Although I don’t like dwelling on past mistakes or failures (especially because failure doesn’t exist), there is always something that can be learned from them. I get a lot of requests for information about mistakes or failed projects from my past. They are a plenty!
The reason for that is simple: when I have an idea I believe in, I go for it.
If I believe in something I do whatever I can to take swift action. It’s important when we have an idea we’re excited about to get the ball rolling quickly, because getting started is the most difficult part of any project. Once the ball’s rolling, momentum builds, and we’re more likely to see a project through to the end.
I have enough stories on mistakes, failures, and lessons learned to create a whole series. Depending on how this goes over, and how much I enjoy dwelling on the past for a bit, I will continue it regularly.
Part of the problem with past failures is I don’t have backups/notes with me so I’m relying on memory, Google, and archive.org for help.
The Failure: LaunchALabel.com
Unfortunately, I can’t get a screen shot of the site. Here’s the archive.org link. I spent about $2,000 on design and backend aspects of this project and it looked great.
I launched LaunchALabel.com in August of 2007.
The concept was: Get 50,000 music fans to each donate $25 to a new record label that they would control. They would choose the bands, the marketing, and decide where the money would go.
50,000 x $25 = $1,250,000.
The goal was to use $1 million to sign bands and $250k to run the actual label (Just Paypal fees on the donations would’ve amounted to ~$50k). The idea was to sign 5 bands, and allocate $200k to each of them for the purposes of recording/touring/marketing.
Here’s the copy from the home page of the site:
It’s Your Label. You Choose The Bands. We Make It Happen Together.
From: Karol Gajda
If you’ve ever thought you could run a record label better than the corporations who currently control our music industry then this may be the most important Web site you’ve ever visited.
Join 50,000 like-minded music fans who want to make history. As a community you will launch a brand new record label. The World’s first Social Record Label.
- You choose the first 5 bands the label signs to packages worth $200,000 PER band! These bands will be taken care of as they should be.
- You will receive a copy of each of the first 5 label releases. Based on iTunes costs that’s a $49.95 value.
- You choose the label’s name.
- You make the decisions on tours and everything else that goes into launching and running a successful record label.
This Is Your Label.
Nobody can sway your decisions. Not me. Not any music industry “big wigs.” Nobody.
Once 50,000 music fans join for free each will be sent an official invitation to LaunchALabel.com and be asked to make a $25 donation to raise the necessary cash to rock the music industry.
From there you will start voting on label names and the first band to sign to your label.
To learn more check out our How It Works and FAQ sections.
Or click here now to join our music revolution.
Karol Gajda (that’s Carl not Carol)
Was it incredibly ambitious?
Could it have worked?
Did it work?
I sent out press releases, I e-mailed bloggers, I e-mailed friends, I did everything I could think of … it all resulted in ~300 free signups after a couple of months.
I did get a write-up at CMJ.com, which was pretty cool. But it was a tiny write-up and it resulted in no traffic. :)
Why It Didn’t Work
I knew going in it would be an uphill battle due to one word: skepticism.
I got a lot of e-mails from people thinking I was just going to take the money and run. Unfortunately, I didn’t know what to do to overcome this at the time.
What Should I Have Done Differently?
In other words, what should I have done to overcome skepticism and establish trust?
The obvious choice would have been to partner with someone who had a public profile.
I could have offered a nice chunk of money raised, maybe $10k-$50k, to either a celebrity or someone already well known in the music industry to join in on the project.
This would have given me instant credibility and more opportunities for press.
I honestly believe this project could have worked. And I actually believe something similar could work well today. I’ve often thought about revamping the idea a little (100 people each donating $1,000 to sign just 1 or 2 bands).
That said, other sites have sprung up that totally blew my idea out of the water.
KickStarter has proven that crowd-funding for artists and entrepreneurs works like gangbusters.
I’ve helped fund 3 projects so far. 2 of them musical acts.
You can following my KickStarter here if you’d like.
How Would You Have Made LaunchALabel.com A Success?
Do you have any ideas on how this project could have worked out successfully? Let’s brainstorm in the comments.
Additional Questions For You
- Do more of these kinds of articles interest you? Would you like me to create a Mistakes and Failures series? In this article I focused on one major mistake I made, but there were others as well. Do you want me to go into more detail on the mistakes?
- Do you have any stories of failed projects where you learned a thing or two? Give us a brief synopsis of the project and tell us what you learned …