SellaBand is known for funding musicians' albums with contributions from fans -- contributions that not only help to record the music but also entitle the paying fans to a share of the revenues from the album after it's released. Up until now, the artists using SellaBand have not exactly been household names, making it susceptible to Masnick's law
where critics could say SellaBand is only
good for small bands. However, Chuck D and Public Enemy are aiming to prove that a big-name act can solicit $250,000 from fans
to finance their next album. It's actually not all that surprising that Chuck D would go this route. You may not remember, but when Lars Ulrich from Metallica first freaked out about Napster, it was Chuck D who publicly debated him
, and said that file sharing was "the new radio" and it was time to embrace it. Chuck D also testified before the Senate
about how file sharing was a great distribution mechanism, and the recording industry was making a mistake trying to stop it. So you had to figure he'd be a fan of trying out smarter, fan-focused business models.
Similar to efforts by Trent Reznor, Jill Sobule, Kickstarter and many others, SellaBand also has a system of fan-fundable tiers for its artists. For Public Enemy, supporters can buy into the project in $25 shares in order for Public Enemy to reach its ultimate quarter million dollar goal. And the more shares you buy
, the more you get.
- 1 Part ($25) = "Believer" Level Incentive: Exclusive, numbered CD in Digipak
- 4 Parts ($100) = "Hype" Level Incentive: "Believer" Level, plus the opportunity to buy 2nd CD at 50% off, & Name in booklet
- 10 Parts ($250) = "Rebel" Level Incentive: All of Above plus Exclusive Limited Edition Public Enemy T Shirt
- 20 Parts ($500) = "Posse" Level Incentive: All of Above plus Autographed Copy of CD signed by Chuck D
- 40 Parts ($1,000) = "Terrordome" Level Incentive: All of Above plus Unlimited backstage pass for 3 years [Limited to 50]
- 200 Parts ($5,000) = "Bring The Noise" Level Incentive: All of Above plus Executive Producer Credit on Album [Limited to 15]
- 400 Parts ($10,000) = "PE Number One" Level Incentive: All of Above plus Studio Visit during recording session [Limited to 5]
But unlike Josh Freese
, Public Enemy's tiers are missing a certain je ne sais quoi
that could connect with fans or give them a compelling reason to buy a 3-year backstage pass for $1,000. These tiers lack some authenticity to me, though I wouldn't consider myself a fan of Public Enemy. But honestly, I can't really tell if Public Enemy came up with these levels -- because they sound so standard (especially if you look at other SellaBand artist tiers). Not to knock Public Enemy too hard, but they really should put a bit more effort into something like this. And SellaBand might also benefit from looking into floundering Kickstarter projects
to perhaps get a better grasp of how to promote artists that aren't quite reaching their fund goals. One of the lessons learned is that contributing fans want to see some involvement and interactions -- you can't just set it and forget it -- if you're asking fans to part with a few thousand dollars. But on the other hand, SellaBand doesn't seem to have goal deadlines, so Public Enemy might have the fame and patience to attract 10,000 fans willing to fork over $25 each.