RocketHub: For Creatives, By Creatives

Written by June 22nd, 2010 at 5:42 pm

(At left: Vladimir Vukicevic, co-founder of Rockethub.com, where recording artist Alfonso Velez, right, has a fundraiser for a new album)

Crowdfunding just might be the new record deal. Based on crowd participation, this renaissance style of fundraising has been a great boon for one singer/songwriter, Alfonso Velez. In this day and age, where big record companies are like sinking ships, and music piracy is costing the industry billions each year, many musicians face what seems now as an impossible challenge of getting a record deal. For Velez, this was only a temporary deterrent.

RocketHub.com is a new website designed for creative types— its focus on grassroots campaigning through fans. Founded by self-made artists Jed Cohen, actor Brian Meece, and musician and writer Vlad Vukicevic, RocketHub was their initiative to transform the personal challenges that arise from being an artist, into success stories of living the dream.

Since the site’s launch in January, this team of “creative underdogs” has helped just shy of 50 musicians reach their goals. “We believe in a DIY-ethos that’s welcoming and supportive to all Creatives from around the world— that allows for the best to rise to the top,” Vukicevic said.

Among the best is Velez’s project, My Music is Your Music— the musician’s personal crusade to put out his album on his own, with a little help from his friends of course.

“This record was a once in a lifetime experience,” said Velez of the freshly laid tracks recorded in a 3,000 square foot dance hall in the Flatiron District of Manhattan. “I was really lucky to find these songs in the cosmos and record them with a very special group of people.”

Velez uploaded the album to Soundcloud.com and hoped for the best, but knew he had to take matters into his own hands in order to get his music out there. “On the behest of my friends, I started looking into funding it through fans and thought Rockethub.com was a wise choice,” he said. With RocketHub, Velez raised $1,000 in the first four days of his month-long campaign. “People that I haven’t heard from in years from all over the globe are pitching in generously,” he added. “It’s a riveting feeling to be so connected through music, to so many people out there— it’s also humbling.”

Velez reached out to his fans via email, telephone, Facebook, Myspace and face-to-face, confident in his ability to reach his goal of $6,500 by month’s end. The only catch with RocketHub however, is that if your goal is not met, everyone gets their money back— a gamble surely worth the effort. “Alfonso’s rewards build his brand, tell a story, and offer real value to folks who will join him on his journey,” Vukicevic said of the Velez’s unique campaign.

RocketHub boasts other success stories too, like that of Irish musician Niall Connolly, who raised $5,000 in 45 days, with over 100 contributions from all over the world. Connolly received international press coverage, using RocketHub as both a launch pad for publicity and as a buzz-generator for his new album.

While some musicians attempt to buy their popularity through social networking tactics, and others seem wary of jumping on the Twitter bandwagon, crowdfunding seems to be a solid, honest and true method for gaining exposure, in lieu of a record deal.

Recently, the team at RocketHub led a panel of music industry experts at New York Law School to discuss the future of the business. They argued that the old model of the record label is becoming obsolete. “We believe that crowdfunding represents the new path for funding the creation, distribution, and promotion of music,” said Vukicevic.

Why Choose RocketHub?

1. It costs less to make good music. A musician or band of musicians can now record an album for a budget of around $3,000 to $10,000 – including a high production value and overall quality.

2. The average crowdfunding contribution is not limited. CDs used to be the primary method for musicians to make money – at an average price of around $10 a pop. Now musicians can offer products (CDs, T-Shirts, etc.), services (lessons, etc.), and experiences (lunches, live shows, etc.) — at RocketHub the average contribution is around $50. That means that a new album can be funded by only 50 to 200 fans.

3. Social networking makes reaching friends, fans, and family easy. It used to take days and a lot of money (in postage fees) to reach thousands of fans. Now it takes minutes and it is virtually free.

4. Online payments remove friction. Cash is clunky. Checks are slow. Credit cards require infrastructure. Online payments are easy and can be virtually instantaneous (thank you PayPal).”

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