Sunday, December 9, 2012

Zappa's "Roxy By Proxy" Promotion

Frank Zappa image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
I love Frank Zappa and spent a fair amount of time with him when he was alive (check out my Black Page and Waldorf Astoria stories if you're interested). Frank's family has been valiantly trying to keep his name alive since his passing, and son Dweezil has done a great job evangelizing his music with his Zappa Plays Zappa tours. Then came the Roxy By Proxy promotion.

The Zappa Project/Object of your Dreams: Roxy By Proxy! is the Zappa Family Trust's effort to raise at least a million dollars to fund the making of a film of Frank's 1973 performance at The Roxy in Hollywood. In order to do that, they're offering 1000 fans the right to become official "CD distributors." That means you pay a license fee of $1,000, receive a duplication master, and then have the right to manufacture and sell as many CDs as you wish, although you still have to pay a royalty of $1.20 on each one that you sell.

I love the idea of thinking outside the box here, and this is almost a clever way to do it, but the whole idea of being a "distributor" just doesn't cut it, in my opinion. First of all, if you "the distributor" expect to make money when you're competing with 999 other distributors, sorry, but it's never going to happen. I'm sure that Zappa fans still purchase CDs, but there's just not enough of them of them out there, especially when your competition is undercutting your price just so they can make their investment back.

What would have been better is if the Trust just came clean and said, "We're trying to raise money to fund a film that we know you want to see. Contribute and we'll send you an exclusive CD, and we'll even give you the right to give to your friends if you want." At least that feels a little more based in reality. After all, we see this same approach hundreds of times a day on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. In fact, if they would've gone more towards the crowdfunding route, they might have added a few more tiers where they could've actually surpassed the amount they're looking for.

I understand that the Trust feels that they don't need to go to a crowdfunding site and pay them their cut since they already have a rabid fan base that they can readily access, but this whole issue of leading a potential donator into thinking that they might be able to duplicate and sell some CDs and make their money back is probably misplaced.

That said, I sincerely hope that they raise the funding to get the movie made. Can't wait to see it myself.

What do you think?


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Jef Knight said...

Ya, I thought the same thing. I don't want to be a distributor, but I would have participated in a crowdsourcing effort.


Antal Adriaanse said...

it's a daft plan. not only would one have to compete with 999 other distributors AND the zft. for all participants to break even at least 200,000 copies would need to find their way to buyers. considering that sales of recent zft releases are around the 10,000-15,000 number, chances of the non-exclusive roxy cd getting even close to 200,000 copies are slim.

makes you wonder what universal feels about this new plan.

and... not so long ago the zft claimed that work on the roxy film was close to finished. and... estimated costs of editing of the already digitized footage were in the tens of thousands of dollars, not in the hundreds of thousands. and... i know there were fans with professional video editing skills willing to do it for close to free. and... a million dollars for the roxy video/film? is there such a huge market for the roxy film?


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