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Creator and Artist Stories

Community-run music label DFTBA thrives

By Alan Lastufka and Hank Green

YouTube Community

In this post, we're turning the floor over to the proprietors of DFTBA, a community-owned and run record label whose moniker stands for "Don't Forget to be Awesome" (not too hard for these guys). On their label's second anniversary, they announce a significant milestone and predict a promising future.

Somehow in the last hundred years "musician" became a nearly impossible profession. The best of the best could get by, pouring their lives into touring or into other people's careers, watching most of their profits go to the record companies, agents, managers, bookers, distributors and others. Now, if you happen upon a song that catches on the radio, you get to sell that one song for sixty cents of profit, instead of a whole album for six dollars of profit. Good luck turning that into a check that could even pay for the production of your next album.

It's a testament to how much we humans love to create music that this didn't decrease the number of excellent musicians and songwriters. Few people write songs to make money; they do it because it's a wonderful experience.

Two years ago, when we here at DFTBA Records were watching wide-eyed as YouTube grew from WTF to OMG, we realized that there was a chance that this could change. We saw people making great music and posting it on YouTube, but still assuming that "musician" was an unattainable job for them. However, they were using online video to grow their audiences in new ways. And they were building audiences that, while not humongous, were extremely loyal.

We did some calculations and figured out that, if we could dramatically increase the amount of money artists make per CD they sell, and let our artists’ authenticity increase the listener-to-purchaser ratio, "musician" could suddenly be a real job for a lot of people.

Now, on our two-year anniversary, we’re happy to say that we've succeeded. DFTBA Records provides the services that this new crop of musicians needs. They're already geniuses at growing their audience, and they certainly don't need help writing fantastic songs. So while we handle the details, our artists are free to cultivate audiences in the thousands, tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands, while we make sure that as much of that payoff as possible goes to them. We're not trying to create Lady Gaga; we're trying to create professional musicians.

DFTBA Records is proud to announce that we have now sold a total of $1,000,000 in music and merchandise. We've sent orders to tens of thousands of satisfied customers. We've grown "DFTBA" into a brand that people want to be associated with and want to help spread, from DFTBA initialisms on T-shirts, to our URL shortener. We're both extremely proud to have helped people get a hold of this great music, and helped these musicians take their work to the next level. And we're looking forward to continuing to grow this new model.