‘The music industry is all about fences. Those who are on the inside, and those who are on the outside. SellaBand wants to break down all the fences. Everybody with a passion for music can be on the inside. It’s your music. It’s your choice.
– Sellaband mission statement
No industry has struggled more loudly with new media than the music industry. Record companies are cultural institutions in their own right and watching EMI’s new owner struggling to keep the business together we wonder if we are witnessing the death throws of a dinosaur and it’s hard not to feel a pang of trepidation.
In place of the all powerful record companies offering mega contracts to a chosen few, while most see their dreams come to naught, is the promise of a new democratised industry.
Sellaband is a website striving to position itself in the vanguard of the revolution. The vision is a three-way partnership between the artist, their fans (cultishly referred to as believers) and Sellaband itself. Fans buy shares, or parts, of an artist at US$10 a pop and once they’ve raised $50,000 music gets professionally produced and everyone dines out on the proceeds. I guess that if it takes off, Sellaband could make a serious investment vehicle for music lovers; in three months Sellaband distributed $25,000 to the first three bands to find success and their fans (I reckon that’s $0.83 per $10 part, so you could get your money back in about a year along with a free copy of the CD).
The sticking point seems to be distribution. You don’t find Sellaband artists in HMV. And you don’t see them on the playlist of Radio 1. Which is a pity, because raising £25k from fans should count for something.