Basically, fans contribute a certain amount of cash to recording costs, in this case the band are suggesting $25 per person with the group aiming to raise $250,000 USD (£158K) to complete the project.
Obviously, such funding would traditionally come from a record label but the whole idea here is that artists tap into fan communities as investors and therefore retain more copyright over the material they record. In return for their investment, fans will receive a unique, numbered digipak edition of the CD alongside a pro ratio share of 33.3% of all net revenues generated by sales.
In a statement, the band’s leader Chuck D (real name Carlton Douglas Ridenhour) said: "SellaBand's financial engine model goes about restructuring the music business in reverse. It starts with fans first, then the artists create from there. The music business is built on searching for fans and this is a brand new way for acts to create a new album with fans first, already on board".
The band were previously signed to a number of labels in different territories including Def Jam recordings, Columbia and Sony. Their most recent and twelfth album ‘How you sell soul to a soulless people who sold their soul?’ was released in 2007 on the Slam Jamz label, which is seemingly a subsidiary of Columbia in which Chuck D is a commissioner.
SellaBand CEO Johan Vosmeijer said in a statement: “Our goal is to empower the artist and their fans, both creatively and commercially. Working with Public Enemy is an incredibly exciting way to take the European success we’ve built over the past three years and offer it to stateside bands.”
Intriguingly, SellaBand announced a deal in March 2009 to launch in the US with Chuck D’s music company BTN (Bring The Noise) Management in which the rapper would fulfill the role of SellaBand's "US ambassador”.
In October of this year, SellaBand launched a new model that allows artists complete flexibility in their fan-funded projects and the company doesn’t retain any rights.
Under their original business model, the funding was restricted for recording an album with raising a fixed total of either $50,000 or $100,000 USD, with shares at $10 per person.
Have your say - What are your thoughts on SellaBand, Bandstocks, Slicethepie et al? Is it an innovative way of enabling fan communities to effectively function as a record label? Is the success of this model extremely dependent on artists having a significant existing fan base that can arguably only be achieved with the traditional PR, marketing and distribution of a major label in the first place? Will we see more high profile artists choose to fund their recording in this way and retain copyright, adding weight to the argument that selling music is all about intellectual property rights now?