04 July 2007

SellaBand - What is it really?

On first glance, SellaBand looks like a very interesting and rather charming concept in crowdsourcing the financing of a band's/artist's recording.

The main How it works page looks promising: "No Strings Attached. At all times during the SellaBand program, you are free to leave".

However after reading through some additional details on other pages, one finds out a significant publishing rights component: "for the songs you will record with SellaBand you must sign a Publishing Agreement with SellaBand." And the publishing agreement (pdf) contains "The Artist shall exclusively transfer the music publishing rights in relation to the Works to SellaBand."

So it looks like as an artist, you can leave, but the rights to your songs are signed over in a publishing deal.

And the way I understand the materials on the web site, the "believers" / investors do NOT get any cut of the publishing revenues, while SellaBand gets a good chunk and the producers of the CD get some as well.

Am I the only one, who feels like someone is trying to sneak something by artists as well as "believers"/investors?

Some of the founders have considerable roots in the traditional recording industry.

Let me put it very mildly: Given the observations outlined above, I do not find SellaBand an attractive proposition as an artist or "believer".

6 comments - add your comment:

duckett said...

Yeah, I've generally found my first instincts to be the right ones when it comes to this sorta stuff; I checked out the site, and it just smelled like "Oho, this is the recording industry's attempt to thwart being made irrelevant..."
It just was trying wayy too hard to come off as hip and spunky, and no amount of buzzword BS can disguise the fact that they're still pushing that same old hoary concept of "you need Big Name People to get anywhere, we've got The Inside Scoop!"
Pfui.

Bruce Warila said...

Interesting about the publishing... I just did a post on SellaBand. Can you comment on what you know about the publishing...

Thanks,

Bruce
http://www.unsprungartists.com/unsprung_wisdom/2007/12/22/sellaband-amazon-digital-music-madness.html

spinmeister said...

have a look at their contracts (linked in the article above). For example, the publishing agreement states that

"1.1 The Writer shall exclusively transfer the author rights in relation to the Works, as described in
article 4.1, to Publisher."

I'm not a lawyer, but to me that sounds like you are giving up control over your songs.

So you should most definitely get some good legal advice on the contracts you are agreeing to with sell-a-band, before you sign up with them.

Personally, I'm avoiding contracts like that.

Gary said...

Time to clear some stuff up. My wife is a SAB recording artist (just had her album released last week... http://www.sellaband.com/shop/artist/mandyleigh/ ).

the publishing (which is for life, like all publishing deals):
- 60% artist.
- 30% sellaband
- 10% producer

This is ONLY on the songs recorded for the album.

In any other record label, even an established (ie successful) artist would be lucky to get 50% of the publishing, and the other 50% to the label. So honestly, the publishing with SAB is VERY fair.... the fairest there is if you want to sign to a label.

The publishing deal is ONLY signed when the artist has hit the 50k. You can leave at any time before then, no strings attached, and people get back whatever money they invested in you.

That point 4.1 is a standard thing in a publishing contract. You assign the rights to a publisher to exploit the songs. They are still your songs... you still wrote them, not the publisher. They are just licensed to try and promote them for you and get (in this case) 30% of any profits from the licensing.

Masters: the artists gets 100% ownership of the master after 1 year of their album being released on SAB. Tell me any other label that even considers releasing the masters ownership to the artist.

any profits from album sales/downloads/ad revenue are split equally between artist/investors/sellaband . Can't get fairer than that.

Investors get a limited edition cd for EVERY $10 they invest in a recorded artist. They then sell those extra cd's if they have any. So for an investor there's not much risk... they have cd's to sell all over the world (via SAB, Amazon, in retail stores etc) with SAB's partnerships, or they can give them away as gifts. Meanwhile, they still earn money from the mp3 downloads, regular cd sales and ad-revenue from the site.

So, just so you know the real story. I agree SAB should re-write their T&C to make it easier to understand.

btw in regards to the Big Name thing....
- artists have total freedom of choice as to who they record with, as long as the producer etc are good enough to deliver (ie the artist doesn't hire their amateur buddy and brings out crap). Mandyleigh met with a number of producers... some introduced via SAB, and some she found herself. She chose Mick because he was the best man for the job, for her kind of 'spirit of the 60's' music. Yeah he has a big name too... but that's not a bad thing, is it?

btw Bruce is a nice guy who also got the wrong impression of SAB, but he knows better now :)

spinmeister said...

Hi Gary,

I genuinely hope that in a few years Mandyleigh will look back upon her SAB deal and giving up the publishing rights to the songs on that album with undiminished fondness.

I have a question: Under the SAB publishing deal - is Mandyleigh allowed to give unilateral permission to have her songs remixed without a specific mechanical license from the SAB publishing company? Or do remixers have to worry about receiving cease and desist letters from the lawyers of the publishing company?

Anonymous said...

Personally... we prefer that the artists maintain 100% Copyright to any/all of their music. It is our understanding that Record Labels are responsible for selling the music.... not taking it away from the artists.

Record Labels should only gaurantee for themselves a royalty on sponsored songs.... not claim the Copyright of the song(s) in any way partial or whole.

Here at Triadster Records we gaurantee that the artist have their songs Copyrighted only to them before they are included on any contract. This gaurantee is offered at our Expense.

Alan Thebeau,
Triadster Records,
www.triadsterrecords.com