MyBandStock.com aims to help local groups make it big
Thanks to MyBandStock.com, an Ann Arbor Web-based company that hopes to go national, fans can invest money in several area groups — perhaps to record an album or produce a video — in return earning non-monetary dividends down the road that could include band merchandise, backstage passes, concert tickets and music downloads.
They call it “The Music Revolution.”
The thinking behind MyBandStock is one of support now, payoff later — not unlike the stock market, but with one big difference. If the band breaks up or fails to live up to its potential, investors can get their money back.
“There’s no real risk beyond you might be a little let down,” said Drew Leahy, 21, University of Michigan student and the web site’s co-founder and president.
The thinking behind MyBandStock is this, he explained: “Let’s bring these artists and these fans down in the exact same spot, and reward each other for being in each others’ lives and for contributing directly. When we work with artists that’s the first thing we say — you’re doing something very new, revolutionary, because you’re giving back to the people who are supporting you right now. Three years from now when you’ve gotten farther in your career as an artist, you’re going to give back to those people for getting you to where you are.”
The cost is $1 per share and can be purchased on the web site. MyBandStock makes money by retaining 15-30 percent of the investment based on the marketing it does for an artist. So far, eight bands have signed up, and over 800 shares have been sold. Bands include My Dear Disco (110 shares according to recent figures on the Web site), Souldub (160 shares), The Summer Highlight (100 shares) and Farewell Republic (90 shares). Solo performer Charlene Kaye has 135 shares to her credit.
Leahy said MyBandStock is also in negotiations with some bigger, perhaps nationally known names that he hopes will help the company’s visibility.
The project had its genesis on a California beach in 2007 when Leahy and his pal Kevin Pritchard got to wondering “what if you could buy stock in a band?” They enlisted the support of Evan Frankfort of Would Work Sound, Leahy’s employer at the time. Frankfort, seeing the idea’s potential, brought friend and producer Robb Vallier on board and the four began putting together MyBandStock.com.
The company is one of several start-ups operating in a student incubator space called TechArb, located in a small corner of the lower level of the Liberty Square parking structure, once home to the failed Tally Hall mall. About 15 people are working on the project. All the bands on MyBandStock at this point are based in Michigan.
Initial revenues have been small, Leahy acknowledges, but the potential is big.
“We’re currently working with a small number of artists to create a success story, we're being very patient. Finding the right artist to pioneer this new concept and attitude will be key to proving the concept and getting our business model to the next level,” he said.
Now a senior majoring in music technology at the U-M, Leahy expects to graduate in April with “the goal is that the company is full tilt for me and all the rest of us.
“No more school,” he vowed.
Jake Denyer, lead vocalist for the Detroit-area pop/punk band The Summer Highlight, said the band teamed up with MyBandStock “because we found it was a great concept for our fans to directly support us in anything we needed. It basically puts our future in their hands so to speak, which is great. “We have raised $100 toward our goal of $1,600, but its still early and we have a lot of promotion to do still,” he added. The band plans to use the funds to pay for time in a recording studio.
Closer to home, Tyler Duncan of Ann Arbor’s My Dear Disco, one of the first bands on MyBandStock, said that although the group has sold 110 shares, meaning $110, he’s not discouraged.
My Dear Disco, which has been on the road almost constantly the past few months and recently played several gigs in Alaska, is hoping to raise $4,000 to help pay for recording new material. Those who contribute will get an insight into the recording process, Duncan said, with the perks that could include exclusive versions of demo recordings and video documentation.
“They can hear the songs, [see] how they evolve and get an insight into the process,” he added.
As far as he’s concerned, MyBandStock’s potential is unlimited.
“It could be huge,” Duncan said.
Most recently, MyBandStock has branched out into live music presentation. The company and BTB Burrito Cantina have just started "Music on South U," a weekly concert series. BTB, at 1140 South University in Ann Arbor, will act as host; slated for 9 p.m this Friday, Oct. 23, is the band Flatfoot.
For more information on Music on South U and an updated performance schedule, visit the Music on South U web site.
Roger LeLievre is a free-lance writer who covers music for AnnArbor.com.