Rock Star Rising
If you're a believer in music, then Dutch entrepreneur Pim Betist has a few bands he'd like to sell to you.

Betist has created Sellaband , an innovative take on music promotion and investing.

In order to realize his dream, he convinced a music industry executive to quit his job and for them to build a company together.

Six months later, the company's Web site was launched on Aug. 15, 2006.

"I was tired of being offered the same music over and over," says Betist.

"As a music fan, I felt a shift in power was necessary to bring a breath of fresh air to the music industry. I decided to create a concept where fans can decide for themselves what they were going to hear. This way, artists can keep their artistic freedom, and music fans get the music they really believe in."

On Sellaband, artists and fans have one goal: to make music and a profit together.

Artists upload their music and profile, while fans and visitors can browse and offer support. With a $10 investment, fans become "believers" by buying a piece of an artist's future income on Sellaband.

Studio Art

Once an artist has reached the $50,000 goal, Sellaband uses the investment to record an album.

Sellaband provides bands and artists that reach this level with a professional studio, an experienced A&R (artist & repertoire) manager and a top producer. The resulting recording is then sent in the form of exclusive digipack CDs to the believers; at this point, both believers and musicians are in business together.

Sellaband then gives the recorded music away for free through the company's Web site. Revenue generated through online advertisements is split evenly between the artists, believers and Sellaband.

In addition, Sellaband currently has partnerships with Heineken ( HINKY) and Sony Music Studios, a huge benefit to artists; other strategic alliances are expected to be announced in 2007.

Enthusiastic Audience

Even music industry analysts and record producers are signing on with the company.

"Sellaband looks to be an exciting new base for unsigned acts to find their way to commercial release," says Jon Kelly, a producer who has worked with Kate Bush, Chris Rea and Tori Amos. "I am pleased to be involved, and I look forward to working with these artists in the future."

BassyBob, a Grammy Award winning producer who has worked with Santana, the Fugees and Christina Aguilera, says that Sellaband "is the cure for what ails the record business -- a breath of fresh air."

"When Pim first approached me with his idea of Sellaband, the whole concept just blew me away," recalls Johan Vosmeijer, Sellaband's managing director. "It appealed to me as a music-lover first and foremost. Being able to put my money where my mouth is is such a great thing."

Vosmeijer says that he had enough experience in the music industry to sense right away that Pim was onto something with his concept. "I opened my network for him and decided to share my industry knowledge," Vosmeijer says. "One month after we first met, I quit my job at Sony/BMG and started Sellaband with Pim."

After four months in business, Sellaband has close to 1,200 active bands, all with their own profile pages.

The site has over 6,000 registered believers, who have invested a total of over $250,000 in the listed artists. Over 60 different countries are represented through registered artists, while believers hail from over 75 different countries. The largest contingent of investors hails from the U.S., followed by the Netherlands (where Sellaband's headquarters is situated), France and the U.K.

On Nov. 2, 2006, just 13 weeks after signing up, Dutch rock band Nemesea was the first to raise the full $50,000 from believers to record an album. Current runner-up is U.S.-based Cubworld, at over $30,000. Three more artists are over $10,000 in investments.

Looking ahead, Sellaband will host its first-ever live concert on Jan. 7 at Amsterdam's famous Paradiso Club .

Presented by Heineken, this concert will feature live performances from the top four rated artists on Sellaband. In other words, the lineup was determined by believers' investments. Tickets for this event are not for sale; admission is available only for registered investors.

"Building this company has probably been the most challenging but also the most exciting thing I've ever done," says Vosmeijer. "Less than six months after our first meeting, Sellaband went live, and we haven't looked back since. We intend to keep growing as a company and to turn Sellaband into a relevant alternative for the existing music industry models."

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