grey eye
ny times




Rock Group Finds a New Way to Sell Out


Here is some investment advice you will not hear on CNBC: put your money in a rock group.

Dozens of people have done just that, buying shares in an unusual band-and-fan venture started by the Philadelphia music group, Grey Eye Glances. Through a private offering, the "adult alternative" band raised several hundred thousand dollars to start the Grey Album, a company responsible for producing, manufacturing and promoting Grey Eye Glances' seventh album, "A Little Voodoo." Rykodisc will distribute the new CD.

The band's financing innovation comes as the big labels in the consolidated music industry, battling consumer malaise and the upheaval of online music distribution, increasingly shy away from acts that cannot sell at least 500,000 copies of an altbum. For bands without obvious mass appeal, strategies like Grey Eye Glances' "may be part of the future," said Jack Emerson, co-owner with the singer-songwriter Steve Earle of E Squared Records. "I don't think it's that different from making a movie where you've got outside investors."

The band's bassist, Eric O'Dell, a Bucknell University economics major who spent six years with a Wall Street firm, said the new company attracted more money than Grey Eye Glances had available to it during a two-album stint in the late 1990's with Mercury Records.

Potential investors were allowed to hear demos of "A Little Voodoo." The company prospectus even included a clause to prevent the band from succumbing to music industry excesses. "Some of these investors are like, `Well, what if you go nuts? What if this goes to your head and you just start spending money like Elton John, $200,000 on an outfit?' " Mr. O'Dell said.

If Grey Eye Glances finds success beyond its traditional fan-base in the Northeast and Midwest, investors could make more than just their money back. Members of the company jointly own the mechanical copyright on "A Little Voodoo." Revenue will come from CD sales and licensing of the music to, for example, television or film projects.

Most of the company's 40 members who each could invest up to $20,000 are fans. For some, the novelty of the project holds more appeal than its economic promise.

"It's a way for me and the other people who are part of this to really feel like they're a part of the band, part of their music," said Bob Smyth of West Milford, N.J., a corporate travel manager with Gant Travel Management.

Even before investing, Mr. Smyth hired the band to play at company parties. Now he hopes the group's popularity will spread.

"I would hope that even if I weren't invested," he said. "Now that I have a little piece of the action, I'm there. I'm pretty much walking around with a sandwich board."

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