make the album. It's MEANT to be spread. That way, their next album, they will have more people to donate!! How do you not get this?? Musicians sell MUSIC. They do not sell RECORDINGS. That era is *over*.

     

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    chris (profile), Apr 10th, 2009 @ 12:56pm

    Re: and then what happens?

    What happens if the pledges aren't honored? The band needs $8k; $8k gets pledged. $7k actually gets donated. What happens then? The band should not be obligated to do the release they said they'd do for $8k, and the users who paid have _paid_; who has their money? Can they get it back?

    the video doesn't say, but i would imagine there is a system for determining who is good for it, and who is not. perhaps if you have paid out in the past, then your pledges count when you pledge them. if you are new to the system, perhaps your pledges don't count, yet.

    also there is a time limit, so i would imagine that prevents the "WTF is this charge?" problem that is bound to come up when the site collects a year after you pledged and have since forgotten.

     

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    Weird Harold, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 3:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Making digital copies of digital music *has* no cost. So they have been taught not to just accept everything shoved down their throats, and I'm more than pleased.

    You miss the point - they think music has no value period - no dollar cost, no true value, if your song isn't here they will just download something else for free. Asking mooches to pay for music to be made is like asking a 14 year old to clean their room. They aren't going to do it willingly.

    The creative commons license in this deal is a real killer, I suspect there is something hiding behind door number 2 that is going to screw a ton of artists over.

     

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    The infamous Joe, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 4:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You miss the point - they think music has no value period - no dollar cost, no true value, if your song isn't here they will just download something else for free.

    You consistently have a problem with cost vs value, and I'm beginning to believe it's on purpose.

    If music really had no value to people, it would not be downloaded/uploaded at all. That's not up for dispute. It's fact. They want it, they just don't want it at the price it is being offered at.

    The creative commons license won't screw any artists over enlightened enough to use this service in the first place, so don't worry your little head about that.

     

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    Weird Harold, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 8:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Cost and value are like an elastic band - when one moves too far, it pulls the other one with it.

    You quoted me and didn't even read it - when the value of music is gone, then people will download whatever. Any value is implied only because something is better than an empty ipod, but certainly not worth paying anything for. The true value of a song is measured only against silence. That is as close to zero as you can get and still see the difference, so I will concede you that point. So, let's correct my comment:

    You miss the point - they think music has effectively no value - no dollar cost, no true value, if your song isn't here they will just download something else for free, and someone will always make more so who cares about this song?

    There, does that make you feel better?

     

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  33.  
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    PaulT (profile), Apr 11th, 2009 @ 10:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "You quoted me and didn't even read it - when the value of music is gone, then people will download whatever."

    According to you, the problem is that people are already doing just that...

    Anyway, you repeat the mistake that Joe was talking about. The value of music will NEVER be zero. It had value before anyone had conceived of charging for it, and it will continue to have value if everyone stops paying for recordings. The only thing that's being changed is that people are less willing to pay purely for a copy of the recording itself. A downloaded data file simply doesn't have the same cost as a physical object, but that has no bearing on its value. This does not mean that money cannot be made.

    "Any value is implied only because something is better than an empty ipod, but certainly not worth paying anything for."

    I disagree. An iPod pre-loaded with the complete back catalogues of Britney Spears and Barry Manilow would have the same value (or possibly less) than an empty iPod to me. To someone else, it would have greater value.

    The only issue is how to turn that value into income. You keep arguing against ways to do just that, but never provide any constructive alternative other than the patently unfair, artistically bankrupt and horrendously inefficient RIAA model.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2009 @ 9:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So... You're saying that something has value just because it has cost. That's the end result of your analogy. You could put a $10,000 price tag on a beaten and rusted Yugo, and it still won't be worth that much. You make the same mistake some of these whiny, shitty, mainstream artists make: over valuing the product. YOU don't set the value. The CUSTOMER sets the value. If you can't deal with that (which you've proved time and again that you can't), then there is no way you'll ever understand.

    On the other hand, you dismiss the customers that DO pay for things. NOW they're paying for an album to be produced. The people that don't value the music, or are unable to afford it (you miss those, too, don't you?) can still have access to it. But only if the people who do value it, and can pay for it, pay for it.

     

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    Luci, Apr 11th, 2009 @ 9:19pm

    Re: Re:

    Oh, the artist can put up samples to listen to. There are currently three albums signed up, and the one that had samples sounds /really/ good.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2009 @ 8:36am

    Let's take this idea and migrate it over to "Movieclu" and "Softwareclu". I need $100M to create a true "blockbuster" I need $XXM to create the next great application for (pick a use).

    Sign me up. I would like a new Photoshop, CS5. Come on Adobe, get with the program and accept my pledge of $10. I am sure that if thousands of others having a similar need/desire make pledges, a great CS5 application will emerge about the time that Acobe would have otherwise independently released CS9.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2009 @ 10:46am

    Re:

    Looks like those domains have already been purchased.... O_O

     

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    Willton, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 12:31am

    Re: Re: Who pays for the service?

    Nobody's forcing bands to use this site. It's never all or nothing. If this site works for bands, they'll use it. There's many other business models they can choose from instead, if they prefer.

    It does, however, add another option for bands who don't want to take an advance from the "traditional" record label, with all the restrictions that usually involves. That's the whole point of these posts, most of the time. It's yet another way for bands to produce their records and not suffer at the hands of either the RIAA or "piracy".


    That still does not answer the question of who pays for the service.

    Musicslu can't be just "another option." Musicslu only makes sense to a band if it is a better option than the traditional record contract. This means that it must offer a better return to the band members. The reason the RIAA model has become the norm is because it has been the most rewarding to artists that sign on; otherwise they would have moved on a long time ago. Musicslu needs to be better than that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    nasch, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 12:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    there is no way you'll ever understand.

    I think I'm done replying to WH, because this is the conclusion I've reached. He will not get it, ever.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    nasch, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 12:56pm

    Re: Re: and then what happens?

    Yeah, I wouldn't see that being a big problem. They can make you provide a credit card when you pledge, and check to see if your pledge would clear. Not many people are going to cancel a credit card to avoid making good on their pledge I would think. You may have a few who are fine when they pledge and then later use some of their credit and are pushed over their credit limit, but I would think that would be a small problem too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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