Public Enemy Not Selling Well Enough On Sellaband: What Went Wrong?

from the connect-with-fans,-give-them-a-reason-to-buy dept

There have been a bunch of companies popping up lately that have allowed bands to help "pre-finance" an album, by getting fans to commit to pay up in exchange for some sort of added benefit. We've covered in great detail how Jill Sobule successfully used just such a method (on her own, not with a startup) to finance her last album. Earlier this year, though, the concept got a lot of attention when the group Public Enemy signed up with the company SellABand to try to raise $250,000 by the end of the year to finance its latest album. While we were impressed by such a well-known act trying such a system, we did note when it was announced that the "benefit" given by the group didn't really seem that compelling. The pricing seemed quite high for what people were getting, and there was little effort to actually "connect with fans." It was really just a very high-priced way of getting people to fund the next album.

So it doesn't come as much of a surprise that Public Enemy is struggling to reach its goal. It has raised over $70,000, which is nothing to complain about, but that's well short of the $250,000 goal.

There are definitely some important lessons to be learned from this. These sorts of models require a lot more than just putting it out there and expecting fans to automatically support you, no matter how big an act you might be. Jill Sobule worked really hard to cultivate and connect with her committed fanbase, and that's what helped her hit her goal. Public Enemy didn't seem to put much effort into that at all. Second, pricing really does matter. In giving people a "reason to buy" something, that doesn't mean you just slap a price on stuff. The price needs to be reasonable and make sense to people. Public Enemy's offerings just seemed pricey all around, even to fans of the group. At $100 you got a CD and a chance to buy a second CD at 50%, along with your name in a booklet? Eh. What's so exciting about that. At $250 they add in a t-shirt? That's $150 just for a t-shirt? You had to go all the way up to $500 before they would even autograph the CD. Sure, $1,000 for a 3 year unlimited backstage pass could be cool if you were going to see the band a lot, but that was the first offering that really seemed potentially worth the money for a serious fan.

So, I think there are some important lessons here. We've mainly focused on pulling lessons from the success stories, but the lessons from failures can be just as valuable. And, in this case, it goes back to our standard formula of Connect with Fans (CwF) and give them a Reason to Buy (RtB). Unfortunately, it doesn't look like Public Enemy really did much of either. They just expected the fans to come to them, and they priced everything too high, without giving really compelling lower end options. Because of that, they certainly got some people to pay up -- and, again, raising $70,000 is nothing to put down -- but it fell well short of the goal. In some ways, what they did is like a cargo cult: copying all the superficial aspects of what worked before, but not the really important stuff.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    BigKeithO, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 10:00am

    Plus They Suck!

    It's Public Enemy... Does anyone even care about them anymore? You couldn't pay me to listen to a new Public Enemy CD.

     

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    The Anti-Mike, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 10:06am

    I think it proves a few things:

    a) there is an uppper limit on everything, even limited edition t-shirts (shocker!).

    b) As business models go, this isn't the easiest one to replicate

    c) Much depends on the wealth of your fanbase

    Now before anyone goes off and tries to throw the racist card, hear me out.

    Who is Jill Sobule's audience? I would say a more mature (35 and over) easy listening crowd, younger mommies and daddies, the cocktail hour crowd from the big office towers. White collar worker bees, disposable income types.

    Public Enemy? Well... let's just say their target audience is younger, less affluent, less likely to have $150 to throw at a t-shirt or whatever. Younger buyer do have disposible income, but not typically the multiple thousands that made up much of Jill Sobule's "sales".

    For me, it is a reminder of why the existing music industry business model was very effective for such a long time. It required people only to part with a very few dollars to get a great product, and to pay that money as they got the product, not on speculation of the record that may or may not ever get made. Getting $10 out of most people's pockets is easy, getting $1000 is difficult.

    At $100 a CD (ignoring t-shirt sales), public enemy could only get 700 people to spit up the cash. At $10 a copy for the CD, they likely would sell 100,000 plus copies. Which business model again is working?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 10:12am

    Re:

    So, if I have this right, you're saying that black people are cheap and Public Enemy would have had much more success if they performed white music. I do believe you're correct. Good show. Although I don't know about that last bit, as the current recording business model isn't working all too well. Sales are flat. No one is buying shiny plastic discs.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 10:20am

    Re:

    Without the weirdness, I think you were spot on for the great majority of that comment. It boils down to knowing your fans and what they're capable of.

     

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    moore850, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 10:22am

    Sellaband is a scam

    I tried out sellaband as an artist, and I got a deluge of feedback from jaded users that sellaband is a "pretend" site and you can't actually make any money there no matter what you do, nor should you expect to. It's like "Second life" for wannabe musicians was what people told me when I showed them my plan. They told me to run away and not waste my time with it, which I gladly did because the rest of the feedback I got was clearly a bunch of jealous wannabe's wanting to bash any good idea that came along as a threat to the money they "should be earning any day now" (but curiously they never earn it).

    Maybe my music's no good and that was my only problem, but if Public Enemy can't make money there, something's seriously wrong with sellaband's entire premise and motives.

     

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    Bob Vila, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 10:32am

    Re: Plus They Suck!

    I think they had good album in the 80's or 90's and Flavor Flav had crazy eyes and giant clock around his neck. Don't know why that doesn't compel people to donate(since that's what it boils down to, a donation) $100 for a new album.

     

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    Alan Gerow (profile), Dec 17th, 2009 @ 10:33am

    Re:

    "At $100 a CD (ignoring t-shirt sales), public enemy could only get 700 people to spit up the cash. At $10 a copy for the CD, they likely would sell 100,000 plus copies. Which business model again is working?"

    So, they should have had a $10 tier and they could have gotten 100,000 to sign up, gotten a lot closer to their goal. The problem is their pricing tiers, not the overall business model.

     

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    Alan Gerow (profile), Dec 17th, 2009 @ 10:35am

    Re: Sellaband is a scam

    "but if Public Enemy can't make money there, something's seriously wrong with sellaband's entire premise and motives"

    Or Public Enemy's implementation of the idea and toolset. SellABand is a TOOL, the band actually needs to use it to sell themselves ... not sign up and wait for the money to roll in. That's the entitlement problem that has gotten much of the recording industry into the trouble it's in now.

     

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    Lucretious, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 10:35am

    While PE is a seminal Gangsta-rap act I think they are confusing fan and industry respect with their overall relevancy in music nowadays. Also, it's hard to say this without sounding like stereotyping but I think its worth mentioning that many of PE's fan base are lower income urban minorities who demand more value for what they spend. $100 is just too big of a hit for that demographic. Hell, it's too big of a hit for most middle/working class folks in general. Maybe the members of PE are well off financially and feel $100 is pocket change in their world.

    I think $20 would have been a sweet spot. They could have made the autographed copies the $100 option (signing 250 CD's isn't exactly hard work).

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 17th, 2009 @ 10:36am

    Re:

    a) there is an uppper limit on everything, even limited edition t-shirts (shocker!).

    This needed to be proven?

    b) As business models go, this isn't the easiest one to replicate

    Disagree. If you know what you're doing, it's not that hard to do. At least it's no harder than selling a traditional album. I'd argue it's much easier... if you do it right.

    c) Much depends on the wealth of your fanbase

    I doubt that.

    Who is Jill Sobule's audience? I would say a more mature (35 and over) easy listening crowd, younger mommies and daddies, the cocktail hour crowd from the big office towers. White collar worker bees, disposable income types.

    Perhaps.


    Public Enemy? Well... let's just say their target audience is younger, less affluent, less likely to have $150 to throw at a t-shirt or whatever. Younger buyer do have disposible income, but not typically the multiple thousands that made up much of Jill Sobule's "sales".


    Really? PE was big way before Jill Sobule (and much bigger than she ever was). I would imagine their fanbase stretches into the older demographic as well -- and many are quite affluent.

    For me, it is a reminder of why the existing music industry business model was very effective for such a long time. It required people only to part with a very few dollars to get a great product, and to pay that money as they got the product, not on speculation of the record that may or may not ever get made. Getting $10 out of most people's pockets is easy, getting $1000 is difficult.

    You are confusing two separate things here. We agree entirely that $10 is easier to get than $1000. But, of course, no one has said the business model is selling $1000 things. In fact, in the post above we made that exact point. The band should have offered a lot more value (a reason to buy) at lower prices.

    I'm glad you are finally coming around to our reasoning, even as you declare yourself against it.


    At $100 a CD (ignoring t-shirt sales), public enemy could only get 700 people to spit up the cash. At $10 a copy for the CD, they likely would sell 100,000 plus copies. Which business model again is working?


    Sure, selling CDs (a scarce good) remains a decent business model. But it's a declining business. There are much better scarcities to sell. But we've never argued against selling CDs. Not sure where you got that from.

    But, basically, in the end you seem to be agreeing with us entirely. The business model is to sell reasonably priced goods to those who will buy them. The problem with this *execution* was that they didn't provide something reasonable to buy at a reasonable price.

    But the others who are doing well with the model (and there are lots of them) are offering reasonable starting prices, which is where they sell most of their product.

    I'm glad you've finally come around.

     

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  11.  
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    The Anti-Mike, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 10:49am

    Re: Re:

    Mike, nice try, but I am not agreeing with you.

    The business model is to sell reasonably priced goods to those who will buy them.

    Selling the CDs after they are made is the traditional business. This model requires "fans" to basically give up their money NOW, for a CD maybe in the future. Those who put their money into the 70k pot might be very disappointed if the CD isn't made. Then what becomes of the money?

    Fans want to buy music, not the promise of maybe some music later. I would be like Ford saying "we are going to build a water powered car, give us $50,000 today, and we will sell you one maybe in 20 years if we actually make it. It's a poor value proposition. Asking people to pay up front for something they might get always smells a little like a scam to me.

    Really? PE was big way before Jill Sobule (and much bigger than she ever was). I would imagine their fanbase stretches into the older demographic as well -- and many are quite affluent.

    That is actually the problem of PE. They got their fans in the day based on a very strident message, and that message is lost on the fans as they get older. Those still holding true to the message are likely not going to integrate well into the white collar follow the rules world. Tell me the last time you heard PE as music on hold in the corporate world.

    The last PE show I saw the audiece was almost entirely under 25.

    Jill Sobule? Well, her music isn't exactly going to to raise any wild street protests, her audience isn't in a mosh pit, they would rather sit comfortably in a soft seater and enjoy her sweet dulcet sounds. Her audiences gets older but the music is not lost on them. Remember, you did the writeup yourself, the vast majority of the money she got to make the record came from a very few wealthy patrons. She didn't have to flog too hard to individual fans to cough up cash.

    It's hard to compare, except to say that the business model that works (somewhat) for Jill Sobule isn't a business model that applies to all types of music and all types of fan bases. Asking people to pay up front for a product they MIGHT receive just isn't a model that can apply to a wide commercial audience. After all, by your own admissions, the music is free, and most people will just wait for the music to be on a torrent site and get it for free, why pay anything?

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 10:56am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The mental gymnastics you perform to make your points are impressive. But still a logical failure.

     

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    The Anti-Mike, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 10:58am

    Re:

    Even at $20, you are asking people to pre-order something that won't come around for probably a year. That is a very, very tough sell. $20 for a CD later, or $20 for a couple of hot new vibes from Rihanna and Lil Wayne... it's not a tough choice for most people to make.

    I just don't think the pre-pay sort of system is going to make it work out, most people aren't prone to parting with their money for nothing.

     

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    Johnny Canada, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 11:04am

    I might be wrong but ...

    I thought the way bands made albums (without recording deals)was

    1- play local bars/clubs (save money)

    2- go on tour (using money from playing local bars for up front costs)

    3- take money made from the tour and record your music.

    4- take profits from first album to finance your tour

    5- take profit from tour (and what is left from first album) to pay for second album.

    Yes I am aware of day to day expenses to live (food) but the band members gets paid a salary.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 17th, 2009 @ 11:06am

    Re: Re:

    I just don't think the pre-pay sort of system is going to make it work out, most people aren't prone to parting with their money for nothing.

    Funny, given just how many success stories we hear about every day using just that business model.

     

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    ObjectiveR (profile), Dec 17th, 2009 @ 11:46am

    Maybe a factor is that the goal of raising $250,000 for a record wasn't that enticing. It's not like you're helping a struggling artist raise $50k for a record. $250k is a pretty healthy budget. Hard to rally the troops, in conjunction with crazy prices, for a target that certainly has more than some fluff in it.

     

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  17.  
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    jjmsan (profile), Dec 17th, 2009 @ 11:51am

    Re: Re:

    So those real estate people selling pre construction condo's to be built in a parking lot are out of luck?
    So sad.

     

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  18.  
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    The Anti-Mike, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 12:03pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    First, I wish you would document more "success stories", because for the most part you point at a very few artists over and over again, proving that there exceptions but so far few rules.

    I could picture this approach happening (and has happened for a long time) where 20 of your friends each give you $50 so you can rent a portable recorder and bang out your music. It is something that has happened for a very long time (back to the very beginnings of recording music, I suspect).

    I can picture certain artists being able to pull this off because of a long, trusting user base that is willing to take the risk (See Jill Sobule).

    I don't see many other very successful applications, unless of course we are using the Masnick "the band made enough money for a 6 pack of the good beer instead of a bottle of 2 buck chuck" system of success measurement.

     

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  19.  
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    The Anti-Mike, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 12:06pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You of course know that pre-construction selling is done on a contractual basis, and still plenty of people get screwed every year, losing their deposits.

    You also know that people don't usually pre-pay their condo, they pay a very small percentage (often only a few thousand) just to get their commitment on paper so that financial can be secured for construction? You know that they can't legally offer without controlling the site, having appropriate zoning and planning permission for the building they are trying to sell? You know that they are registered companies and that in some places, the money has to be placed in trust rather than in general accounts?

    Nahh, you know that, your justing being a doink.

     

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  20.  
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    chris (profile), Dec 17th, 2009 @ 12:18pm

    Re: Re:

    The problem is their pricing tiers, not the overall business model.

    the problem is probably their pricing tiers, and probably not the overall business model.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 12:24pm

    I think they lost their connection with fans when Flavor Flav started doing all those stupid reality shows.

     

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  22.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 17th, 2009 @ 12:28pm

    Re: I might be wrong but ...

    "3- take money made from the tour and record your music."

    Simple thing to do is build your own studio

    Mixing software

    Multi chanel mixing software


    Basically For the cost of a USB mixing board, a good studio Mic, and some acoustic board you have a studio ....

    289 note/entry) wiki, video's, and written courses on building a music studio

    290 note/entry) Studio (pro, home built, etc) access / advertising area on the sites. Fee's, Localtion, times available, ratings from artists and producers (clients)

     

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  23.  
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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Dec 17th, 2009 @ 12:38pm

    Re:

    I think they lost their connection with fans when Flavor Flav started doing all those stupid reality shows.

    wha wha whaaat???

    you mean, if no one likes a band people wont buy their stuff regardless of how well thought out or horribly thought out the marketing is?

    wait.. my theory doesnt account for nickleback...

     

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  24.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Dec 17th, 2009 @ 12:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    While I don't necessarily agree with everything you're saying, though I do agree with some of it, I have to applaud this new relatively accomadating tone of yours. You actually are starting to sound like you're acknowledging a middle ground might exist somewhere, at least for some artists.

    Pardon me if that sounded patronizing, I'm just truly surprised....

     

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    chris (profile), Dec 17th, 2009 @ 12:49pm

    Re: Re:

    So, if I have this right, you're saying that black people are cheap and Public Enemy would have had much more success if they performed white music.

    there is also the fact that PE's music can get fairly political and preachy at times, and at other times downright insulting to people (both black and white) outside of the nation of islam. the current commercial hiphop scene probably doesn't have room for PE. their stuff was cool in the 80's and 90's, maybe not so much nowadays.

    i would speculate that the internet marketing for this project probably doesn't reach many disaffected youth like the record stores of old did.

    it could be that PE just doesn't have a good grasp of their surviving fan base on the internet.

     

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  26.  
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    triobug, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 12:50pm

    This thread doesn't have enough "Yeeeaah Boooooooyeee"

    Fla-vor Flave!

     

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  27.  
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    Nina Paley (profile), Dec 17th, 2009 @ 1:00pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Asking people to pay up front for a product they MIGHT receive just isn't a model that can apply to a wide commercial audience.

    Actually I agree with you, Anti-Mike. Lots of Free Culture models work, but "fund-and-release" doesn't sit well with me. I don't think Jill Sobule used fund-and-release either; I think she was planning to make her album regardless, and came up with a nice incentive structure for funding.

    In addition to what Mike wrote about setting reasonable prices and offering real value, I also think donations should fund artists regardless of whether the "target amount" is reached. Fund-and-release commodifies creative work too much. It expects artists to withhold their creative process unless they're paid first. That's not what real artists do; it's what manufacturers do.

     

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    Lucretious, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 1:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I don't see many other very successful applications, unless of course we are using the Masnick "the band made enough money for a 6 pack of the good beer instead of a bottle of 2 buck chuck" system of success measurement.


    Your point reminds me that another reason for PE's ridiculous price structure might be is that PE came up in the day of more traditional (read; lucrative) music distribution/contracts. That kind of money rarely happens nowadays unless you really hit big. I beleive older acts who want to remain relevant need to re-think of what is deemed "successful" in terms of cash. Hint: it certainly won't be as high as it was in the days when the labels had 100% control.

     

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    Lucretious, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 1:05pm

    Re:

    *takes down his wall clock and chains it around his neck*

     

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  30.  
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    Richard (profile), Dec 17th, 2009 @ 2:30pm

    Who "owns" the album

    It looks to me like one essential ingredient is missing from this deal.
    The people who put up the 250000 should end up owning a share in the music. From my reading of the story that's not the case here - they're just pre-ordering a CD (if anyone knows different from this please tell me).

    If a record label put up the 250K the deal would assign the copyright to them.. Why do PE expect the public to sign up for a worse deal than a record company would?

    You know "he who pays the piper" and all that.

     

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    Richard (profile), Dec 17th, 2009 @ 2:38pm

    Re: Who "owns" the album

    OK - I'll answer myself her - yes I got that wrong - the subscribers do get a share of the revenue...

    Still that's an important issue that other commenters seem to be ignoring.

    I think the problem is that you require the fans to have a different mindset to make this work - and maybe getting such a large fanbase to put up such a large sum is not a good place to start.

    Stephen King tried the same thing with a novel a few years back and it didn't work out.

    I suspect the problem here is that it isn't just the record labels living in the past - the public are too - and it will take a while for everyone to adjust to the new reality.

     

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    The Anti-Mike, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 2:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I just never agree with the idea that there is one good model, or that a method that works for one will work for anyone else. There are all sorts of one offs all the way though musical history, bands like the Greatful Dead, Phish, even oddities like the Zambonis pull a certain following and can get away with all sorts of odd models.

    The widely disliked (by napster types) Metallica use to allow people to buy special tickets where they could set up recording gear to bootleg the concerts and spread them to friends.

    Things have been going on for years, and things will always be evolving. Once you stop looking at the temporary false concepts (such as piracy) and work on actual business models, you see that is all ends up back in the same place, just with different names on the hats people wear, and the money going in this door and out that door instead of the other way around.

    There are exceptional cases that come around, but the do not make an industry or create a whole new easy to follow business model.

     

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    dorp, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 4:16pm

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

    I just never agree with the idea that there is one good model, or that a method that works for one will work for anyone else.

    You just agreed with Mike again. wth is going on here?

     

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  34.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 17th, 2009 @ 5:02pm

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

    I just never agree with the idea that there is one good model, or that a method that works for one will work for anyone else

    Exactly. That's the point we've been making all along. Yet, oddly, you seem to attack us when we make that point, and keep saying that everyone should just focus on selling music. So odd.

    I guess it's good that you've finally come around to agreeing with us.

     

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  35.  
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    The Anti-Mike, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 5:52pm

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

    It's funny that you guys say that, because I feel even more opposed to what you stand for.

    That's the point we've been making all along. Yet, oddly, you seem to attack us when we make that point, and keep saying that everyone should just focus on selling music.

    Of course they should focus on selling music. Music is what the people want, not t-shirts or the lastest piece of crap merch. The will ignore the crap merch, they won't wear the shirt, but they will enjoy your music over and over again.

    There are EXEPTIONAL cases where bands can do things in other than the mainstream way, but most of those are lucky accidents and odd circumstances that come together to create a perfect storm, something that may never happen again.

    Most of the bands thinking they can give music away until they are rich are going to get it half right, they will give away music. Most of them will never even make it past the 2 buck chuck level of income.

    Yet, sitting right next to them is the classical musical ladder. They have been brainwashed into hating the music business and ignore that ladder, yet it has many more proven successes than any of the stuff pushed on this website. Heck, most of the proven successes discussed here are products of the ladder.

    The road mapped out here mostly is a dead end, where a band, if really lucky, becomes a relatively popular regional act with no simple way to break out beyond their local area, no support for them to build past a certain point, which in the end limits their ability to really move up. I assume if that is what they are aiming for, they may be happy to reach that level, it all depends on your goals.

    So far, in a couple of years of this place, I have seen little that can be replicated reliably, except for the "give away your product for free". Most people seem to be able to do that, and all it is doing is creating a huge background noise of crap music that risks drowning out the good stuff.

     

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  36.  
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    The Anti-Mike, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 8:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Actually, it's a good comment overall on the state of the music business, another one of the issues Mike rarely wants to address.

    With the widening of the talent pool (more acts putting out music and attempting to have internet careers), and with the music industry (example UK or Sweden) being flat over the last 8 to 10 years (net consumer spending on recordings and live), there comes a point where each individual artist is making less. The same amount of money spread over more people means less per person.

    It gets to be an even more signficant issue when you realize the spread from the bottom to the top on concert tickets is getting bigger. Bon Jovi in London is $400 plus ticket (200 pounds), yet the average bar band is maybe collecting 1 pound per head, if they are lucky. There are more high price festival tickets, but the average act on the bill (outside of the headliners) are often performing for very little if any payout at all.

    So the consumers are spending, the rich are getting richer, and nobody seems to want to admit that the lower end artists don't appear to be making more money. Yes, more artists are making 2 buck chuck money, but out of the (not growing) pie in the UK, how much is actually getting paid out to artists at the bottom? How many are now making a good living as artists that use to be making money only working straight jobs instead?

    Successful in theory should be enough to afford to exclusively be an artist, afford the house, the car, the 2.2 kids, the cat, the dog, and reasonable retirement off the back side. Success isn't scraping by day by day, making just enough to barely pay the rent and eating baloney on hand to keep things reasonable. In the real world, we might call that poverty, why would it be a success in music?

     

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  37.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 17th, 2009 @ 11:39pm

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

    Of course they should focus on selling music.

    If they can. What if no one pays for music? Then what? What if more acts are successfully making money by giving away their music (as is happening now)? Why would you advise someone to try to sell something that everyone else is giving away?

    Music is what the people want, not t-shirts or the lastest piece of crap merch. The will ignore the crap merch, they won't wear the shirt

    If that's the case, then they should not try to sell t-shirts or crap merch, because that's not a reason to buy. We don't advocate selling crap merch. We advocate selling stuff people will actually buy.

    These days, it's NOT MUSIC. I mean, I don't quite understand how you can keep claiming this when the data itself is entirely clear: people are not spending much on music these days, but they are spending a LOT more on everything around music.

    Most of the bands thinking they can give music away until they are rich are going to get it half right, they will give away music. Most of them will never even make it past the 2 buck chuck level of income.

    Sure, if they think the entire business model is "give away the music." But we've been quite clear that this is not the business model we advocate.

    I'm honestly confused by you. You keep insisting that the business model we advocate is give stuff away for free and sell crap. But that's never been what we said. So you seem to be debating a really weak strawman. And you've been doing it for like a year now. Why?

    So far, in a couple of years of this place, I have seen little that can be replicated reliably, except for the "give away your product for free". Most people seem to be able to do that, and all it is doing is creating a huge background noise of crap music that risks drowning out the good stuff.

    Then you simply haven't been paying much attention. Odd, considering the amount of time you spend here. Luckily, many others HAVE been paying attention, and we've been helping more and more artists. In the end, you can insist things won't work as long as you want. We've seen it work. Reliably. And that's the fun part.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    steve, Dec 18th, 2009 @ 1:42am

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

    Actually, it's a good comment overall on the state of the music business, another one of the issues Mike rarely wants to address.

    I agree. Music in general just sucks these days, PE included. How else can you explain Girl Talk?

    Successful in theory should be enough to afford to exclusively be an artist, afford the house, the car, the 2.2 kids, the cat, the dog, and reasonable retirement off the back side. Success isn't scraping by day by day, making just enough to barely pay the rent and eating baloney on hand to keep things reasonable. In the real world, we might call that poverty, why would it be a success in music?

    In what pre-internet fantasy world could a working artist expect to get all that crap? Not everyone on the radio ends up on MTV Cribs...

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Michael, Dec 18th, 2009 @ 3:52am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You really missed what Jill Sobule did, so I would suggest re-reading everything about her project. She did not do a fund and release project like Public Enemy just tried. Her offerings were compelling on their own and then she actually SOLD them by getting involved (connect with fans) on a personal level with a lot of people. That is the point here - the technology available today has made it possible to connect with lots of people - far more than ever before - on a personal level.

    Yes, in the past a $10 CD that was sitting on a shelf was a compelling product. The business model problem right now is that this is no longer a compelling product. It does not work with what people want. Think of it like this. If 10 years ago all you could buy from a record store is 8-track tapes. Now this is 10 years ago, so there are not really any 8-track players. Everyone is using CD players. So, you have to buy a device to transfer the 8-track music onto a CD and blank CD's. Would you be happy to find aa place that gives away CD's? Would you be even happier if the artist sold them away and (perhaps) signed them?

    The CD selling business model is in trouble because it is no longer a media that anyone wants anything on. People have turned to the digital alternatives because it works with their MP3 players. And great news! There are places where you can get that music for free! However, give fans a reason to buy that comes with a t-shirt (that isn't $150) and they will be at your door. Too many of these business model "experiments" are working for that not to be the case.

     

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  40.  
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    nasch (profile), Dec 18th, 2009 @ 8:22am

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

    there comes a point where each individual artist is making less.

    I think you mean the average income per artist is lower, which is not the same thing, and may or may not be true. A few artists (the ones who used to make millions and millions) are making less, and a lot are making more (the ones who used to actually spend money to make their music and are now breaking even or better).

    Successful in theory should be enough to afford to...

    I think we should leave that to the artists. To some, success is affording that second Bentley. Good luck to them. To others, success is having enough money to buy new instruments. To others it's being able to quit the day job. And to others, success is simply having their music heard and enjoyed. We don't need to define success for them.

     

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  41.  
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    Eric, Dec 18th, 2009 @ 9:48am

    Agreeing w/ Anti-Mike.. but

    I agree w/ anti-mike on quite a few things.. like paying ahead of time for a CD is stupid. But I also think buying a e-book reader is stupid and yet tons of people have bought them. I think spiffy rims on a car is a waste of money and yet tons of people buy them and put them on their car.

    I don't think that Anti-Mike gets that, that just because he thinks it's a stupid idea.. there aren't stupid people out there who LOVE the idea.. or gets the fact that Mike ever said the ONLY way to make money in the music industry is to give away your music and sell nick-naks.

    From the time I've been reading this blog, probably over a year, I've only seen Mike put forth idea's on making money for artists. He's only said.. "if you don't want to go the traditional route, you might want to try these things.." Mike has never said this was the ONLY way to do it.

    I think Mike was wrong when he responded to Anti-Mike thusly:
    "c) Much depends on the wealth of your fan base

    I doubt that."

    Because it DOES depend on the wealth of your fan base.. because if you have a wealthier fan base you can possibly price your offerings higher. I think Mike was saying that he doubts you can't do this form of business model depending upon the wealth of your fan base.. which I agree with... you just have to price your offerings appropriately.. which PE surely did NOT.

    Again, I think Jill Sobules idea is stupid and I would NEVER buy something like that.. but MY likes and dislikes don't matter.. getting other people WHO would buy it and like it does matter. I think that is the hardest thing in business, to put aside your personal feelings and go with what the data tells you.. no matter how wrong or stupid you think that data is. People bought Pet Rocks.. nuff said.

     

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  42.  
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    Netvalar, Dec 18th, 2009 @ 9:49am

    Re: Sellaband is a scam

    The site Sellaband along with other sites like Slice the pie and Bandstocks are not set-up for someone to make money. They are set up for music lovers to finance a music based project.

    There has now been 40 artists who have successfully had their albums funded through Sellaband, couple through Bandstocks, and I have no numbers for Slice The Pie. Back to Sellaband Cubworld has just this last week funded his 2nd album through Sellaband becoming the 1st artist to use the site twice.

    With that small amount of success I definitely have to disagree with it being a scam. Now unlike other funding platforms SAB, STP, and bandstocks offer revenue share of album sales. I am sure most people reading this know what album sales are like in todays world. So yes the communities involved in these things get a bit "Jaded". Mainly as they aren't taking into account the album the bought or any other incentives when looking at "ROI". (That is a whole other subject altogether)

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    Pieps, Dec 18th, 2009 @ 9:56am

    a world of shit

    I think that PE and Sellaband are a good couple ... both of them don't have a future .

    HAVE FUN !!! yours Pieps

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    Netvalar, Dec 18th, 2009 @ 9:59am

    Re: Re: Who "owns" the album

    Yes the fans get a 33% share which is one of the lowest on the site of Sellaband. The average revenue share is 50% with one of the recent artists who reached their goal (20k) also adding in publishing revenue share.

    However as of this year artists are free to set up any format they want including getting rid of revenue share altogether.

     

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  45.  
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    Netvalar, Dec 18th, 2009 @ 10:03am

    Re: a world of shit

    Now why did I know your name would be on this list Pieps?? It was great seeing you in a target reach chat (they should still be called 50k chats).

    I won't even bother to point out that I disagree with you though on the future thing.

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    Pieps, Dec 18th, 2009 @ 12:37pm

    Re: Re: a world of shit

    @ Netvalar . Hi Luke ,

    I think that in the beginning it is ; a semantic problem . Artists are talking about " their dream" to make a CD ... but "dreams" are the things happening in your head when you are sleeping , this ain't a dream , but a self-absorbing wish .
    Second ; these "indipendent Artists" are totaly depending on the charity of the Believers ... I think it would give more clarity to name them chanceless-Artists - no offend , but I think that that's the situation as it is -
    Than there is this "investment and return of investment" thingy ... ehm ; in the real world it's called burning money :P . So far , none of the 30+ Sellaband CD's did sell well ... also the few GOOD CD's didn't sell . But still ... all these "independent" Artists are trying to convince Believers to "invest" in their "dream" . ( read : But still all these chanceless Artists are trying to convince Believers to burn money for their self absorbing wishes )

    And than PE comes in . I don't think that any record company would dare to invest 250K in the next Public Enemy CD , so I think that we can categorise PE also as independent/chanceless Artist .
    And the same BULL starts again ; 'bout dreams and fans , and sharing revenues ... so far the revenues on SAB are a few cents for every $10 invested ... and 30% of nothing is as much as 90% of nothing :P .

    Further , Sellaband as a company never kept any promise ... hardly managed to get any exposure , and drove a lot of Believers away by autistic behavior . There have been incidents with credit card fraud , a web site where you could log-in to ANY (!!!) profile , a hacked user database followed by a SPAM wave ... pfew , these guys are outdoing Murphy in any way :P . O , and the Website is still buggy .

    On a personal level ; I think that everybody who is daring to make music , and to share that music , deserves some kinda support . And when Sellaband Artists think that "making that Sellaband CD " will make them happy ... please , be happy !!! :-) But don't ask me to tell the world that it is all "wonderful and marvelous" ... The last Sellaband CD I heard ; the piano wasn't tuned properly , and the goddamn thing kept on banging the whole CD :P .

    Myself I see Sellaband is an on-line absurdistic role play . Specialy the BIG ANOUNCEMENTS have always been hilarious :D :D :D .

    It's a free world :-) , there are also people that Believe that the earth is flat ... and the sun turning 'round it ... so there must be also place for Public Enemy and Sellaband .

    HAVE FUN !!! yours Pieps

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    Burgos, Dec 18th, 2009 @ 1:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Well then, it seems that the only thing missing here is the contract. When an artist says, "give me money so I can make an album", the contributor must be able to expect an album delivered by the artist within a reasonable amount of time. Otherwise, like a real estate developer, the artist defaults his or her earnings back to the contributors or face punishment.

    So there might still be a way of improving this particular model. And nobody ever said this model was perfect. Doink.

     

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  48.  
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    Rich, Dec 18th, 2009 @ 2:45pm

    Public Enemy

    No one will read this, since no one reads comments past the first page anyway...

    1) From other commenters - Public Enemy is not now nor ever gangster rap. yes, they were millitant, but it was political millitancy.

    2) The short article paints PE as somewhat clueless about this whole net thing. They've been releasing online for many years now, being one of the first relatively big groups to step to an Internet label, the (now defunct) Atomic Pop. The reason they left Def Jam? They wanted to release a remix album online when their label said no. They left Def Jam and the first single off of their 'There's a Poison Going on' was a free download, a choice of either mp3 or mp4 video. They did the whole 'give me a reason for a physical CD' with a download only at $8 and CD with autograph at $10 (Aside, when atomic pop folded, they sold the album for $17 at Virgin).

    To be honest,i'm surprised they got 70000. They've been out of the public eye except for Flav's reality shows and some CHuck D interviews. Never recovered the sound when the Bomb Squad broke up. And hip-hop is much less flexible now, and a lot fewer people resonate with their music. What is an angry Chuck D with Obama, Rice, and Powell?

    So, maybe they realize that a $2 bump on a CD can't hold a label, and are pushing the limit. Don't assume they're clueless.

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 18th, 2009 @ 3:32pm

    I agree with Rich as PE is far from clueless. PE was doing the MP3 thing well before a majority of people even knew what an MP3 was. They actually saw the technology coming back in 1993-1994 and talked about it on their "Mess Age" album. Their "Poison" album was the first album ever released in MP3 format and they have done various other things ahead of the curve as well.

    I'm not sure what Chuck's exact motiation for using Sellaband was but he has always looked for altenative ways for artists to make their music and Sellaband is another example.

    Oh yeah...and PE isn't gangsta rap and a lot of PE's fans have been and still are white. Plus Chuck D is more in tune with his fans than almost every music artist out there. I've actually seen a lot of false things said about PE throughout all these messages. PE may not be relevant in the mainstream any longer, but they still put out good music and rock each show on each of their tours.

     

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  50.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 20th, 2009 @ 9:14pm

    Re: Public Enemy

    The short article paints PE as somewhat clueless about this whole net thing.

    That was certainly not my intention. I've certainly written about things that Chuck D has done before, and how he went up against Lars from Metallica when they disagreed over Napster (Chuck D called it "the new radio"). I don't think they're clueless at all. I just don't think they did a very good job with this particular project, and could have done much more.

     

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  51.  
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    The Legendary Frank (profile), Dec 26th, 2009 @ 11:16am

    Re: I might be wrong but ...

    That might work in North America but over in the United Kingdom bands rarely get paid for gigs in local venues.

    So using your business mode no unsigned band over here is going to make it.

    I reserve judgement on Sellaband until I see how things pan out.

    However I've done a little research and noticed that many if not most bands treat their "believers" like shit.

    They rarely keep them informed about what is going on and often take over a year before they even get into a studio to record their cd.

    Sellaband is great if you want to throw away $10 as a bit of fun ti help your fav band but it's not for serious investors. The return on investment is laughable and the band would have to sell huge amounts of cds for investors to get any reasonable return.

    Also how many bands are just using Sellaband as c cheap way of promoting themselves?

     

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  52.  
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    The Legendary Frank (profile), Dec 26th, 2009 @ 11:40am

    Re: Re: Sellaband is a scam

    If you do the maths the revenue that believers get is pathetic. And it's usually only on cd sales and not tours or merch and it's only for a fixed time.

    Like I said if people want to throw away $10 for fun on a band you like then great. They'll get the cd when eventually the band decide to record it and that's about it.

    I think that's the only way this model will work. Two thousand or more people making small contributions that they know they will never get a return on.

    The band don't have to worry about making money on the cd as all or most of the costs will have been paid by the believers.

    Also it's a great way for bands to use believers' money to promote themselves in advance of their next album which may be produced by a label.

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    Jason Fuller, Dec 26th, 2009 @ 6:03pm

    Let's give credit where credit is due

    Hi everyone.

    >>Jill Sobule worked really hard to cultivate and connect with her committed fanbase, and that's what helped her hit her goal. Public Enemy didn't seem to put much effort into that at all.>>

    Just to clarify this point about Jill Sobule. Jill "borrowed" her entire schema from ArtistShare which has successfully been hosting fan-funded projects since 2003! It is almost embarrassing how she copied ArtistShare and took credit for it. The people who really know how to do this are the folks at ArtistShare. Look at this blog entry and then at an one of the many ArtistShare projects successfully funded before she had her great idea and let's stop touting Jill as some kind of visionary.


    http://voices.allthingsd.com/20070905/calling-all-recording-gurus-ive-got-nothing-to -prove-but-i-still-need-your-help-see-my-video/

    read the comments and then look at this

    http://www.artistshare.com/home/participate.aspx?artistId=1&projectID=141

    Pretty disgraceful that she took all of the credit for that




    http://www.artistshare.com

     

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  54.  
    identicon
    Timo Poijärvi, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 5:19am

    Public Enemy Not Selling Well...

    This was a very important lesson to all of us. The basic model is right on spot BUT the incentives were all wrong. There should've been $10 or $25 alternatives AND the band should've been more active about this. It was 80's and 90's when a band like them could've just sit and wait for the fans to get together...not anymore.

     

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