Quick Link to another new business model for music

Here is a write up about a German effort to connect musicians and online fans directly, in this case with actual transfers of hard cold cash. Well, kinda:

German startup Sellaband.com is hoping to leverage the wisdom, and cash, of the crowd to produce high quality independent music for free download on their site. It’s a fascinating prospect even if it seems unlikely to succeed.The way it works is this: bands upload sample music to Sellaband.com, promote the heck out of their profile page and ask fans to chip in $10 per share of a recording that will be produced when the band raises $50,000. The fans can take their money back out at any time before the goal is met. Once recordings are made, they are offered for free on the Sellaband site, where ad revenue will be split between the bands (60%), Sellaband (30%) and the hired producer and manager. Fans each get a copy of the recorded CD and bands are free to offer them any other benefits, like concert tickets, that they wish. Sellaband retains rights on the music for 12 months. The company seems confident that bands will be able to find 5,000 supporters (called “Believers”) willing to put up $10 apiece.

One week since signing on, most of the 130 bands on the site have raised between $200 and $500. One Goth band from the Netherlands has raised $4500.

No comment before I think about it more, but I would love to hear yours.

A new model for connecting fans and bands

Here’s a piece about a business start up trying to connect bands with fans and people who are likely to become fans. Reverbnation.com, based in North Carolina’s research triangle, a long-time hotbed of indie music, is set to launch this fall after getting $2 million VC$:

The Rosebuds are among the 100-plus musicians and bands that have agreed to test Reverbnation until the site launches publicly this fall. The artists are uploading concert schedules, sound files and biographical information.

The bands are also building links to their fans’ home pages, blogs and favorite song lists. Reverbnation wants to create a searchable fan database that bands and club owners can tap into to promote shows and CDs. The fans could be searched by genre, age and geographical location.

A musician’s economic value — and by extension Reverbnation’s — will be measured by the number of fans that use the site.

“It’s not just sales anymore — it’s eyeballs,” said Jed Carlson, Reverbnation’s chief marketing officer. “It’s how many hits is your MySpace page getting. That’s insight [for the music industry] into who should we call, who should we sign, who should we produce.”

Backed by $2 million from venture capitalists Novak Biddle Venture Partners in Bethesda, Md., and Southern Capital Ventures in Raleigh, the site is being developed by a team of seven marketers, Web developers and music industry veterans in Durham and New York City.

Music fans are hungry for sites that will effectively refer them not just to music they will like, but also to live shows in their area. If this site succeeds in getting its critical mass, it could be great. Or not. I’ll be watching with interest to see how the vision gets implimented in practice.

Hi LJ People!

Yesterday brought a Live Journal flood my way. Hi everyone! There’s lots of meta-fandom activity going on over there, and as someone who’s not on LJ, I know I’ve been missing out. Anyone game for offering a ‘fandom studies on LJ’ primer?

Engage in Fandom, Win Valuable Points!

If I were a sports fan not yet there I’d be heading over to check out still-in-beta site FanIQ.com, a which bills itself as “sports talk with a score:”

The Web site, less than a year old, tracks predictions made by media experts and allows fans to create accounts and make predictions. The results of a fan’s predictions are tallied and each user’s score is posted to display their prowess or lack of. (TheState.com)

The site was started by Ty Shay, who used to be the chief marketing officer for hotwire.com, and who offers this origin tale:

Ty was frustrated that there wasn’t an easy way to track the sports predictions he constantly made with his brother. After talking with other fans, he soon realized that accountability for sports predictions was a far bigger problem which included paid “sports experts” and message boards. The FanIQ community is the result of these insights.

This seems like a really clever way to give fans a combination of a game to play, a way to build greater social status/credibility/social capital that takes advantage of their favorite hobby, and a platform for hanging out and socializing with other fans. I like that it is set up to allow users to engage the site in ways that vary in how structured and how social they are. Fans can focus only on their own scores vs the experts, play against one another individually or in leagues, talk in forums, and more. It’s also interesting to strategically pit ‘average fans’ against the mainstream sports media. How long will it be before some of the people who emerge as especially good prognosticators on this site find themselves becoming “paid sports experts?” The site is free and has no advertising, so it’ll be interesting to watch how it fares in the long run. If anyone reading this is spending time on fanIQ please leave a comment with your take on the site.

If sports aren’t your thing but celebrities are, try this alternative, Fafarazzi. As they describe it on the site:

Fafarazzi.com is a Fantasy Celebrity League. Instead of points being scored for homeruns and touchdowns they’re scored for divorces and catfights!

Me, I’m just not competitive enough to do fandom for points.

Quick take on the SoaP backlash

News reports are giddy with glee that SoaP, while opening at #1, didn’t do as well as was anticipated at the box office. I have a few quick takes on this that I want to throw out.

First, I’m struck by a parallel with the way the press treats political blogs. There’s a very ambivalent relationship — blogs are a novel and timely topic to write about in the news. Things like the SoaP phenomenon shaking up Hollywood, or grassroots citizens organizing through blogs in ways that shake up the political establishment, make fun stories and keep everyone feeling appropriately current. But at the same time, if bloggers are really going to start being driving forces in politics, that’s pretty disruptive not just to the political establishment but also to the press. So even as the press goes to bloggers for their stories, they also expend a lot of energy disparaging their value to public discourse. In the same way, fan activity that disrupts Hollywood also disrupts the priviledged position of professional film critics (who were not invited to prescreenings of SoaP). So at the same time it’s great storytelling to build up the Soaps on a Blog thing, if participatory fandom really works well, it can also be a great big threat to the same people who are telling those stories. That’s why I think they’re so happy it’s merely going to be profitable and not a block buster.

Second, I remember back in the 90s everyone was always fretting about how the internet turns everyone into overactive flamers. Turned out there really weren’t all that many people being obnoxiously argumentative and insulting online, but flames were so visible and emotionally salient, it seemed like there were zillions and everyone was doing it (cite: Martin Lea & Russell Spears). I wonder if the visibility and interest-value of the online SoaP phenomenon led people to overestimate the real number of individuals who were involved.