Bands who end up on magazine covers love to talk about their humble beginnings.

Typically, it’s a romantic story about four young misfits who set up in the basement of the drummer’s parents’ house and drive the neighbors nuts as they experiment with their sound, write a few songs, play a few gigs and end up with hoards of loyal fans following them as they tour the country.

But it all comes to a halt one day when the van breaks down on the road and there’s no money left to fix it.

But what about the screaming fans? Couldn’t they have helped?

A group of guys here at the University think so.

A new Internet start-up from University students aims to help passionate music lovers support their favorite artists by pledging working capital to help finance projects like albums, tours and music videos.

The website,, enables users to buy $1 “shares” in a band. Investors are rewarded with various perks, like early CD releases, backstage passes and band T-shirts.

The company’s founders like to think of it as more of a movement than a business. As the digital world has changed the way people acquire and experience music, the Recording Industry Association of America and the traditional record labels it represents have come under fire for clinging to a business model many see as obsolete.

MyBandstock, like many other companies, hopes to fill the void with a new vision for the music industry — an industry that School of Music, Theatre & Dance junior Drew Leahy, the company’s president, called “an entrepreneurial playground.”

“Everyone is kind of scrambling around trying to figure out how to monetize the music industry,” Leahy said. “We feel that selling stock in a band is the best way for an artist to raise money from their fan base.”

The idea for MyBandstock was born two summers ago, when then-Michigan State University student Kevin Pritchard wondered aloud to Leahy what it would be like to buy stock in a band and speculate on its future.

Leahy said the two of them soon realized that, due to regulations, issuing actual securities with equity would be out of the question.

He mentioned the idea to Evan Frankfort, a California producer with whom Leahy was interning at Would Work Sound in Los Angeles, and it made a distinct impression.

“He was like ‘I can’t stop thinking about the idea,’ ” Leahy said. “He got his entertainment lawyer involved, and we just started writing up proposals and going after it.”

Pritchard, Leahy and Frankfort rounded up some others for graphic design, Web development, finance and marketing roles. They got their initial funding the same way many bands do.

“We bootstrapped,” he said. “There were 15 of us and we raised money for the website to basically get a living, working platform.”

The site, which Leahy estimates took over 2,000 hours of coding, designing and tinkering before it was ready, officially launched Jan. 15 of this year.

Along with Leahy, most of MyBandstock’s operations are overseen by Business junior Bobby Matson and Engineering senior John-Michael Fischer.

Leahy said the three of them make up “the vision, the business brain and the tech brain,” respectively.

For Matson, who began working with MyBandstock in January of last year, the experience has changed the context of his business school education.

He said a lot of people in the undergraduate business program “just take the classes to get the ‘A,’ and they focus on the GPA.”

“I think about how these concepts can help MyBandstock literally every day,” he said.

Matson was admitted to the Marcel Gani Internship, a program through the Zell Lurie Institute at the Business School that pays students to execute their own business plans during the summer.

Leahy and Matson said they plan on using this summer to expand the reach of the business. Primarily, they will focus on securing more band partnerships. Right now, there are only eight bands using the service, and not all of them have attracted investment in their shares.

The business is nowhere near profitable yet, but in time, the young entrepreneurs believe it will grow.

They would like to attract seed investment by the time they graduate next year, so that they can hire four to six full-time developers.

They said they’re confident that they can attract the capital they’re seeking if they can achieve the right amount of growth and stability. That means working long hours, Leahy said, “adding artists, marketing, getting out there.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *