Donal Reddington on mass customization, crowdsourcing and digital manufacturing


Crowdsourcing of band management gathers momentum

Springwise recently reported on developments involving the new trend of crowdsourced band management, which can also be referred to as ‘crowdfinancing’ as the participants pay a fee for the privilege of being involved in deciding the direction of a band. The first entrant in this new marketplace, Sellaband, recently celebrated its first anniversary. The Sellaband crowdfinancing model enables fans to sponsor bands, and get a piece of the action in return. Fans can select an artist that they like on SellaBand.com. For a fee of US$10, they can buy a share, or ‘Part’. Once the band has sold 5,000 parts, SellaBand arranges a professional recording and other management services. Those who voted for the band in question receive a limited edition cd of the recording.

Springwise reports that, over the last year, fans have invested over USD 1,000,000 in various bands through Sellaband. Seven bands have so far raised the US$50,000 required (by having 5,000 parts sold at $10 each) to get to the recording studio. Three of these have already produced and launched their first album, and the other four are currently in the recording studio. In total, 4,806 artists signed up to SellaBand. The first band to raise USD 50,000 was Nemesea, which did so in 83 days.

A second crowdfinancing project called VIPbandmanager is recruiting 50,000 band managers to propel a band to stardom. VIPbandmanager is somewhat different in its approach, concentrating on the creation and management of a single group. For a STG£20 lifetime fee, which is collected after 50,000 people have signed up, managers get to vote on every aspect of the new group. According to Springwise:

“After the band has been formed, members will continue to make all the behind-the-scenes decisions and plans that artist managers and record labels make: choosing producers, helping pick tracks, deciding on the band’s image and promotion, organizing a UK tour and, of course, reaching the top of the charts. The latter will be aided by the viral marketing clout of 50,000 fervent fans.”

The 50,000 particpants gain perks including “entrance to exclusive parties” (which could be less exclusive if they all come to the same one!), goody bags and backstage access.

The principals of VIPbandmanager are founder Mark James Bowness and manager Sam Bush, himself a former participant of the UK reality TV show Shipwrecked.

These two projects take different approaches to the crowdsourcing model. Sellaband is fits more closely within the conventional undrstanding of crowdsourcing, whereas VIPbandmanager is probably closer to a reality TV show in its format. The returns for the participants in each case might, at first glance, seem to be paltry. However, it must be taken into account that the users do not contribute intellectually to the projects (e.g. no-one is asked to contribute guitar riffs or lyrics). So while the projects are using participants contributions of €10 or £20, they still have to put in the work themselves.

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