Taking on the Music Industry

Morton Valence

Back in March, David Emery wrote about different models of making and releasing albums, such as Radiohead’s pay-want-you-want model and the Raconteurs’ release-before-the-hype approach. A hitherto unsigned band, Morton Valence is taking another tack. Morton Valence are raising money to record and release an album by selling percentages of the album to individual investors. From their website:

In return, not only will an investor own a percentage of our album and reap the financial rewards of any potential success, but significantly too, they will be a part of a pioneering new spirit in a revitalised music industry.

The band are going into this properly, with a formal proposal, legally binding contracts and independently audited accounts. A minimum investment (‘loan’) of £300 buys 0.75% of the net income from the album which, despite being a risk, seems like a pretty decent return to me. The album would need to sell 10,000 copies for investors to start making a profit on the band’s success. The proposal has this to say:

By becoming an investor, you will be participating in the first project of this kind, celebrating a new artistic autonomy from the moribund structures of the music industry and a direct link between artists and audience.

[...] As the sands shift, there is a changing of the guards and a new type of industry is emerging. This new industry is artist driven, and no longer controlled by a few grizzly lawyers and A&R executives. Artists are taking control of their music and putting UK talent back where it rightly belongs.

But what about the music? I rather like them – you make up your own mind on Last.fm and MySpace. I saw Morton Valence supporting British Sea Power (designed by the afore-mentioned David Emery) four years ago, and I had this to say:

It would be utterly remiss of me not mention the first support act, Morton Valence. Sounding a little like the Postal Service spiced up with trumpet and bouts of frustrated noise, they’ve got the quirkiness and the looks to be noticed.

Morton Valence certainly stuck in my mind. They hit a note with the more general public recently too, having just been voted record of the week on BBC Radio 2’s Radcliffe and Maconie show. So as you might have guessed, I may be well be stumping up £300. It might just be a very expensive way of getting a signed album (a perk of investing), or it might prove to be a nice little earner and a little kick in the teeth to big music biz. Time will tell.