Jill Sobule Shows She Can Create A 'Professional' Fan-Financed Album

from the and-it-works dept

We've written a few times about Jill Sobule's business model experiment last year, where she was able to get fans to pre-finance her album, by offering tiered levels of support that all provided something extra (usually something scarce) that created a real reason to buy. Back at MidemNet, Sobule talked about the success of the experiment, but now, as that album is getting close to actually being released, more details are coming out about how the experiment worked (via Nancy Baym). It covers some of the familiar territory, but one key interesting point: she raised over $75,000 in less than two months and used it to produce an album just as if she were with a record label. That is, she didn't want to cut corners. So she hired famed producer Don Was and a bunch of top notch studio musicians.

I bring this up because one of the critiques that some readers have had whenever we talk about these business models is that under the business models we discuss, the "quality" of the music would surely decline. These commenters insist that such a model would focus on people recording crappy songs in their living rooms, rather than doing a full professional setup. While that may be true of some, it would seem that this is pretty clear evidence that it certainly doesn't need to be the case:
"I wanted to show the labels that I could do what they're supposed to be doing at a fraction of the cost, and do it better. I spent a couple of weeks in a studio in Los Angeles where Joni Mitchell and the Carpenters and Poison --- let's not forget Poison -- recorded. I wanted to make an album that could've come from a big-label artist, and at the same time was totally grassroots."
She does note, of course, that the process of "connecting with fans" is time consuming, and admits that there are times when her writing suffers because she's spending so much time online, communicating with fans. Indeed, that is an issue, and I think that artists who are adopting these models are definitely going to have spend some time finding the right balance -- or getting to a point where they can work with someone (the role that a good label should be playing) to help manage the "marketing" side of things. Still, can we kill off the myth that these new models mean that quality of new recordings suffers?

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  1. identicon
    RD, 22 Mar 2009 @ 6:27pm

    yes, but...

    You just made my point for me:

    "Without value, there is no price possible. $20 for a CD isn't a good price in line with what people perceive the value of the product to be."

    Once again, you are equating value with price and sticking it into a CD. But you are right about one thing. People dont see $20 for a plastic disc to be a good deal. So they are turning to alternatives. Which is what this ENTIRE DISCUSSION IS ABOUT, and which you keep ignoring and skipping past.

    And music is ALREADY COMMON. Radio has for DECADES played FREE MUSIC and that hasnt hurt sales one iota. People still make music, and have come up with ways to profit from that. You have no answer for that though, because you are stuck in your paradigm of Big Label+CD=ONLY way to do things. That model is changing, will change and will not be the dominant one someday. And you know what? SOMEONE will find a way to a) leverage the new "free" and b) profit from it. It WILL happen. Remove your head from the posterior of your industry pals and get a clue. You can be the windshield or the bug. Right now, you are the bug.

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