The 365 Ways Blog

Michael Norton is author of "365 Ways to Change the World", which provides an issue for each day of the year, interesting facts, inspiring case studies of people doing things to address the issue and ideas for action. Originally published in the UK, versions with local content have been published in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the USA. To find out more visit our website:

20 January 2008

Become a music producer

The internet has changed for ever how music is distributed. Tracks can now be accessed digitally by downloading from iTunes and other sites and through file sharing. The age of the big record company with its list of signed-up musicians may be ending, and certainly the big companies seem to have fallen on harder times.

To emphasise the point, Radiohead released their album "In Rainbows" on line on 10th October 2007 asking purchasers to choose their own purchase price (which could be for nothing). The album became a best-seller on both sides of the Atlantic, and was eventually released in traditional format.

The internet is also allowing fans to become partners of musicians and co-owners of their output. Here are two popular international websites where musicians can be published and fans can become part of the process and even co-owners of the recordings.

Sell a band
On the Netherlands-based Sellaband, not to be confused with the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant, this is how it works. A musician signs up for free, first having accepted the terms and conditions of the site. They then create a profile, which includes a picture, a biography, a maximum of 3 demo songs and details of any website or social networking site. The musician or band then sets out to raise $50,000 by finding 5,000 Believers each prepared to invest $10. Believers can be recruited via the website, or the musician can plan an active role in trying to find these 5,000 people.

Once the money has been raised, the musician records their CD, and this is then promoted and distributed by the musician, the website and the 5,000 Believers doing what they can. Believers get a free CD in return for their investment plus a share of the profits.

This is the process of becoming a Believer:
1. Find a musician you want to believe in. Select a category of music and then earch on the website. Or find a friend who wants to become a great musician and get them to sign up on Sellaband.
2. Read the terms and conditions and then sign up as a Believer. This is free.
3. Buy one or more parts of your selected musician. Each musician issues 5,000 parts.
4. Help you musician achieve the target of selling 5,000 parts.
5. Get a sneak preview of your musician as their music is being transformed into a CD.
6. Receive your own “Limited Edition” copy of the CD.7. Make money. Three of the songs on the CD will be distributed as free downloads. The other tracks will cost 50cents each to download, and the net profit is split between the Believers, the musician and Sellaband.
8. Make more money. You will get a share of the royalties on album sales, and you can open your own Shop on Sellaband to sell related products from your musician.
9. Promote the music. Spread the word. It’s in everybody’s interest!
Find out about how Sellaband works at:

Slice the pie
A similar website is the UK-based SliceThePie, where:
• Musicians can raise money directly from their fans so that they are able to professionally record and release their albums
• Fans can become emotionally and financially involved at all levels of the music industry – scouting, breaking, investing in and influencing real musicians.
• Investors can gamble on, trade in and profit from the success of the musicians they invest in.
• Musicians who secure finance pay SliceThePie a small royalty on album sales but keep all their copyright and publishing rights.

There are two routes for a musician to get funding. If they already have a dedicated fan base of over 5,000 fans, then they may be able to go directly to the financing stage, and they should contact SliceThePie.

Alternatively, they can join a SliceThePie Arena. Each Arena is divided into 3 stages: 

1. Scout Room:
Up to 1,000 musicians enter a Scout Room where music fans give high quality feedback on each musician’s three demo tracks.

2. Showcase:
Up to 20 musicians with the best reviews from the Scout Room are then featured in the Showcase, where fans vote for their favourite.

3. Get financed:
 Musicians seek support from fans on the Showcase. Those who get enough support receive the £15,000 needed to record an album. Whatever happens, the most popular artist is guaranteed £15,000.

Fans can also earn money as a Scout by reviewing new music and spotting talent. The better you become at this, the more you will earn per review and the more influential your vote will be. Find out about how SliceThePie works at:

I fought the Lloyds
A band called Oystar have just released a protest song in the UK called "I Fought the Lloyds" about what happened when Dan Understanding tried to reclaim bank charges where he felt he had been overcharged. The track features a cameo from Martin Lewis, the MoneySavingExpert, together with Mr Horse who bears a passing resemblance to the Lloyds stallion and Dan who got £531 pounds back from Lloyds Bank by following the simple steps that were given on Martin Lewis's website.

"I Fought the Lloyds" got prominent coverage when the case by the Office of Fair Trading against the big banks started in January 2008. The MoneySavingExpert organised a campaign to get people to download the track. “If you've reclaimed bank charges, plan to, or support the cause... let’s get the song to the top of the agenda by getting it to the top of the charts. Order the 50p download and cross your fingers for a number 1 in the week of the bank charges test case.”

The track was released on 7th January 2008. It became Number 1 in the download charts and on January 13th was Number 25 in the Singles Charts. “I Fought The Lloyds” is available from iTunes or by texting “bankers” to 82822. Texts cost 50p + your standard text message charge.

Dan Understanding and co-vocalist Kev Campbell are selling shares in themselves as “Blairs Britain” on Sellaband. So you can support them and their protest music, and at the same time make an investment in two musicians with a purpose.

Find out about Oystar and the story of “I fought the Lloyds” at:
Watch the video of “I fought the Lloyds” at:

And find out how to challenge your bank charges at:


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