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The Fan Funded Fantastic Fantasy


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TMV are happy to introduce Josh Saunders Ex Head of Digital at EMI Music UK. Today Josh delves down into new fan-funded upstart Musicslu and analyses the pros and cons of this particular service and music 2.0 services in terms of cash vs free consumption models.

Musicslu.com launched last month, to a quiet fanfare – befitting a beta – and it’s a site with a new take on the Fan Funded music model – this being a path already well-trodden by, mainly, SellABand.com and SliceThePie.com.

Musicslu is run by Andrew Moffat, based in Chicago. He explains in his post on TechDirt, that Musicslu’s take on the Fan Funded, is that it’s based on a guarantee. A target is set by the band, or content owner/uploader, and nothing happens until that target is hit.

Basically, a band announces how much it needs to raise to release its album, and fans pledge money. No one actually pays until the full pledge number is hit — and then once it’s hit, the music is released for everyone totally free (covered by a Creative Commons license that encourages sharing).

Judging by the number of followers on Twitter, Musicslu hasn’t gained much traction yet, and well, who is to say that it will. Despite claims by prominent and respected Futurists such as Gerd Leonhard, that anachronistic old models need to be let go, and are holding back new models, “Music 2.0” has (seemingly) yet to make many artists rich (the dudes who sold Last.fm to CBS, maybe, but…not artists) and the issues are huge – involving not only legal issues, but also paradigm shifts in mass consumer behavior, to calibrate itself to the dreams of the Music 2.0 evangelists.

By which I mean (and don’t get be wrong, I’m on the side of Music 2.0) – if we’re in a brave new world of music retail, thanks to Digital, then the dominant leader of iTunes provides – well – a reasonably old school model. That is: shift units as a retailer (sans bricks and mortar), and divvy out the cash to the labels and copyright owners. And, in 2009, iTunes still remain the most prominent source of revenue on any major or indie label’s Digital bottom line, and – until those changes – the Music Futurist columnists and speakers and bloggers are, well, just going to have to wait till the future arrives.

And, as we all know, the future does tend to have an annoying happen of materializing, well, in the future, and often not out of the blue from The Music Void.

Wired Magazine did a good in-depth analysis of all the many free £0.00/$0.00 business models out there – and it’s good reading when comparing how this important price point for recorded music these days (that is…free) stands up to the Music 2.0 “yes-cash-can-change-hands-after-all-models”, these being: the subscription model, the playlist or “URL as mp3” model replacing ownership (such as Spotify), and the fan funded model.


  • Wayne Rosso

    Wayne Rosso has worked in music and technology for decades. He has worked with such artists as Aerosmith, Bee Gees, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Public Image LTD., Beach Boys, Phillip Glass, Fleetwood Mac, Rick James, New Kids on the Block, Slash, Evanescence and scores of others.


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