How can we get CD revenues anonymously?
April 20, 2008 10:53 PM   Subscribe

My buddies and I just finished recording a cd that we'd like to sell on iTunes and in stores but don't want our names attached to it in any way. How can we handle getting the profits in the cheapest way possible?

We recorded a cd that is not what we normally do, and don't want to have our names (group, individuals) attached to it in any way. We anticipate modest sales, if it's anything like other cd's we've done, and want to know what the best way is to get the money without there being any way for anyone to find out we did it.

We have created a name for the band, etc, which obviously is not the name of our band.

It seems like the obvious thing to do would be to create a corporation or get a lawyer to handle it, but we have no idea how to go about this, and don't want to blow our anticipated (modest) revenues on anything too expensive. All we need is a way to get the money from iTunes to our bank accounts. We'd rather not solve the problem by asking girlfriends or distant relations receive the money and forward it to us.

Anyone have any suggestions? Thanks!
posted by stewiethegreat to Work & Money (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
have you tried CD Baby's digital distribution? It costs a little, but you can use whatever band name you want to hid behind, and they certainly won't disclose your names behind it. That way you can distribute on several digital-media outlets. There's also Tune Core, and Song Cast. Both offer 'anonymous' services by masking users behind band names of their choosing.

Good luck!
posted by pedmands at 10:59 PM on April 20, 2008

If you don't want your names on the CD but don't mind having it turn up if someone takes the energy to look hard, then you can file the band name as an alias with your state under the rules for "doing business as" or dba. It is very cheap and once it is filed, you can get a checking account in that name.
posted by metahawk at 11:43 PM on April 20, 2008

Response by poster: Metahawk

Sorry, we'd rather that there be no way to tie us to the CD in that manner. Obviously unlikely that anyone would a) bother or b) care, but still, we'd rather thnot.
posted by stewiethegreat at 11:46 PM on April 20, 2008

Keep in mind that, sooner or later, taxes will need to be paid on the money from the sales, and some sort of entity has to exist which will be on the hook for those taxes. Which means that no matter how much indirection is involved, sooner or later it needs to trace back to you or else the IRS will be displeased.
posted by ubernostrum at 12:05 AM on April 21, 2008

I'm rabidly curious.. why so hell-bent on your names not being associated? Oh, and as ubernostrum says.. the IRS has to be able to find you, so yeah, you can't hide completely.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:59 AM on April 21, 2008

Most people probably use the doing business as method. Or they do it illegally, by hiring a front-person to receive the money etc.
posted by By The Grace of God at 5:33 AM on April 21, 2008

The only legal and cheap way that I can think of is to find a very good, trusted friend who does not mind having their name attached to the project. Their name will be on every form that is filled out, they will have legal rights to the music, and they will receive all of the revenue and then pass it on (minus a small percentage, if they so choose) to you. You will relinquish all rights and connections to the material, but still collect revenue. You could also sign a contract stating this arrangement (possibly with a non-disclosure rider of some sort) if you can't find that perfect friend who will go to bat for you on this.
posted by googly at 7:16 AM on April 21, 2008

"without there being any way for anyone to find out we did it."

Surely you don't mean this. It would be helpful to know exactly how private you want this to be, as opposed to the blanket "nobody can find out" statement, which is basically impossible.

I don't really know how the iTunes process works, but it seems like they'd have to allow you to sell the music under pen-names. If you don't trust Apple not to release your personal details, is there anyone you do trust?

For what it's worth, you could probably have the checks mailed to a P.O. Box taken out in the "band's" name.
posted by toomuchpete at 7:56 AM on April 21, 2008

Response by poster: We know that eventually, anyone can find out anything if they really really want to know. We don't want to avoid taxes and we don't want to go overboard, but as stated in the initial question, we don't want it to go to a trusted friend (connected with us, remember?) and we don't want to create a "doing business as" thing.

I made that statement so no one would suggest we have a fictitious business name which we all own or have a friend/family member receive the money.

It doesn't have to be crazy secret, just not such an easy/obvious tie in.
posted by stewiethegreat at 8:36 AM on April 21, 2008

CDBaby, as mentioned above, is exactly what you're looking for. Sign up with a crazy name, submit your CD for digital distribution, get a PO Box for the checks, make sure your bank will cash them (my bands get checks made out to all sorts of names - the bank doesn't blink an eye), and Bob's Yer Uncle.

Nobody but the IRS will have any way to make the connection between the music and whoever you actually are.
posted by Aquaman at 8:41 AM on April 21, 2008

I don't understand the problem. You sign up with a digital distribution service (CDBaby requires a physical product and rips you off on physical sales -- use TuneCore instead), you use your fictitious band name, and don't put your real name anywhere on it. The distributor will have to know who you are in order to send you money, but I can't imagine why that would be an issue. Customers aren't going to see your name attached to it if you don't want them to. The iTunes store doesn't have an "artist's real name" field.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:24 AM on April 21, 2008

CDBaby only NOMINALLY requires a physical product. It can be a CDR that you burn for them so they can digitize it and put it into their digital distribution channels.

Not familiar with Tunecore, but CDBaby is run out of Portland OR by real people who really care about your music. $4 to advertise, stock, account for and ship a cd is not a rip-off by any means, and they also allow you to sell MP3's directly from their site, in addition to submitting your music to over 35 online digital distributors.

And if you're only after digital distro anyway, there aren't any physical sales to be "ripped off" from.

I can't recommend them highly enough. Derek is a rare breed among online retailers - he's been offered millions to sell and always refuses, because he's having fun coding the site improvements, and wants to help people sell their music.

Doesn't get much better than that.
posted by Aquaman at 11:34 AM on April 21, 2008

The $4 that CD Baby takes from every physical sale doesn't cover shipping. If I list my CD for $8, the customer will pay $10.25 and I will receive $4. I guess you can decide if that's worth not having to put the CD in the mail yourself.

And when I used them it took 6 months or so before my music was on any of the online stores. Tunecore's turnaround was more like 3 months.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:20 PM on April 21, 2008

Also they only nominally advertise your music. According to wikipedia there are 219,458 artists selling music there, so good luck getting stumbled on by browsers.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:23 PM on April 21, 2008

« Older Which comedian did this joke?   |   Help me find new soap dish holders for my tiled... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.