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
    R. Miles, 23 Mar 2009 @ 4:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Dear Clueless Moron

    Put it another way, 77% of the population still gets their music the old fashioned way, buying shiny plastic discs.
    Incorrect. Several companies have reported sales of CDs have dropped by more than 68% total in the past 10 years.

    Math would indicate 77% is much too great a number.

    So much so, Walmart, Target, and other retailers are reducing the number of CDs kept in stock due to drop in demand for them.

    More likely stocking popular CDs only.

    What everyone's been trying to tell you is this: The CD market is dying because other forms of distribution are now available.

    It matters not if these models require payment or not.

    They're here. And they're affecting the revenue generated from the sales of plastic disks.

    But now, ironically, it's the CD now turning into the scarce good, not the infinite "press until demand drops" model once used.

    Accept it, Weird Harold. Famous or not, every business now has to market a model where consumers demand content be $0.00.

    Yes, it's not easy to do given this was just thrown out in business.

    But this is why you continue to read about NEW BUSINESS MODELS, rather than focus on old ones.

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