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
    Booger, 22 Mar 2009 @ 2:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's a good thing the porn industry didn't take the same attitude. There's free porn all over the internet, from clips to full lenth movies. You don't see them using *IAA tactics and they are thriving despite all the shared porn floating around. Why? They innovate, they address the customers wants and needs, they constantly change their offerings and business models. How about that, in spite of the rampant piracy they rake in the dough.

    So let's see, just off the top of my head what could the music industry change?

    They could distribute music digitally through affiliate programs. Sure there'd still be piracy, but there'd be a lot more sales too because of the increased eyes (ears) exposed to it, plus many pirates would say why give something away free when you can make a commission. Much like the porn industry.

    Instead of grooming a handful of artists they could groom a couple orders of magnitude more. They'd serve a much bigger portion of the public and offer a seemingly endless variety of stars and styles to those that wanted it. Much like the porn industry.

    They could save endless dollars by letting the public find the true talent then grooming them... rather than picking the half-talent and marketing them. Much like the porn industry.

    Their stars could offer web cams and clubs. Live streaming video from their clubs, their concerts, their tour busses, their studios, their homes.. or even their bedrooms. Live and even interactive. Pay by the day... or by the month... or even by the year. Much like the porn industry.

    They can sell novelties and unique memorabilia, far beyond t-shirts and cds. Why heck, they could even sell toys (yes, even that kind). Much like the porn industry.

    The only cards they have left? Suing and legislation? Not hardly. They haven't even unwrapped the deck.

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