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
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Mar 2009 @ 2:20pm

    Re: Re:

    No, the problem is this: The public hasn't connected the dots yet on this "infringing". If enough infringing happens (and we are pretty much getting to that critical point), the record companies will stop financing new releases. If the public places no value on recorded music, the people who have been the money behind the business will leave the building.

    Funny. You should talk to JY Park. He notes that Korea hit critical mass when broadband was available to 80% of the population. Record sales dropped to next to nothing.

    You know what he did? He reinvented the business model and is producing MORE new music today than in the past and making a lot MORE MONEY via JYP records than he did in the past. He figured out some great new business models and it's been working out great. He's producing tons of new music and making more money -- by not worrying about how to sell music, knowing that that's not where the money is. But he's still making music because that leads to exactly where the money is.

    JYP's success pretty much disproves every single point Harold has tried to make. It represents up-and-coming artists who have been MASSIVELY successful (Rain, Wonder Girls), and none of them were based on the need to sell music directly, but through a variety of ancillary businesses that are paying off like you wouldn't believe.

    People aren't attending more concerts,

    Actually, they are.

    Because without it, the solution is the end of the music buisness (and everything that goes with it, and you won't like it)

    Yes, that's why more music is being produced today than ever in the past.

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