Fan-sponsored music sounds like a great concept, doesn’t it? Thanks to sites like SellaBand and SliceThePie, fans have the opportunity to invest in a band or solo artist, financing the artist’s album (for a cut of the profits – they can even buy and sell their “shares” in a sort of stock market environment). The artist doesn’t have to give up rights to their work or deal with a label calling the shots. Sound like heaven?
I’m not knocking fan-sponsored music. I think it’s a fascinating evolution in the music industry, and imagine the concept’s going to continue to grow rather than disappear in the foreseeable future. But is a fan-sponsored album right for you?
Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of fan-sponsored music, so you can decide if it’s a worthwhile avenue for your band to pursue:
The Upsides of Fan-Sponsored Music
- Fans who invest in an artist have even more incentive to try to help them succeed by spreading the word.
- There’s an obviously stronger tie in the band-fan relationship when the fans are financially invested in you. Investors generally get special access to the band over the general public, giving you more opportunities to interact with them.
- You’ll potentially drum up more financing than you could otherwise afford.
- You don’t have to worry about trying to get labels to take notice.
- You don’t have to give up rights that label artists do.
- You don’t have to deal with label execs telling you what to do, how to change your style, etc. – You have more creative freedom.
The Downsides of Fan-Sponsored Music
- You’ll be competing with plenty of other artists for the financing available from fans taking part in the phenomenon (it’s still relatively new, meaning investors are somewhat limited – you’ll need to very actively get your existing fans involved).
- Because of that, it helps to already have a very active fan-base. If this is your first CD, and you don’t have a lot of followers yet, you may find it more difficult to gain fan sponsors.
- While true of any independent artist, you won’t have the insider guidance of a label – if you want that, a fan-sponsored album probably isn’t a good fit for you.
- If your album flops, it’s not just the band taking the brunt of the cost – you’ve disappointed investors rather than just fans, which means poor decisions on your part could make securing future financing extremely difficult. In other words, you’ll need to have some business sense before getting involved in the fan-sponsored scene.
I’d love to hear from fan-sponsored artists about their experiences, as well as artists considering this route (why do you want to give it a go? do you have any concerns? etc.). Feel free to share your comments.