Fan funded music: Sellaband

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 5th July 2010.

Music fans looking for an alternative to the commercial music industry are turning to the internet. Social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook have allowed new and undiscovered artists, such as one hit wonder Sandi Thom, to gain worldwide exposure. Long gone are the days of garage bands making demo CDs to hand out at gigs (it was actually demo cassettes in my rather embarrassing grunge band phase). And now a new movement known as “fan funded music” is becoming increasingly popular online.

Sellaband ( was launched in August 2006 and is based in Amsterdam. The aim of the company is to assist musicians by bringing them together with fans who are willing to pool money together to fund a recording.

Aspiring solo artists and bands register on the website and then upload their profile including info, photos and music. Punters can then browse these profiles and listen to tracks. If an artist or group takes your fancy, you can become a “believer” by purchasing a share or “part” for US$10. When an artist attracts enough paying fans to sell 5000 parts, they can then access the US$50,000 to record an album with the producers and engineers of their choice.

For each part purchased, the believer receives a limited edition copy of the CD they have helped fund. Sellaband recordings are also distributed worldwide via online retailers such as Amazon and iTunes. For a five year period following the release of the recording, any net revenues are equally shared by the artists and the believers.

So far, 21 artists have successfully reached their $50,000 goal and  released an album. Of these, two artists hail from Australia. Folk rock singer Mandyleigh Storm from Perth released “Fire and Ice” in March 2008. Brisbane rock band, Vegas Dragons, were also successful. There are another 11 artists worldwide currently recording, including Australian hard rock singer Tiffany Gow.

 A great feature of Sellaband is its flexibility. Fickle believers can move their shares around from artist to artist, and even sell back parts for a refund. It is only when an artist reaches their goal that the supporters are formally locked in.

Sellaband also allows you to communicate directly with your favourite artists. Within minutes of purchasing a part, the selected artist is usually personally thanking you for your support via email. Fans can message and chat with other believers and Sellaband musicians worldwide.

Sellaband and similar website Slicethepie ( are a great way to discover new music from almost every style and genre. Even if you choose not to invest, it costs absolutely nothing to listen to music from all over the world.

Published in: on March 17, 2010 at 08:17  Leave a Comment  
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