Fan-financed record production has had its first success, with the signing of Bradford indie sextet Scars on 45 to major label Atlantic Records. The band raised the money for its first album through Slicethepie.com, an online music community where you act as A&R scouts and investor for new acts.
Slicethepie is a cross between a social network, a record label and a stock exchange, all focused on bringing fans, artists and cash together. Sign up and you become a 'scout'. Artists upload their music and you, and other scouts, review the music, for which you get paid. Good reviews lead to exposure for the artists, which attracts scouts to invest in them.
Once an artist raises £15,000, they have six months to deliver an album, from which Slicethepie and the investors take a cut. Artists end up with about £2.50 per album sold -- more than a record deal's royalties, and without a label's recoupable advance.
When a band you've invested in takes off, your investment rises in value. Investments can be traded on the site. Should a band be signed to a record label, you're automatically bought out at a premium. The Scars on 45 deal earns those investors who were in on the ground floor an 800 per cent return on their original investment.
Scars on 45 -- not to be confused with Australian rappers Scarz on 45 or disco plagiarists Stars on 45 -- make a heartswept, acoustic guitar-led jangle. They've toured with Starsailor, which says it all really. The deal is with Atlantic's partner Chop Shop Records, headed by soundtrack svengali Alexandra Patsavas, responsible for getting Scars song Beauty's Running Wild featured in CSI: New York. She also brought us Robert 'RPattz' Pattinson on the Twilight soundtrack. Cheers, love.
Web-based crowdsourcing and fan-financing is a top idea, but can struggle to maintain momentum. In 2008, football fans bought Kentish minnows Ebbsfleet United FC through MyFootballClub. Sadly, after initial success both in the accounts department and on the pitch, membership has ebbed and the entire first team has been laid off, with EUFC currently in a relegation battle in the Blue Square Premier. Let's hope neither the 'Fleet or the Scars end up dropped.