Dubious Record Label Insists It Has A 'Patent-Pending' Method To Guarantee A Platinum Selling Album

from the there's-this-bridge-in-brooklyn... dept

Do you remember Zer01? Two years ago, there was all sorts of buzz around this "mobile VoIP" company that was mostly deflated after a few articles dug into the company, its product and its plan, and questioned whether there was anything real there, or if it was an elaborate multi-level marketing scam designed to part people from their money without delivering any product. The company's one big accolade, a "Best of Show" award from Laptop Magazine, was rescinded after the details and questions came out suggesting that Zer01 was a pure vaporware company that may have been cashing in on getting multi-level marketers to pay upfront for a product that was never going to be delivered. Despite "true believers" stopping by our comments on some of those posts to insist that Zer01 was real and was going to make them rich, in the end it went nowhere, with the website disappearing and Zer01 losing a $43 million lawsuit to its "multi-level marketing" partner, Global Verge. Of course, it didn't help that Zer01's lawyers dropped the company after Zer01's boastful CEO Ben Piilani, who blamed everyone else for the company's troubles, "stopped replying to contact" from his lawyers.

So, it was with interest that I learned (from our own Derek Kerton, who helped expose Zer01 along with reporter Nancy Gohring) that Piilani is apparently back in business, with a new company in a totally different space claiming to have created a patent-pending method to guarantee a new album goes platinum. The label, with the horrible name, 5iveSe7en Records (he just loves mixing words and numbers, apparently) makes some pretty out there claims, just like with Zer01:
We have devised a patent pending method and process that will allow us to guarantee platinum recording status to every artist we sign, all while leveraging the power of the Internet and subsequently revitalizing the music industry back into something worth-while, meaningful, and exciting to both the artist and the consumers alike.

5iveSe7en Records will extrapolate the full power of our patent pending methods by leverage the power of the Internet by using readily available proven tools such as social based member networks in the music niche, along with social gaming and digital content distribution to create value amongst music enthusiast and artist alike.

5iveSe7en discovers and gives commercial viability to thousands of underground artists who these days populate the playlists of music enthusiasts. Many start-ups have tried but failed to address this market. Thatís where we come in.

5iveSe7en will turn the record industry on its head. Each month we launch a new artist/group that will go "Platinum" out of the gate. Our method has been vetted by the RIAA. Think of us as "American Idol" meets "Facebook."
Of course, if you look at the company's website (I won't link to it from here, as it doesn't deserve the link bump), it looks like the site hasn't been updated since the beginning of 2010, which seems like a long time for a company supposedly releasing a new platinum recording every month (vetted by the RIAA!). Also... none of the links on the website appear to work. I tried clicking on the details of its business model, its list of albums and current releases... and it all took me right back to the front page.

The original link to a company "profile" has some more details. It kicks off with a fantasy-land version of what's happening in the music industry (apparently, since people are downloading music, less music is being made, and now the charts are dominated by crap). Then it explains that they'll magically build a "million-plus audience" of people who will pay in advance to receive 12 digital albums per year -- which the RIAA insists will count towards platinum status. Of course, the plan is basically that a bunch of bands supposedly pay the label to be one of 300 bands that might get included that month, and then people vote (the "American Idol" part) as to which band wins. The "winner" gets a "recording contract," the release through this system which goes to the subscribers, and a promise of a big fancy launch party. The company already claims to have partnered with Sony Music, Universal Music and EMI (poor Warner Music, left in the cold, I guess).

Of course, all of this requires those million-plus subscribers. Each of whom have to be willing to pay $9.99 per year for 12 albums which they might not even like.

Have no fear, Piilani has figured that out too:
We understand that getting anyone to purchase something not only is a barrier to entry for the consumer, but also affects our dynamic growth potential. In example, FaceBook and Twitter have no problems gaining consumer traction because they give away the memberships. If they charged fifty cents they would not have experienced the growth that they have had, let alone $9.99 like we are attempting to do. So in order to address this we have decided to seek investors to purchase our first 1 million subscribers so that we can give the memberships away. In addition by having our first million subscribers acquired by our investors, we will be able to guarantee Platinum Recording status from the very start. This will also give us a large enough membership base that will appeal to future sponsors and advertisers. We continue this business model by finding corporate sponsors to continue to purchase subscribers from us that they can give away during their own promotions along with the fact that they will gain brand concentration with our membership base and advertising. Eventually we will have enough critical mass that consumers will pay the $9.99 to participate.
Yes, you read that correctly. The plan is that investors will pay for the subscriptions, followed by advertisers, rather than users.

I have to admit that the idea is just ridiculous enough to be brilliant. Of course, the devil's in the details, and some of the details look pretty questionable for any artists. Obviously, they're not making much in royalties from that "platinum selling" record, since each album is technically being "sold" for less than $1. Of course, in exchange for widespread publicity, that's probably worth it. However, the published business plan also suggests that any artists that sign up with the company are also handing over lifetime management rights:
We own the management contract for the artist, so after we create a Platinum Recording Artist we can solicit them to be acquired by larger labels and we will receive 15% of all the artistís future income.
What artists agree to let the record label that signs them also manage them? That seems like a major conflict of interest. Also, they downplay the fact that artists have to pay to "enter" for the chance to be "signed" to this label. In fact, the details there aren't mentioned at all, other than in the middle of a long list of "revenue streams" for the company. How many bands are willing to pay for a 1 in 300 chance to maybe get sent to a bunch of people?

The plan also highlights the "qualified management team led by our CEO, Ben Piilani," whose bio mentions that a technology he worked on "won Best of Show at CTIA in 2009." Curious that he doesn't name Zer01 as the company... and appears to totally omit the fact that the "Best of Show" award was rescinded a few months later by Laptop Magazine who clearly regretted the award and stated: "At this time we can only urge extreme caution to those interested in using or selling Zer01's service."

I think we'd argue the same thing for anyone looking to invest in 5iveSe7en Records.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 9:28am

    Here is a simpler way to do this. Spend a weekend writing up an app for uTorrent then post it for free. Build a single voting server that the app accesses and let any band or artist signup for free in the uTorrent app. The more bands that sign up the longer the contest. Have week long votes on the best video track, audio track, artist, etc. In the end you have promoted the winning bands to uTorrents 100 million plus users.

    With a wave of fingers over a keyboard, I banish this mans foolish idea to the already obsolete bin.

     

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

  2.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 9:40am

    Re:

    Actually, it's quite sensible...if you're from Hollywoodland.

    I can sort of see the point if I squint: that the advertisers buy the sub, get free download of the album, which is then counted as a digital sale, and seeing as 1m in sales =platinum...

     

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

  3.  
    icon
    Joe Publius (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 9:41am

    Re:

    With a wave of fingers over a keyboard, I banish this mans foolish idea to the already obsolete bin.

    If his idea sounded anything less than some kind of con, you would be completely right.

    Instead you went one step further and created a novel promotion model.This is way better. I wonder what the RtB would look like with this obvious CwF?

     

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

  4.  
    identicon
    Jake, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 9:42am

    He might do better with hot sausages inna bun.

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 9:45am

    So, every time there is a Platinum Album, its because someone used their patented method, and must, of course, pay some damage compensation. nice.

     

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

  6.  
    icon
    charliebrown (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 9:55am

    It's a start

    I think I could take the basics of this idea (which are not copyrightable - you can't copyright an idea) tweak it to remove some of the dodgy crap so that recording artists get a better deal, and execute it myself. It's entirely possible to do.

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    DogBreath, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 9:57am

    Ben Piilani's new business plan reminds me of a phrase from the 1988 movie "They Live"

    From "They Live": "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick a**, and I am all out of bubblegum."

    Ben would say: "I have come here to chew bubblegum and to part fools from their money, and I am all out of bubblegum."

    Nice try Ben... but no cigar, and no soup for you!

     

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

  8.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 10:02am

    Re: Re:

    Large scale promotion and the back catalogs are the only thing the record labels have left to them. Given a year and access to facebooks API, uTorrent apps, and twitter it should be possible to out do the labels in the promotion arena-area.

    Some great thing about an uTorrent app to do the american idol contest thing. It is zero distribution cost to push content. One or two people can run an entire record label, think the efficiencies of craigslist brought to the record labels. It also doesn't require Simon.

    The RtB (reason to buy would) be the same as it is with any artist or band, to support them, get rare or limited edition stuff, convenience, the concert experience, hanging out with friends and doing things, etc.

     

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

  9.  
    icon
    Kaden (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 10:02am

    Soooo... on the consumer side it's a record club, and on the artist side it's indentured labour.

    With a conman as head of A&R.

    Seems like they just invented the 1966 recording industry.

     

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

  10.  
    icon
    Trails (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 10:05am

    Re:

    Only if he cuts his own throat.

     

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

  11.  
    icon
    Trails (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 10:06am

    Re: Re:

    Ad supported music?!?! Why hasn't anyone else thought of this?


    Oh, wait...

     

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

  12.  
    icon
    Joseph Kranak (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 10:09am

    How do you lure the artists

    If you can't get any musicians to sign up, then no investors are going to front you the cash, no advertisers are going to want to advertise with you and no subscribers are going to want to subscribe. So, what reason do artists have to sign on to this clearly rotten deal? They'll make little money off of it and lose a lot of lifetime earnings. The only benefit would be the promotion, but that would only be worth something if you had a lot of subscribers or a lot of hits to your website. But you don't. So, again, what makes musicians want to sign up for this?

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    hank, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 10:09am

    5-7

    could be someone figured out that V and VII chords figure prominently in hit songs. I have noticed over the last 20 years I IV VII(flat) have been the base for "hooky" tunes, like "lets get this party started" kind of hits

     

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

  14.  
    icon
    Joe Publius (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 10:11am

    Re: Re:

    On a scale from 1 (low) to 10 (high), how evil would I be if I just laughed at that post?

    hypothetically speaking of course, I would never do that.

     

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

  15.  
    icon
    Marcus Carab (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 10:13am

    Re: Re: Re:

    It depends on whether you know where the joke comes from. If you do, 1. If you don't, and were just laughing at the thought of his throat being slit... 4-ish I guess?

     

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

  16.  
    icon
    Joe Publius (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 10:14am

    Re: 5-7

    Patent it Hank, and watch the money roll in. Then again someone likely has "Method of Popular Music Creation Using A Three Chord Combination" already registered.

     

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

  17.  
    icon
    Marcus Carab (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 10:19am

    Re: 5-7

    I think you are giving this guy way too much credit...

     

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

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 10:20am

    "Dubious Record Label Insists It Has A 'Patent-Pending' Method To Guarantee A Platinum Selling Album"

    So, they found a way to lower the standards for what is considered a "Platinum Selling Album"?

     

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

  19.  
    icon
    Joe Publius (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 10:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Originally it was just the sheer ghoulishness of the comment, now it has achieved a greater, more meaningful sense of depth.

    Summer is my reading season, might have to check 'em out.

     

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

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 10:35am

    and now the charts are dominated by crap

    Well, at least they got SOMETHING right.

     

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

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 10:36am

    Just the title alone sounds as if a "Bilski" rejection is just around the corner.

    The word "guarantee" is puffery likely to come back and bite the company, which is located in Las Vegas.

    Sounds almost like a variation in the advertising world of a Patent Marketing Company in the inventor world.

    I have to wonder about a company that is a wholly owned subsidiary of a parent corporation located in the Ukraine. See: http://utg-inc.net/ and run it through Whois.

     

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

  22.  
    icon
    LegitTroll (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 12:01pm

    Perhaps this guy should meet the other Five-Seven I know.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FN_Five-seven

    Or perhaps he himself is fan of them. The coincidence was a bit to much for me.

     

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

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 12:28pm

    Re:

    *clicks funny button*

    That's what immediately came into my mind reading this - Columbia Record Club, 12 discs for a penny each to start, yadda yadda.

    The indentured servitude is only new in combination with the above.

     

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

  24.  
    identicon
    taoareyou, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 12:33pm

    How?

    Suppose 4 "investors" buy up the first million subscriptions. So right out of the gate, the first album they release is going to be considered an instant "platinum" album because 4 suckers paid some money to some upstart company? Really? That's not a million record sales. That's not a million subscribers.

    I think this would be considered a joke by any artists who actually sold a million albums.

     

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

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 12:43pm

    It'll probably fizzle out when no one wants to invest money in it. C'mon, would YOU give your money to someone who uses that many buzzwords?

     

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

  26.  
    icon
    Trails (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 12:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Discworld novels are great. My first was Small Gods, which is a bit outside the normal flow of Discworld and fairly self-contained.

     

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

  27.  
    icon
    Rikuo (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 3:00pm

    So, basically this guy is trying to patent a business strategy? I didn't know you could do that. I thought patenting was for inventions and stuff. So, what if I patent "Method of transaction involving a seller and a buyer exchanging goods/services for legal tender"?

     

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

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 4:27pm

    Re:

    You'd think there's lots of prior art for that, but...

     

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

  29.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 8:09pm

    Re:

    Sure, but if your business plan is to get some investors on board and then have the company fail while keeping the money, it doesn't take many investors to make a profit.

     

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

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 9:13pm

    Investment Scam

    It's an investment scam, people. He takes in the $10M from the investors (if there are any that stupid). Then he fiddles about attempting to do what he says he is going to do, but meanwhile he is looting the company as hard as he can go with fees and lavish salaries. Then it all goes bad, he blames somebody else, then closes the company. He walks away with a few million. Rinse, repeat.

     

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

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 9:45pm

    It sounds like a HBGary pitch to the US government. It would have worked too, the gov would have bought in! How come now it doesn't?!

     

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

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 11:57pm

    ViveSeten? SiveSeten? Is Piilani really that bad at leet-speak?

     

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

  33.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 11:59pm

    Re:

    I blame an anonymous group.

     

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

  34.  
    icon
    WysiWyg (profile), Jun 9th, 2011 @ 3:02am

    Reminds me of something...

    This reminds me a bit of "Gaming Factory X" (or whatever their name was), you know the company that was going to buy up TPB. Only in reverse. In GFX plan everyone was going to get paid, even the downloaders, without anyone paying.

    In this case, everyone is paying, but no one (or rather only one) gets paid.

     

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

  35.  
    identicon
    Shaun, Jun 9th, 2011 @ 5:02am

    I could see this working

    It seems to have a lot of elements of what's already happening on the web and bringing them together. Platform for artists, social network for users, free music (for the first million subscribers). Seems like a bit more integrated MySpace.

    Where I can't see this working is getting to the critical mass necessary for it to take off. Getting a million users might sound small compared to the likes of Facebook and Myspace but it would take a lot of advertising etc.

    Also, the obvious that this guy seems to have a history of raising capital and not delivering.

    Not a bad idea, like they said, it's an online X Factor but don't think I'd invest.

     

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

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Capitalist, Jun 9th, 2011 @ 7:16am

    I'm going to be rich!

    1. Patent "A Method For Separating Idiots From Their Money On The Internet."

    2. Hire lawyers.

    3. profit!!!!

     

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

  37.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Jun 9th, 2011 @ 9:50am

    Re:

    Did you think he was going to be more 1337? ;-)

     

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

  38.  
    identicon
    Jeff Rife, Jun 13th, 2011 @ 10:21am

    Re:

    I was also wondering if he might be sued by FN, since the trademarked name of the handgun and his company name use the same sort of mixed case, with the company name highlighted in the mix:

    Five-seveN
    5iveSe7en

    He might also be hearing from New Line Cinema about Se7en.

     

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This