Proposal for a Soundsystem Co-operative

This proposal is based on an idea I had when I was involved in a mutual aid project called Co-operation Birmingham. Unfortunately I never things going. Here is the original idea:

I will sketch out my idea as follows. Maybe it will get amended a bit as time goes on.


Short Term

  • Get together a diverse group of interested people
  • Online fundraiser for £1000
  • Seek donation/funding from Co-operation Birmingham (£1000)
  • Form the co-operative
  • Register the co-operative
  • Open bank account
  • Collect membership dues
  • Build the “Workhorse Soundsystem”
  • Setup systems for co-op to function (bookings, finance etc)

Medium Term

  • Grow membership
  • Build second audiophile soundsystem
  • Obtain additional equipment (e.g. Outboard rack units, power amps, DJ equipment, hard cases)
  • Create sustainable storage solution
  • Service existing equipment
  • Offer training to members in audio engineering and live sound
  • Setup van hire arrangement

Long Term

  • Investigate sustainable transport options (owning a van etc)
  • Provide other services for members
  • Inspire other collectives
  • Build a robust democratic institution
  • Build Birmingham dancefloor counterculture


Workhorse Soundsystem – Materials cost Aprox £2000

For our first build, we want something small and portable but with that big HiFi sound. We were attracted to this design due to it’s CAD plans, ease of use and potential to back down into two pieces. It would require some modification (e.g. Speakon connectors, handles, raising the horn up to ear level) but provide the high quality sound we need. We were planning to pair it with a locally made audiophile Class D amplifier.

Audiophile Soundsystem – Materials cost Aprox £4000

Eckhorn SOTA RH Highend 3-Wege-System. It's a corner based horn speaker similar to the Klipschorn. Made of wood!

We should consider building a second soundsystem aimed at situations where we need the absolutely best sound possible. This would probably be a lot less portable but is really important for building Birmingham’s reputation as a hub for musical innovation. We’ve already started to identify DIY plans online and infrastructure to build the system. A suggested budget for this could be £4000 plus time and labour. The example in the photo is a DIY version of the legendary Klipschorn speakers.


Membership would be £10 per month.

Subsequent membership after the initial setup of the co-op would require an interview and a vote by current members.

As a co-operative, each member will get a say in any large decisions made and a single share in the co-op that is not transferable and worth an arbitrary value of £1. This means member own a share in the co-operative but without being able to make personal profit off the company.

We will abide by the seven co-operative principles.

Decision making

We would make decisions as a co-op in a democratic manner using tools such as consensus decision making and sociocracy. Large decisions affecting everyone in the co-op would be made at quarterly online all members meetings. We can use the polls feature on our own category on the Co-op Brum Forum to make decisions asynchronously. We would have quarterly synchronous meeting to make large decisions.



Eventually I would like to see the soundsystem live out of the new creative hall at Stirchley Co-operative Development where it can best serve the community. Until that is ready in at least October 2024, I’m thinking to ask at Pan Pan, a venue my collective Energy Flow have worked with many times.


We would use a platform like Open Collective for collecting membership dues and ensuring financial transparency. We could hire an accountant to do our accounts.


  • Yearly membership fees (£120 per member per year)
  • Hiring fees (should be very cheap e.g. £20 per speaker stack and £10 for the amp per night which is approx three times lower than market rate)

One Off costs

  • Registering as a co-operative – £100
  • Materials of “workhorse soundsystem” – £2000

Yearly Costs

  • £300 insurance
  • Platform fees
  • Tech costs

First Year Projections


  • £1000 start up funding from Co-operation Birmingham
  • Ten members is £1200 per year
  • Raise £500 from fundraising and donations (reward could be free entry to a party)
  • Plus hire of soundsystem £50 once a month is another £600


  • £200 per year for insurance/tech/platform/admin costs
  • Repair budget of £1000 per year


We should have a surplus of £300 in the first year based on 10 members. Hopefully repair costs will be low and we can add to that surplus significantly in second year.

What Next?

I will be speaking to people I think might be interested in the next couple of months. You can always get in touch with me to register interest if this sounds like something you are interested in being a part of. Bear in mind I have limited capacity to respond sometimes though.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will you allow organisations to join?

I personally would like to see organisation or companies that run venues or events get their own soundsystems. It’s a vital part of building our cities music culture. The goal of this project is to support people who don’t have access to the capital needed to invest in this sound equipment have access to it. This shouldn’t be a way for venues to avoid investing in their own equipment to save money. However, I would like to see a clause that would allow other co-operatives or democratic organisations to join though.


This post was updated on 2023-10-18 to remove the old workhorse PA and replace it with DIY Plans.

This post was updated on 2023-10-27 to tweak the finance numbers.

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