The first half of 2013 was spent doing a crowd funding campaign. We got many musicians and bands involved with the crowd funding, but musicians need to put most of their attention towards their own careers. I had hopes of getting file sharers involved, but that didn't happen, and the fact that it didn't happen helped me to understand that we needed to position ourselves differently.
If Safe-Xchange is a normal for-profit company, there are major difficulties in appealing to file sharers and artists, not just for crowd funding but, over the long run, for downloading and sharing. As a for-profit company, Safe-Xchange looks like just any other company trying to make money from artists. The weak results from crowd funding persuaded me to spend a lot of time investigating other approaches, including becoming a non-profit or a cooperative.
Finally someone brought my attention to benefit corporations, often called B corps. B corps, rather than having the single goal of making a profit for their shareholders, have two goals. One is to make a profit for shareholders, but the other is to do something that is in the public benefit. That's exactly what Safe-Xchange is. Yes, we want to make money, but the goal of connecting artists with file sharers (and making sure artists get paid for their work) is equally important.
Becoming a B corp will make it easier to raise money from investors who want to make money but also have an interest in helping artists. I'm working on a revised business plan. Early in 2014 we will be looking for seed and angel investors who are interested in both making money and helping artists. That's been the key all along. It took the unsuccessful crowd funding to make that clear.
Over the last year I have worked on our connections with people who are involved with the file sharing community. That is critical. As a B corp we will have much more credibility with file sharers. I found a partner I am working with who will be responsible for much of the technology. It has been a long road getting here, but I think we are on the right path.
30 years ago, when I stopped playing professionally, it was hard to make a living playing music. It has gotten harder. The record industry blames file sharers, but the major record labels are causing many of the problems. New inventions change the world, and one of my passions is finding ways to use the internet to help musicians, not hinder them.
2014 looks like it may be a very good year for Safe-Xchange.