Usher," around 2004.
I curried favor and collected everyone I could to pitch in. Actors, cable pullers, drivers and bagel buyers. A true indie production, currently available here.
I went into debt making the film, because who listens to the advice of not using your own money, or believes their idea isn't better than the others that don't get sold, or realizes how expensive post production (especially on film) really is. I did get it in the can, and while the film never made it to DVD (the indie DVD market was falling apart already by then) I got my soundtrack on iTunes and CDBaby and have actually sold a handful of tunes for about a dollar each.
That and some pocket change would buy you a pocket. The yearly checks I got were good for buying a case of beer for the Christmas holiday. All those streams on Spotify and Rdio added up to about $20 over the course of a year, a penny at a time. CDBaby struck a deal with Rumblefish in 2012 in which they would monetize any use of the songs they held on YouTube, identifying it and collecting a bit of money for every view.
About .000635 cents for each view.
This works 2 ways. People who upload something and need a song can use their huge database and pick my song (assuming they find it, or hear it and think it appropriate for their needs). A "Buy it now" button is added to the clip description. More pennies for me (the answer to the question who buys the song they hear on a YouTube video we'll save for another day).
Or, anyone who had already grabbed one of the songs is warned to replace it or share in the wealth.
The bad news was Rumblefish kept trying to block the music on our own upload, then allowed it thereby gaining 50% of the funds for any plays. (Not that there were any funds before it was licensed).
The surprising news was, I just found out my soundtrack guy (Jeff Lunzaga aka Desciple) had used one of my cuts (or one similar enough for software) in another film he scored the same year, "Gangsta's Paradise" and it was recently identified by Rumblefish as belonging to me (I have the contract right here, Jeff).
This film's been watched many more times than "Usher," and in the last 10 days alone has been watched over 103000 times.
That's 3 cases of beer.
I don't know the deal Jeff made with the producers of "Gangsta's" but by virtue of being first to CDBaby and Rumblefish with the music, I inadvertently find myself in the position to start to pay off that debt with this inadvertent revenue trickle.
Just in time for July 4th!