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. icon
    PaulT (profile), 21 Mar 2009 @ 4:14am

    Re: Re: Re: WH

    You're right, an unknown artist would not have thousands of fans willing to pre-pay for an album. That's why there are many other business models (that you usually attack incoherently in other threads) which may be suitable for them. There is NO SUCH THING as a business model that works for everyone, within the music industry or outside of it, so stop trying to pretend that there is.

    As ever, you seem to be arguing yourself in circles. Mike *never* says that the business model he's pointing out in a particular article will work for *every* artist. Stop attacking each article in turn, and look at the big picture for a change. The cumulative effect of these articles is to point out a number of simple facts:

    - The current business model used by major labels is failing, in a big way.

    - Suing/restricting customers and trying to ban/overcharge new businesses is not the way forward.

    - There are hundreds of new business models appearing, all of which are successful for certain types of artists. This contradicts the "there's no competing with free" and "ours is the right way because it *used* to work" rhetoric coming from the majors.

    The one and only problem is that none of these new business models allows for middlemen to make millions nor for "superstar" artists to become obscenely rich. If the art is actually important to you in any way, that's not a reason not to make music, and so the music industry will survive, no matter what naysaying fools like yourself have to say.

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