“Sellaband” – Just Another Rip-Off?

Sellaband LogoMan, I’m getting really tired of all of these companies that pop up and try to exploit artists who are trying to succeed in this business.  To be fair, there are plenty of companies that do honestly put forth a sincere effort on the part of their clients.   But Sellaband is definitely not doesn’t seem to be one of those companies.

I recently read a post on Bruce Warila’s blog that honestly irritated the shit out of me.  In the post, an artist named Uro talked about his issues with some of Sellaband’s terms and conditions.  You can read Uro’s full post here.

In his comment, Uro raises some pretty legitimate concerns about things like royalty rates, master rites, etc.  All very legitimate concerns.  My problem is with Sellaband’s arrogant, terse response:

Thank you for showing interest in SellaBand.
You may be right that there are still some flaws in our concept and that certain aspects need to be tweaked. However, the answer lies not in the points you raise and we see no reason to meet your demands. You can sign up to SellaBand and agree with the current T&C, or feel free to try your luck elsewhere.

Best regards,
Johan Vosmeijer

What the fuck?!?!?!

I definitely agree with all of the points that Uro raised in his comment.  But I’m in complete shock over Johan Vosmeijer’s response. He’s basically saying, “who are you to tell us how to run our business?”.  That’s seriously fucked up.

I will absolutely not ever sign my music up for this site. They are nothing but a bunch of theives. Of course they don’t want to negotiate their Terms and Conditions.  Why would they?  They’re making money, so why should they care?

I think they would be better served by acknowledging that their business model is seriously flawed (it’s amazing to me that any artist would give up 70% of their royalties and control of their masters).  My prediction is that they’re gonna have a serious problem attracting and retaining quality artists.

Stop the exploitation!!!!

28 Responses to ““Sellaband” – Just Another Rip-Off?”

  1. 1 Magnus
    June 25, 2008 at 8:25 am

    Did you read the Sellaband T&C?
    “# SellaBand will own the Album Master for 12 months after completion of the recording of the CD. After one year the full rights to the Album Master will revert to you. You’ll grant SellaBand a non-exclusive license for a further 12 months.
    # The songs you record with SellaBand will be published by SellaBand Publishing. In this agreement 60% of the publishing income from these songs goes to you, 10% goes to the Production team and the rest (30%) goes to SellaBand. “

  2. June 25, 2008 at 10:11 am

    Yes, I did read their T&C, Magnus! (I thank you for leaving that link, though, so other artists can see it !)

    See, I have a problem with both of these issues you posted. For one, like I said in the article, why would any artist surrender control of their masters, or any of their publishing, when Sellaband isn’t investing anything? I mean, the whole deal is contingent upon the artist raising $50,000 first. If an artist raises 50 grand on their own, they can keep control of their masters AND their publishing. With 50 grand on hand, they wouldn’t NEED Sellaband’s help.

    If Sellaband wants control of masters and/or part of an artists’ publishing, they should be investing some up front money of their own!!!

    Two other things:
    1. Sellaband says that they won’t even record your album for you unless you reach the $50,000 goal. I assume that means that if you raise $40 grand and quit, Sellaband gets that whole $40 grand?

    2. Sellaband also says they budget $30 grand of that 50 toward the artists’ project. So I’m assuming the other $20 grand goes to them? So they get partial publishing, control of masters (for 12 months), PLUS an additional $20 grand? All for no investment on their part?

    And that’s not a rip off how?

  3. 3 Magnus
    June 26, 2008 at 8:14 am

    Of course, if you raise money on your own. then do so.

    Sellaband offers a way for people to support artists. If an artist pulls out before $50k, the people who put up the money gets it back – I know, it’s happened to artists I’ve supported.

    The other $20k goes to printing and distributing the CD to the people who have put up the money for the project.

    I don’t think it’s a rip-off, no. But of course, if you can raise the money on your, go ahead.

  4. June 26, 2008 at 8:22 am

    “Of course, if you raise money on your own. then do so.”

    Couldn’t have said it any better myself, man!

  5. 5 Xander
    June 26, 2008 at 9:08 am

    Iceman, even if you CAN raise 50k yourself, there still might be reasons to investigate SAB.

    With SAB you can tie in your fans by basically going into business together. It ads a social networking element to your fundraising.
    And that is exactly why some artists recently joined SAB that COULD finance the 50k themselves and have studied the T&C very carefully, and still thought SAB could be of benefit for them.

    Of course everybody has to make it’s own assessment whether the conditions of SAB are worth it. In my opinion SAB gives a better deal than the artists where SAB is meant for can do anywhere else. Of course SAB does need to live of something. So if you are called Coldplay or so you can probably much better and cheaper do it yourselves.

    But to call SAB a scam and a rip-off in my opinion is just not true. They are very open about their T&C, if you do not like it, do not join. Nobody is forcing you to.
    But the fact is also that many artists, even some with enough own resources that they could have financed the 50k themselves, find SAB offering something that they think is worth the costs that are of course attached to that.

    The only unknown still is how this venture works out for all parties. It is true that until now nobody did make positive return on investment yet (and that includes SAB by the way), but it is also maybe a little bit short to tell.

    BTW: All money raised until 50k is hold in escrow. SAB can not touch it, neither can the artist. SAB does make interest on it that they use to cover running costs.
    As said, if an artist pulls out, the money held in escrow just is returned to the people who invested the money, which they can be let paid out in cash for a nominal fee of US$1.

  6. 6 Magnus
    June 26, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Yeah, but so far 23 artists have raised 50000 dollars through Sellaband. How many unsigned artists do you know that have raised that kind of money online on their own?

  7. 7 Xander
    June 26, 2008 at 9:30 am

    Addition: Also, investors can always without questions asked get all money back invested on artists that did not make 50k yet, again for a nominal fee of US$ 1 per transaction.

  8. 8 Ronny
    June 26, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    This is too stupid.
    Read the rules of sellaband before drawing the knives!

  9. June 26, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Magnus: Good point. But that’s 23 artists out of how many? And I’d be real interested in knowing how many other artists have complaints similar to Uro’s. Besides, my circle is urban music primarily, and I don’t need to tell you how many of those artists CAN and HAVE raised a lot more than 50 grand on their own. but I guess I get your point. Sellaband should be regarded as heroes for “helping” those 23 artists.

    Xander: For your first post, my main issue isn’t with SAB’s T&C or their disclosure. It’s with how they handle legitimate concerns from their artists. For your second post, that’s good on the behalf of the INVESTORS, most definitely. But that’s not my point. Are they looking out for the ARTISTS? I’d like to hear from some more of them and see what they have to say!

    Ronny: No way I can respond to “This is too stupid”, other than to say my problem isn’t with the RULES of Sellaband so much as it is with the dismissive RESPONSE of their CEO (see above) to what I consider to be very reasonable concerns on Uro’s part. That response is what REALLY prompted me to write this post. Legitimate concerns should be addressed intelligently, not with dismissive arrogance. (Like, “This is too stupid”, for example… 😉 But, again, for your info, I HAVE read the T&C of Sellaband, as I’ve said before!

    Overall, I think I’m hearing a lot from SAB investors, which is great, but I’d like to hear from the other side as well!

  10. June 26, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    I totally get where you’re coming from, Iceman.

    I’ve been fucked over by many companies in my 16 years as a performing/recording artist. I can assure you, Sellaband is a breath of fresh air.

    They’re completely upfront about what they give and what they take. They do retain some rights as far a publishing goes, but it’s significantly less than what labels will take!

    Sell-a-Band is a social networking site in many ways. Think MySpace with a purpose (and minus the 14 yearolds). If any of the artists on SAB could raise $50k on their own, surely they would! It’s likely that most of us can’t. Sell-a-band helps unite the artists with genuine fans while providing the fans an opportunity to help create something (and potentially profit as well).

    Every deal has it’s compromises. I think SAB is genius. You may not. But I wouldn’t never call them thieves. Thieves are companies like Hitt Music Group or Talent2k who claim to help you but just take your money and run. SAB is just cutting the labels out of the equation and bringing the musician and music enthusiasts closer together.

    Dig us http://www.sellaband.com/bg

  11. June 26, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    Hey Bench Grinder! Okay. Based on your response, I’ve over-stricken my blatant accusations of thievery and even put a question mark next to my headline. Because you’re right. They actually MIGHT be helping some artists.

    But the truth is that they’re still arrogant (and I still think they might be dishonest), at least as far as that response to Uro goes. Doesn’t seem like that should be part of the equation to me.

    I still think there are major holes in their operation. I have serious reservations about their ‘goodwill’ towards artists. I doubt I’ll ever call them genius, and I won’t ever recommend them to another artist, but hey, if artists are willing to sign up, let em, right!

    I just hope they get lawyers to decipher the T&C!!!

    Thanks man.

  12. 12 Xander
    June 26, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Final post: I fail to see why it is arrogant if I see SAB admitting that they are still fixing some flaws in their original business model, but that they also state that they can and will not change their T&C for anyone.

    For Uro (or you) this T&C might not be what you are looking for. So do not accept then, you are fully free to look elsewhere. For the things that Uro is looking for, SAB clearly is not the right site.

    But you nor Uro can expect that SAB just changes it business model for the wishes to each and every artist.

    You can either live with the T&C and busines model in which case SAB might be a great opportunity to get a worldwide audience. Or you can not live with the T&C and try elsewhere. Nothing arrogant about that.

  13. June 26, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    As far as goodwill goes… I wouldn’t exactly classify them as a charity! Just like everyone else in the business, they’re trying to get paid! I can’t fault them for that and I hope no one else does either. Think of the interest they’re compounding from artists like myself who will probably take a great deal of time before they reach $50K!

    Good ideas deserve financial retribution. A great example of this is Derek Sivers with CDBaby! He pioneered the idea of “Hey, lets cut the record labels (who more or less don’t give a shit about the music) out of this!” He started a business almost 20 years ago that made it possible for artists who may otherwise never get their CDs in the hands of people other than close friends and family find a global audience. He’s brought over $50 million to unsigned artists… and made over $1billion in the process!

    Ostensibly, Sell-A-Band is doing the same thing. They’ve created a vessel for independent artists to record a professional album with a professional producer and get it released without paying an arm & a leg out of their own pocket. By giving the fans a better opportunity to get involved (and offering them incentive to help promote the sale of your product) it makes it possible for guys like me who make under $30k a year from their day job have a shot at their dreams.

    Realistically, isn’t this exactly what a label does? I mean, when was the last time you heard of a band being signed to a label that hasn’t already put out their own record, grew their own following of ‘believers’ without help from anyone but themselves and their music, and garnered a reasonable amount of success? Labels don’t develop artists anymore because it’s ‘Not a sound investment’.

    Doesn’t sound like the behavior of someone who is passionate about music to me! I applaud SAB for their cause. If they get rich from it, they deserve it!

  14. June 26, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    Hey Iceman… not many people are agreeing with your viewpoint here are they? I am afraid I am going to disagree with you as well…

    I manage Electric Eel Shock the latest artist to raise $50k on SellaBand…
    Prior to signing up with SellaBand EES have released 3 albums through labels large and small (Roadrunner, Gearhead, Bitzcore etc)
    They have toured 30 countries around the world and have done nearly 1000 gigs…

    We also successfully raised money through our fans in the past…

    SellaBand provide us a sustainable structure that we can not only raise money but we can also enjoy all the advantages of being an independent artisat – but with the help of a larger organisation who can put together deals to help us compete with artists on traditional labels. (We could not get the deal direct with Amazon that Sellaband have in place.)
    I think what SellaBand take measures up very well to what they do to help artists and I am perfectly happy with the terms and conditions…

    I have worked with a lot of people and companies in the music industry and I find SellaBand to be amongst the most open and honest….
    Johan is not an arogant man – his post is admitting they are still working on getting the concept right and in the meantime it is up to you what you decide…

    Maybe you should consider editing your post a little more?!

  15. 15 Thor
    June 26, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    Sellaband is based on the principle that believers who “buy” parts in an artist will get a limited edition CD per part after the 50.000$ is reached.
    If an artist like Uro doesn’t want to produce “real” physical CDs and thinks that download or streaming is the future of music distribution, then Sellaband is definitely nothing for him. Simple and easy. I wonder why he is expecting that these base principles are negotiable at all. And what is arrogant if his demands, which are contrary to all the principles, are refused in a polite answer?

    For example, I cannot go to a car shop, saying: “Oh, this car is to expensive, I only want to pay 30%, but I’m bringing my own engine, so it should be cheaper. And why does it have four wheels, two wheels would be enough for me, so please change the car into a motorbike and I’ll buy it”. I would simply go to a motorbike shop, or find a garage which could construct the vehicle I desire, or try to build it all on my own…

  16. June 26, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Oh I should also add a response to your jibe that SellaBand don’t invest anything in artists – I agree there is no direct investment from SellaBand (apart from their time, expertise etc) but I think this is what makes them interesting and removes a fundamental problem of the traditional music industry:
    As soon as a label invests money in an artist then they have a say in what that artist does…
    With SellaBand artists retain their independence…

    All you are moaning about is the price they have to pay for that service…
    I see it is very good value for money.
    Hopefully you can start to see the merits in the concept as well…

  17. June 26, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Xander: I suppose you make a SOUND point, even if you’re kind of side-stepping the issues I keep raising. Again, I never said they were shady in terms of full disclosure. And I DO think they’re arrogant, but that’s based on the response from their CEO (as I quoted above). Of course, like you say, artists are free to use or not to use them, based on their own initiative, just as I’m free to express my opinions about the company, their business model, and their method of dealing with customers. They could do better, they just don’t seem to care enough to try.

    Thor: You’re not wrong, but again, that’s another argument for the INVESTOR. But looking at it the same way, each part of an auto IS worth money indiviudally, so I just feel that if an artist is going to put in the work to publicize SAB, they should get SOMETHING out of it. And obviously Uro didn’t find the answer to be polite. Neither did I. i actually found it to be dismissive. But that’s my opinion.

    Bob: Just because not a lot of people seem to be agreeing with me at the moment, doesn’t mean that I’m incorrect. As for your response about me “moaning”, that’s all well and good, but again, what about the central issues I raised? Control of masters and portions of publishing go to SAB, so I don’t see how that equates to “independence” and control. And as for editing the post, thanks, but no thanks. I edited out the part about them being thieves because the judgment is still out on that. But again, if you or your artists put in all this work to publicize their site, shouldn’t you be getting rewarded for it even if you fall short of that $50,000 goal? That’s what I’m arguing for, so I’m not sure I understand the reason for your anger or sarcasm, man.

    Bench: I’m glad you brought up CD Baby, because the most glaring difference there is that Derek doesn’t ask anyone to give up portions of their publishing or ownership of their masters. CD Baby is also very open to suggestions from members, which SAB is obviously not. Derek Sivers has always made adjustments for the better of artists, and to the best of my knowledge, he’s never responded with “if you don’t like it, better luck elsewhere”. He always seems to be open to dialogue about how to make CD Baby better. I think SAB is more comparable to companies like Sno-Cap and Burnlounge, and you see what happened with them!

    As far as major labels, hey you should KNOW how I feel about them. Most major labels are greedy, arrogant, and out of touch with the artists and their fan base. CD Baby is an excellent alternative to the major label route. But Sellaband, taking control of masters and portions of publishing, seems to be a lot closer to the major label way of thinking. For one thing, I think the artist should be rewarded for PARTIAL success in their fundraising efforts, even if they fail to reach the $50,000 goal.

    I mean, I’m all for capitalism, but if an artist puts in tons of work to recruit new members to SAB (which is really what SAB wants), then the artists should be rewarded in some form. I mean, hey, Sellaband gains in ad revenues from the increased exposure, right? Disclosure notwithstanding, if SAB wants to attract more artists, they should try to be receptive to different points of view. If not, then the flaws in their business model will result in a lot of wasted time on the part of artists. not to mention shattered dreams. They don’t deserve to get rich from that.

    Okay, enough about Sellaband. I’m closing this one up, because I honestly don’t want to give them anymore attention than they already have. Time will tell if I’m right or wrong, but I still advise artists to steer clear. Thanks for the posts, guys!

  18. 18 Sisko
    June 27, 2008 at 8:39 am

    You keep saying it’s so bad that they have ownership of the master for 1year! But large record companies usually have ownership for life, so i see this as a good thing. It’s also for protection of the investors so they have a chance of getting their investment back(if you don’t find that a good reason, you probably don’t deserve investors).
    That cd-baby doesn’t have any ownership is simply because they only allow the artists to sell their cd’s they made themselves (did you know btw that sellaband and cd-baby work together, as in sellaband albums are for sale at cd-baby?)

  19. June 27, 2008 at 10:01 am

    I see the spin doctors are still in the building.

    Actually, what I KEEP SAYING is that protection of investors is great, but how does Sellaband owning masters protect the ARTISTS? See, what I think people are misunderstanding is that I’m writing it from an artists point of view, not that of an investor.

    “Deserve investors”? An investment is a business transaction that’s done for the good of all parties involved. Artists “deserve” investors about as much as investors “deserve” the right to invest in any given artist. Privilege has nothing to do with it.

    As far as any financial transaction goes, all parties concerned should of course, retain legal counsel. That’s the best method of protection for all concerned.

    And saying that SAB works with CD Baby? Hey, so did SnoCap, and you see how that turned out.

  20. June 27, 2008 at 10:03 am

    Ironically, I’m not even focused on this post too much anymore. The industry as a whole needs to be examined and scrutinized from time to time. The best business models will flourish, and the faultier ones will fail. As it should be.

    If SAB has a TRULY sound business model, then they will succeed, regardless of what I say about it, right?

  21. 21 Pieps
    June 27, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    The big problem with Sellaband is that the management is about the worst filth you can imagine … every breath they take contains a lie . A lot of Artists and Believers already left Sellaband , and it looks like this will be an on-going thing . The main reason people are leaving is that they are sick being lied to .
    People like Xander and Bob Slayer also belief that the earth is as flat as a pancake 😛 .

    HAVE FUN !!! yours Pieps

  22. June 27, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    If you can’t see that tone of this response is not hardly respectful then you surely have issues.

    Thank you for showing interest in SellaBand.
    You may be right that there are still some flaws in our concept and that certain aspects need to be tweaked. However, the answer lies not in the points you raise and we see no reason to meet your demands. You can sign up to SellaBand and agree with the current T&C, or feel free to try your luck elsewhere.

    Best regards,
    Johan Vosmeijer

    That’s just plain shitty. It’s not respectful professional response. It is very arrogant to say the least. Even if i was a person that supported this company I’d have issues with that response it negates what their supposed purpose is.

  23. 23 Pieps
    June 27, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    @ Conscious

    Johan Vosmeijer actualy can’t help it ; he is a sick man that suffers from a narcistic personality disorder . Other people claim that the Sellaband staff is autistic … but I think my diagnosis fits better 😉 .

    HAVE FUN !!! yours Pieps 🙂

  24. 24 Kat
    June 28, 2008 at 8:27 am

    I have to agree with Conscious. Despite whether or not the points of this blog are valid, Johan’s response is unacceptable for a CEO and only fuels a fire. It seems there should be valid concern about a company where its leader responds in such a disrespectful, defensive manner.

  25. June 29, 2008 at 10:42 am

    Pieps: That line about the earth being flat as a pancake was funny! Anyway, yeah, as far as the management at SAB goes, at the very least, they seem to me to be defensive and unresponsive to the desires of their clients (artists, not investors). I mean, If the artists are the ones bringing new Believers into the fold, and increasing SAB’s traffic in the process, aren’t they entitled to a little more consideration? I mean, without the artists’ content, where would SAB be?

    Conscious: Exactly my point. As artists, we shouldn’t just blindly support every new company that comes along claiming to be the next big thing. I have nothing against a company making money while they’re helping artists, but a LOT of these companies are ONLY in business to exploit artists, and that’s what I think Sellaband is all about.

    Kat: Exactly. Whether or not you agree with some of my points (which are my COMMENTARY, not STATED FACTS), the main reason I wrote this post in the first place is because of their CEO’s abrasive response. That alone should be enough to make people look very closely before choosing to get involved with SAB. At the very least, I think the CEO got pretty impulsive there, and you’d think he’d know better.

  26. 26 Pieps
    June 30, 2008 at 3:17 am

    Hi Peeps ,

    let me tell you a little bit more about Sellaband . I’ve been on Sellaband with my music from March 2007 till ecember 2007 , when I got kicked off . The reason I got kicked of was , because of mailing one of Sellabands busseniss partners that the Sellaband staff was not answering questions , and full of shit .
    I’ve heard about a year , a lot of promises ( = lies ) , and Sellaband kept none . I remember the discussions on the forum about the publishing rights … Sellaband claims 30% for life … and they promised that they would do promo , in change for it . So far nobody have seen any promo .
    So far , the busseniss plan is changing about every few months , and the results are zero . An Artist that made a Sellaband CD sells average 30 CD’s a month . WOW !!! 30 copies !!! Think of it : Believers brought together $50.000 and there is $300 coming back every month … split trough 3 makes $100 . So that means that the Believers will have their money back in only 41 years .
    With these figures , I think we don’t even have to discuss Sellaband ; it’s a complete fiasco … caused because of greed .
    Very sad … because it could have worked … if the Believers were granted a bigger share in the sales , and a share in the publishing rights , it could have been an atractive busseness model / investment . And there are a few very good CD’s recorded for Sellaband … but nobody will hear them , because nobody knows .
    It’s all a very sad story , and I think both Sellaband Atrists and Believers deserve better .

    HAVE FUN !!! yours Pieps

  27. June 30, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Yeah, I absolutely agree that the business model could be great, if it was executed properly. My main concern is that SAB isn’t executing properly at all, as your (and Uro’s) experiences would suggest.

    The thing that seems to be the most frustrating is that they either don’t respond at all when you have a concern/suggestion, or they get defensive.

    I personally would LOVE to challenge someone at the higher levels of SAB to send me an email telling me why I’m wrong about them!

  28. July 1, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    Iceman: I understand your concerns, but I really think you’re wrong. When I first read Uro’s mail I got pissed off. I mean, who’s being arrogant here? SAB has a business, they’re practicing it, with their rules. Uro goes to them and almost demand “hey, you’re going to do a completely different business than the one you’re used to do, with me, with my conditions, or else you’re proving that your business model sucks and you’ll have to close your doors”. WTF? Uro doesn’t even want to record a physical album, he wants to make a digital album! SAB state everywhere on their site: “artists: come here, get believers, record a CD and make some money”. He goes there and doesn’t even want a CD! It’s like going to a bookstore and asking for an ice cream, and then being irate because they don’t sell ice creams there.

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