Where Music Socialism Fails

Just when you thought opportunities for user-generated online music content were fully exploited (for this week), here comes a “historic”, once in a lifetime opportunity to “own” your own record label (or at least 1/50,000th of a record label)! Welcome to the world of LaunchALabel.com. This Orlando-based enterprise aims to create the world’s first “Social Record Label”, with all decisions regarding label content, signing and recording of artists, touring, marketing etc. being determined through online voting by its 50,000 co-owners.


How does it work?
Interested users sign-up to the record label and essentially reserve themselves a 1/50,000th share. Once the 50,000th share is reserved, users are asked to buy their share for $25 each. Now they “own” a “share” in the label and can participate in all the aspects of running the label via online forums.

Sounds familiar?
Well, the acclaimed Sellaband.com allows its users to introduce a band to its online community and initiate fundraising through word of mouth that will eventually develop the fan-base that the band needs to get picked up by a major label. Sellaband is, essentially, Socialist-style Artist Development, and it seems reasonable to assume that the model can, indeed, work. Of course, like any new user-generated online music initiative, it relies on user participation and interest and its social networking system will be critical to its success.

Where Socialism Fails..
If Sellaband is the equivalent of a socialist music co-op than LaunchALabel is a Marxist Music Commune with aspirations for world musical domination that would make any anarchist proud. Just how involved will users (shareholders) be in the daily operations of the label? According to LaunchALabel, “You will have a vote in virtually every decision the label makes… from the bands it signs, to the tours the bands go on, to t-shirt designs and more… you will even be choosing the label’s name!” Maybe it’s just me but the further I get into the pitch, the more I feel like I’m buying something from a late-night infomercial. With a liberal use of terms like “historic event”, “the world’s first”, and questionable sales tactics like “If you can’t see the value in contributing $25 to a history making music venture then unfortunately it’s probably just not for you”, it’s hard to take this initiative seriously. The founders of LaunchALabel seem to be under the impression that providing all the details of how the label will work, including creating a less-than professional financial proposal detailing everything from band expenses to office supplies will put me at ease but, unfortunately, it has the opposite effect.
Launch A Label - launchalabel.com

Initiatives like Sellaband [seem to] work because they appreciate the limits of the medium in an industry where, despite the attempts of a new generation of web-savvy, mp3-toting young music execs and entrepreneurs, launching new artists and running a successful label still depends on solid industry experience, industry contacts and solid business sense. The record industry may be suffering from the competition from online music sales, illegal downloading, piracy, etc., but replacing the traditional record industry paradigm in one fell swoop, as LaunchALabel is attempting, is simply not feasible. While you have to give LaunchALabel credit for giving it a go, I think we’re going to see a lot of music fans out there who aren’t too happy about losing $25 to this overreaching venture; 50,000 of them, to be exact.

Originally posted on VIRV TV Blog by Lior

1 comment:

noellerivera said...

I read this article about WebAandR.com and how it's supposed to be the biggest music social networking site out there. Apparently it's supposed to the "the music reference" for the industry and helps indie artists get in contact directly with A&R representatives. It also gives free reviews to any artist that approaches them or signs up. I went to the website and its under construction, but they had this ning site http://webaandr.ning.com/ where they give helpful information to artists trying to break in the industry. It sounds pretty cool. More promising than the splitting of shares.

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