Monday, March 10, 2008

PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR INDIE ROCK IS


With CD sales declining and labels whining, it might seem crazy to view recorded music as fertile ground for investment. But for thousands of fans-turned-music-investors on SellaBand and Slicethepie, it makes perfect sense to gamble on a favorite band's future.

"I don't see anything wrong with the music industry in terms of artists being discovered, financed and released," said Slicethepie founder David Courtier-Dutton. "The problem is [the labels'] economic model. It just costs way too much money to get to the point where they find whether or not anyone likes the music."

By having fans fund albums, these sites hope to channel money toward projects more likely to succeed. It's like holding a fundraiser to usurp the executive producer's traditional moneybags role, while crowdsourcing the A&R (artists and repertoire) guy's job.

The idea is to tap a band's online fan base to generate cash for recording and production costs, and in the process help musicians that are hot on MySpace move to the next level. The model is so intriguing that Amazon.com wants in on the action, although regulatory hurdles could keep music-investment sites from taking off in the United States.

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