Public Enemy a Public Friend?

11 11 2010

Public Enemy’s fundraising initiative for their new album has paid off with $75K being available for the group’s recording the new album. The new album will follow previous album titled “How You Sell Soul To A Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul“. Who sold their soul exactly?

Fundraising has never been so easy with technology that facilitates donations and social media that publicises a fundraising effort to likeminded folks. The technology (Sellaband) is not a generic fundraising portal like so many others, but specifically one developed for muso’s who want (or are forced) to develop their music outside of the influence of a record label.

Sellaband’s been around since 2005, and while more than 30 artists have already raised their budgets, Public Enemy are the first ‘big name’ and so apparently worthy of a bit of media attention. Their goal was initially $200K but was dropped after a slow take-off, presumably the boys will have to drink a little less Krystal in the studio, and so it’s not quite the triumph that’s being lauded even if $75K is the most ever donated via this site.

I like the idea of freedom for creativity outside the ‘normal’ structures of the record label vs band relationship, but this feels a little off to me.

I don’t see ‘all power to the fans‘ as the news article on the Sellaband site says – they might get free merch but have no say in the creative process.

Plus, the tone of the media release feels off. It finishes with a flourish of ‘Time to party like a rockstar‘ but this conflicts with the donation aspect of the album – people aren’t paying for the excesses the music industry is famous for, they’re paying for the finished product. A little deeper Public Enemy’s past clashes with this new altruistic bent – what with owning an online music label themselves and making statements like ‘You don’t sell soul to a soulless people who sold their soul. You have to give it to themas reported 3 short years ago.

Those are a couple of reasons why I’m suspicious. Feels more like a publicity stunt than anything else… Big ups to the 1 178 fans though. That’s an average of $63 a fan. I hope they get a return on their investment!

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