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Sellaband Shifts Gears, Drops $50K Minimum

GUEST POST: Indie singer songwriter Mathew Ebel  is carving out a living with a mixture of live performances, CD sales, subscriptions and more.  But he caught my eye with his weekly series of live net performances via Ustream.

One of the keys  to Ebel's survival has been his ability to embrace new ideas and technologies that might connect him to fans and move his carreer forward. Fan funding enabler Sellaband was just that kind of concept, except for one thing; he couldn't imagine raising the $50,000 minimum required. Then he got a phone call  that could change everything.

Sellaband Title

Earlier this week I received a call (yes, a voice from the Netherlands) about the future of Sellaband. If you’re not already aware, Sellaband was set up to help independent artists (like me) finance albums with real producers, real studios, and real promotion. I posted a more detailed explanation back in February, but the major drawback was the budget goal: $50,000 USD. Crikey.

That’s all changing. Sellaband is becoming less like a make-your-own record deal and more like a straight-up micro-financing site for musicians. I’m excited about this and more convinced that this is how I want to finance my next album. Read on for details…

Major Changes at Sellaband

They finally posted their plans on The Sellaband Site, but I’ll give you a breakdown of how this will affect you (my fans and investors) and me (the guy making all the noises in the studio)…

The Goal Is Now $10,000

Actually, the goal can be anything from $10k to $100k, it’s up to me (and you). I made Goodbye Planet Earth for about $5,000 including duplication, so two or three times the budget would mean I could hire a real engineer, more than one other musician, and maybe even a producer to help me improve my sound.

I Can Set My Own Incentives

Now I can add things like remixable tracks, posters, stickers, house concerts, or whatever I want as incentives to invest. Want to contribute $500 to the cause? You’ll get the deluxe box set with a video documentary about the album’s creation. $1,000? I’ll write you a custom song. It’s all up to me (and you) now!

Revenue Sharing Is Optional

Most of you who signed up have already told me you don’t care about the .01% (or whatever) of the net revenue you’ll get from album sales. Good, ’cause that posed two problems: It’s an accounting nightmare to keep track of all that. Also, it meant I had to sell exclusively through SellaBand’s store so they could do the payment processing. Fortunately…
I Can Use CD Baby, iTunes, and Amazon

I can distribute the album any way I want, which means it’ll still be available via iTunes, CD Baby, and at live concerts when it comes out. If there’s revenue sharing involved, it’ll be up to me to handle the accounting, but SellaBand is now willing to trust the artists to run their own business. Shocking, no?

“Artists will always own the master recordings and keep 100% of publishing rights.”

I put that in quotes ’cause the direct line from SellaBand is explanation enough.

Sellaband’s Fee: 10% of the goal

They will not keep any revenue from CD sales, just a tenth of whatever goal I set. Sounds fair to me considering I’m already at $5,000.

That last comment is the important one…Your contributions have put me at about $5,000 right now -  exactly what it cost me to produce my last album. If we can double or triple that budget, I could create something truly stunning. I think Sellaband could be the best thing to happen to indie albums since the iTunes Music Store.

These changes won’t be enacted for another month or so, but I’m assuming it’ll take me longer than that to generate enough cash to produce “Songs for Geeks” (or whatever I’m calling the next disc).

Matthew Ebel Live at FWA 2009

Photo by Barton Creative

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