The Race - Take a stake in a band

Bill Cummings 17/11/2008

The music industry is in a state of flux, the major labels are haemorrhaging acts and jobs at a increasing rate, some record sales are down, and the digital download is taking over. Yet some acts are realising that now more than ever they have the chance to determine the methods of distributing, funding and promoting their music to their fans, in the coming months we shall look at a few, who are using increasingly ingeneous ways to get themselves heard.

Hailing from Reading and with a reputation for Epic, Heart on their sleeves guitar noise band The Race are one act determined to spread the word organically, from the bottom up, funding their new record through a stakeholder scheme where fans who in invest in it will share the proceeds.Plus they've been spreading their music using viral sample copies of their album on CD, and playing in people's houses, gyms, offices anywhere their stakeholders desire!

The Race's vocalist Dan Buchanan told me more 'its a plan whereby we get the album funded at the level we think it deserves and people get to join us in sharing in its profits for the next five years, hopefully the shared ownership of it all will help in its promotion through word of mouth and perhaps contacts in a similar way to the Pass It On campaign.' From pop stars to family members everyone got in on the act 'We have some very interesting stakeholders,some of them quite celebrated, others are alot closer to home/earth like my sister.'


Their label Shifty Disco came up with the idea, one of Shifty crew, Dave takes us through the process the idea in a little more depth;

'The thinking behind the In My Head It Works Stakeholder Fund is to create a pull-down resource to fund the recording, mixing, mastering, manufacturing and marketing of the next The Race album. Based on the costs of the debut album, “Be Your Alibi”, we estimated that a fund of 25,000 would guarantee a full campaign encompassing the album release plus two promotional singles.

The Stakeholder Fund consists of 1000 25 stakeholder units. Each stakeholder unit will be a 5-year loan to Shifty Disco with repayment (and profit) paid back to the Fund based on a fixed commission rate on album sales around the world during this 5 year period. Repayment and profits will be distributed bi-annually. The funds stay in the Stakeholder Fund bank account and are transferred to Shifty Disco as needed.

The most innovative part of this plan, perhaps, is that we're not intending to raise all 25,000 in cash. A significant portion of the Fund will be raised in "kind" with those attached to the release (band, publishers, press team, radio/TV plugger, distributor, producer, mastering engineer, artwork designer, video director,) encouraged to trade-up part (or all) of their fees for Stakeholder Units - literally giving them a vested interest in the success of the album'.

The Race's DIY efforts weren't just limited to the funding of their new record, taking matters into their own hands they usurped the bloggers by issuing a hundred cds with five album tracks on it, and urged the listeners to pass them on to other interested people. In the hope that a bit like Jamie's 'Ministry of food' but with music, the word would spread. Dan explains:


'We finished recording our second album IN MY HEAD IT WORKS in May, as we'd been out of the loop in the UK for about a year we were really excited by people hearing it and not just through the usual (often a little lazy) way of just sticking some songs on the internet. We made 100 little brown packages which contained a cd with 5 of the album tracks on it. We numbered them 1-100 and sprayed 'PASS IT ON' on the front and attached a label to the back which said, ' I passed it on to; who,when,why (a bit like a library book sticker). The instructions was to have a listen and then pass it on to someone you think might like it as well as someone you trusted to pass it on and not just keep it or copy it. We gave out the first 100 largely by hand over the course of about a week. Since then people have been writing in to our website to say where they are and who they are passing them on to. They are currently all over the world and totally out of our hands/control. Its been fun.'

The band headout on a unique Winter tour, that capitalises on their stakeholders by playing gigs for them quite literally wherever they want! With interesting results:

'We currently have around 150 different stakeholders in this album (with space for more). Rather then always expecting people to travel to our gigs we have offered to come and play a free gig wherever they want us to, all they have to do is give us a sandwich on arrival and then introduce their latest investment to their friends a little later on as we play a gig. We've asked the stakeholders to get thinking of places they might like us to play and so far we've had offers for gigs on a barge, in a windmill, a coffee shop, an ancient church, a gym, an office, Terminal 5 at Heathrow, someones lounge, a prison,a car park and a school. In a couple of weeks time we'll have a look at what we've got and then get cracking, it should keep us busy for the winter and we shall film it too.. We also have regular stakeholder meet ups, the last one was in a pub in London, the next one shall be in Andy's back garden for a bonfire and firework and beer evening, we also aim to partake in a little maggot racing and apple bobbing perhaps. We hope that there may even be weddings/romance that occur off the back of these gatherings.'

The Race's new single 'I Get It Wrong' is out now(video below).Their David Eringa produced album 'In My Head It Works' is due out in February.

With a shifting music industry is the future in more acts funding their own records, or asking fans to help out?Taking even more control of their future direction? How is the live music scene going to evolve since this is where most acts make any revenue at present?