Home > Netlabel Reflections > Should there be a donation button?

Should there be a donation button?

Been pondering on the practical usefulness of a paypal donation button on netlabels.

If you noticed, netlabels typically have a donation button somewhere, usually right in your face (for superior usability purposes only); the reasoning is usually to present a way for people to show their support back to the label. Some labels claim these donations help pay out some server expenses.

We are divided with the concept at Enough Records: We originally didn’t have it. Then we decided to have it just for the sake of testing it. Then we started running a physical copy service along with it, just to check how many people actually care about the good old plastic that we still print for promotional reasons now and again. Other netlabels had similar services, some with more acclaimed success then others. We really didn’t get much out of that experience apart from a couple extra mail shipping ordeals.

I think they’re ugly and subvert the original spirit of the netlabel. Not that a netlabel should follow any particular spiritual guidelines to retain it’s quality or honour, but still, i would much rather not support the global sad puppy eye syndrome conspiracy that surrounds the donation button concept.

Yet other netlabel owners seem to keep wanting to try it out. I guess for still believing one day they will be able to turn their hobby into a sustainable job. I’m sure some netlabels out there with more reknown name than Enough will probably get some hefty change out of it, but let’s face it: no one is ever going to make even a part-time wage out of it. Sure, i guess anything helps to kill off expenses but i’m still not convinced this is the way to go for Enough.

That being said i often had evil plans for world domination where rehearses of such ventures to reach such a sustainability would take shape in my head. Ofcourse due to lack of time they never materialized into action, but yet keep haunting me in my lonely nights whilst i should be trying to sleep. Mostly surrounding social fund-raisers and pledge poll systems aimed at specific improvements. For example, label needs to redesign website, deal is made with reknown designer X to work on it if N money is gathered: poll pledge it for a couple weeks and if the margin gets hit the job gets done, if the margin doesn’t get hit the pledged money fallsback to whatever next project the user might have selected.


Categories: Netlabel Reflections
  1. 09/12/23 at 21:51

    Great topic.
    For us at PublicSpaces Lab we have this clear to us: we will never have a donation button. We knew from the start we would have some expenses running a netlabel and we have assumed those costs as part of our running expenses in the company.

    We aim, in 2010, to try and start promoting our artists in a more effective way so that they can actually play some gigs and get payed for them and we have often asked ourselves how we would react if any given artist would ask us to put a donation button in any specific release: We would certainly have mixed feelings about it and would try and work out a solution that would not hurt anyone.

    I’m really interested on those “evil plans for world domination”: they sound like fun ;-)

  2. 09/12/24 at 15:04

    Great topic. I’ve been thinking about this myself, when I see the buttons on other labels’ sites. I’d love to know if the buttons generate much for the labels that use them — I suspect that they don’t. I’m not planning to use them on Workbench — the label’s main purpose is not to generate income, though we do sell FLAC files through http://indietorrent.org. It’s certainly not that I’m against accepting money for the site’s service, or the artists’ work, or hosting costs, etc. etc. Eventually I hope to release some small-run vinyl and other products that will generate some money, maybe even a little profit. But the goal right now is not to make money, but to get the music heard and to generate interest in the label and the artists. The best kind of contribution anybody could give the label or its artists would be to tweet, blog, email or otherwise write about it. Tell a friend who might like it. Spread the word.

  3. 09/12/24 at 15:10

    I don’t run a netlabel, but the only music I purchase is from netlabels or direct from the artist. I personally use those donations buttons. I have yet to report a postage problem with the albums I bought (it’s going great every time). I encountered some netlabels that were refusing donations (even if I begged). I think you should keep the button, you never know, it might come handy one day.

  4. sml
    09/12/24 at 15:34

    I think “donation” is a negative concept for a netlabel. I would think in a more elaborated business model for the music of a netlabel. Business or just some money to pay the costs of servers, promo, people, …

    I woudn’t put a donation button, I’ll offer to pay for the music or contribute to the new music of the artists in some way, but not as a donation.

  5. 09/12/24 at 16:30

    For blocSonic, I’ve thought about adding a donation button, but have decided against it in favor of finding alternative revenue streams. Though, frankly, there’s not a thing wrong with a netlabel having one. Why should it be considered ill form for a netlabel to pay their server costs this way? The folks who are willing to donate are doing so to help keep the netlabel alive.

  6. 3eses
    09/12/26 at 12:40

    I’m a web structure designer and I work in marketing world (and I’m a non-commercial music lover).
    I think you must have de Donation button, but may be you have to think in giving to it another name: when some guy who loves the music you show wants to preserve your work, it might be great for he to find some indications for helping. A Donation/Contribution button will be great in that cases.

  7. 10/01/17 at 13:16

    I’ve just witnesses http://reggaedubwise.com collapse in a mess, and it was horrible. OPK, it’s not a netlabel, more of a collaborative site, like soundcloud, but it still has the same problems as netlabels do – they are the victims of their own success.

    It’s admirable that you guys think it’s against the”spirit” of the netlabel not to need a donate button, but the last thing anyone wants is for you to be personally, financially destitute, just because you have a hobby that helps other people share their music. That’s not in the “spirit” of CC music.

    I’m a podcaster and I’m lucky enough that at least two podcasting hosts have given me free hosting and unlimited bandwidth, so I don’t have the problems you face. If I had to pay, then I’d need a donate button, or I could not continue.

    I encourage you to keep your donate button. Maybe change it’s name to “support” or “help us to continue” but you should not feel embarrased about having it.

    Thanks for what you do. Most excellent.

  8. 10/01/30 at 22:47

    Since day one, Rack & Ruin has had a donate button hidden below the share button on the footer of every page. I don’t think it is ‘in your face’, and so I see no harm in it being there, should people wish to help the upkeep of the site.

    In all honesty in the past two years the total donations received via this method have been very few. Despite the output I still think we are very small when compared to other netlabels, also we do tend to put out other styles of music that the bigger and more reknowned don’t really deal with.

    If a large netlabel put a similar button on their page then it wouldn’t alter my opinion, nor do I feel it effects either the output or the ethics involved.

  9. 10/02/15 at 19:48

    I’ve had a donate button in a previous incarnation of our website but with the redesign I’ve decided against them.

  1. 09/12/24 at 01:01

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