At this point, bands releasing stems and asking fans to remix their work is old hat. We've seen it done a bunch over the years, and it's pretty common. But Darren Hemmings
alerts us to a cool variation on that done by the UK band Chapel Club. Earlier this year, Chapel Club "parted ways" with Universal Music. In testing out new things, it decided to do a remix offering, but one where fans are actually encouraged to then try to sell the results
and make money off of it:
We're offering THE WHOLE WORLD the chance not only to REMIX THE TRACK, but to SELL their creations and KEEP THE MONEY. LOL.
So the deal is this: you can download these stems FOR FREE, remix the song and self-release it digitally via any online outlet you like. To find out how best to do this we've attached a little step-by-step guide, below.
The band does admit that they're about to sign a new record deal -- so they're doing this "in between" deals, and it's unclear how long it will last. Also, the terms and conditions
(pdf) are interesting in that they actually provide detailed instructions on how to upload the remixed tracks to Tunecore and CDBaby. The band does ask that you email them before releasing the track, which seems like a reasonable request. What's a little odd, though, is that they will not
allow remixers to "give away" the remixes:
So the deal is this: you can download these stems FOR FREE, remix the song and
self-release it digitally (and only digitally) via any online outlet you like (as long as it’s
known for selling lots of music). You can also stream your creation (but don’t give it
That seems like a silly and pointless restriction. The band does note that it retains the publishing rights, meaning that if someone does remix the song and sells a ton of copies somewhere, they'll still get their publishing cut (though the remixer will get all of the direct sales revenue, minus the fees taken out by the middlemen). So, it's smart in that the band knows that if someone else somehow figures out a great way to market and sell the song, they'll still make some money. But, it's still a little disappointing to see that restriction on giving it away. For such an experiment that seems pointless.
It's also a nice reminder that letting some others make money in helping to promote your work (or even letting them build on your work) can be a good thing. There's way too much of an attitude among some that every penny
that's earned belongs to the original creator, even if someone else did more with it. We've warned before that non-commercial
restrictions on Creative Commons often don't
make sense -- but many people cling to them out of this irrational fear that if someone else makes money, it means you lose money. So it's great to see the band recognize that a bigger pie can be good for all.
That said, while I do think this experiment is cool -- and I love to see bands experiment in unique and innovative ways -- I do wonder how successful experiments like this will be. I think that many people think
that fans will rush out to try to "make money" with content from an artist they like, but in watching various businesses built around that concept before, I just haven't seen it play out in reality. Fans like bands because they like those musicians and want to support them. Assuming that they have a monetary incentive to help out often feels weird and just doesn't interest people. In fact, it reminds me a lot of Daniel Pink's awesome and thought provoking book Drive
in which he notes a large stack of research that says for some activities
(not all!) providing monetary incentives actually harms
output. It's for activities where the person already feels fulfilled in some manner or another, and I'd argue that probably applies with fans. Fans don't want to make money off artists they love. They just want to see them succeed. Adding the monetary component might not necessarily be a very good incentive, even if people assume that money is always a driving incentive.
Still, that's just an aside on money and incentives. I still think it's cool to see a band experiment with something different to engage fans that could possibly open up another new revenue stream.