The Dutch music site Sellaband was one of the pioneers of the crowdfunding model (think crowdsourcing, but with money instead of labor). I wrote about the company in the way back era of 2006. Essentially, Sellaband lets anyone capable of wielding a guitar (and many who can't) post a profile on its site, complete with images and music. Visitors to the site can invest in the band's future by buying shares at $10 a pop, becoming—in Sellaband parlance—"believers." Ideally the believers go out and spread the word, recruiting yet more believers. When the band raises $50,000, Sellaband takes them into the studio with a veteran producer and mixer, then presses a limited edition CD that get sent out to each believer. The band can then purchase additional CDs at cost, using them to sell at gigs, send to radio, etc.
I was somewhat dismissive of Sellaband when it first launched, but the site has done very well in the last two years. Hundreds of bands have posted their music and profiles, and 25 have reached the $50,000 target. A few have even garnered mainstream attention. Success always spawns imitation, and today's Guardian notes that a few music biz veterans have launched a strikingly similar effort, called—aptly—Bandstocks. I'd like to briefly chide the Guardian—normally one of my favorite papers—for failing to mention that Bandstocks' is a pretty naked attempt to capitalize on an existing model for financing musicians. Instead it gives Bandstocks the sui generis treatment. This despite the fact that the Guardian itself was one of the first mainstream outlets to write about Sellaband.
For any serious student of crowdsourcing, however, it's a useful read. While Bandstocks shares many attributes with Sellaband, the differences are revealing. I'll go out on a limb here and guess that Bandstocks founders studied Sellaband and decided to plug a few holes. I'll get into that later tonight when I return to this post, but I'm supposed to be on a stage at my book party in exactly 22 minutes, and have to run.