by Adam Gold
In comes Kickstarter: an online funding platform for artists, filmmakers, independent researchers, inventors, explorers and, of course, musicians to solicit donations from supporters in order to finance their endeavors. On the site, the user pitches a project and sets a fundraising goal and deadline. If the donations fall short of the goal, the money goes back to the donors. If it exceeds the goal, the user gets to apply the excess funds to the project while the site rakes five percent from the pot. This practice is called web-based crowdsourcing.
As of late, more and more bands have utilized Kickstarter to raise the money they need to make records, videos, merch, get gear, buy vans, go on the road and generally support them the way a record label would’ve back in the good ole days, and without having the money coming from glorified lone-sharks that the band have to share publishing with or pay back just to stay alive.
Perhaps this is how Radiohead will go about producing their next record. JK.
Thanks to a Kickstarter campaign, 2009 Road to Bonnaroo victors, oddball art-pop troupe and all-around Music City go-getters Heypenny are (as of press time) $3,876 closer to finishing their next record. Within a mere three days of announcing their intentions, the band met their initial goal of the $3,400 needed to “[finish] up some tracking, mixing, mastering and pressing.”
As an incentive, the band has offered potential backers a series of rewards packages, ranging from $5 for a high-five at a show, to $500 for an in-house private performance. Click here to see Heypenny’s Kickstarter page and view the complete list of donor options.
So far they’ve received pledges courtesy of 51 backers, from widespread locations such as Austin, Chicago, Arkansas, NYC and the Carolinas. Not too shabby. According to drummer Aaron Distler, while four of the pledges were — to the band’s shock and awe — for $500, the majority of the contributions they’ve received, have been in the $20-$50 range.
After the band flogged their fundraising efforts via Facebook and an email blast, the backers came out of the woodwork. Drummer Aaron Distler tells the Scene:
A lot of them were from names I didn’t even recognize, which is pretty amazing … [the record] is just as much their project now as it is ours.
With 40 days left to go on their Kickstarter page, Heypenny now hope to raise $5,000 — which they plan on using to press the yet-to-be-titled record on vinyl.
While the Kickstarter model makes a lot of sense, and can obviously work wonders, I’ll admit: there’s something about it that rubs the cynic in me the wrong way. It makes bands look like charity cases, putting their financial support in same realm as relief for Haiti or feeding the homeless. I mean, is it only a matter of time until we see commercials that tug at the heartstrings by showing Sally Struthers and Touched by an Angel’s Roma Downey going around to rock clubs instead of third world countries, and cradling starving artists instead of starving children? Call me old fashioned, but I don’t like my rock ’n’ roll to reek of such palpable desperation.
I support bands by simply going to their shows and buying their records — as opposed to pilfering them all on Rapidshare. Is that not enough? Or as music fans, in an era when the music industry is too irreparably fractured to provide a good variety of products to satisfy our demand, does is it now rest on our shoulders to take the reigns and proactively finance the art form we love on the front end?
In the case of Heypenny, the crowdsourcing model has allowed their fans to ensure they’ll get to hear a new record at the end of the day. The same could never be said if the band were under the thumb of a major label. These days, no musician can afford to be too proud to beg, and crowdsourcing proves itself as a practice that can work for bands at a time when little else does. Thoughts?