Looks like the new paradigm is DIY – with sponsors.
Got a note the other day about the upcoming Bleu album, Four. I’m a big fan; they even used my pull quote on the jacket of the first album which was my favorite record of the year. But although he’s had success on a major label and getting his music into film, he’s gone the truly independent route this time in an effort to release his music without compromise or interference - he’s gone on Kickstarter. Stacy from Speck Management, who handles Bleu, echoes my feelings about this type of DIY marketing plan:
“I think this is a full testament that indie music is alive and well! Major record labels, and even some indie labels, I think, are underestimating the power of fans who truly love the artists they….love. Fans seem to rally for artists on Kickstarter because they know their pledges go directly to the artist, and that makes them feel good about it.”
Unlike most of the projects on Kickstarter, Bleu has blown by his initial modest goal by a mile, but he’s still offering several inducement packages to invest directly with the artist; circumnavigating the old-school machine that sucks up most of the money and usually drops the ball.
The amount of money is a pittance compared to a major film or album budget, but I guarantee you Bleu is getting far more cash to work with and will have no debt to recoup, plus he has 100% ownership going forward. It’s a sweet deal for him, and for his fans – he’ll be able to get more projects completed and released and extend his career. In short, the new paradigm.
You’ll remember that a while back I touted the support of the Kinks film Do It Again, where Geoff Edgers had invested all he could from personal savings (and the wallets of friends and family) and used Kickstarter to get the film into festivals. The result was a rousing success, and he continues to take the film around the world and screen it for audiences and distributors. Having seen the film and the audience reaction to it, I know it’s only a matter of time before this gets a wider release.
Another project is the Graham Parker documentary Don’t Ask Me Questions which is making great strides after only a couple of weeks. Once again, people like you and me are getting involved to support worthy projects with reasonable budgets to help bring them to fruition.
The premise of a Kickstarter program is that the creator has a financial goal which is publicly posted. If they do not reach that goal in the allotted period of time, all bets are off and none of the pledges are enforced. For those who are skeptical about donating to a project and then losing their money when it never sees the light of day, this is about as big a safeguard as you can get.
Could a project owner raise the pledge money and then pocket it without producing the planned result? Of course. People could also request an insufficient sum of money because they planned poorly, or could wind up reprioritizing the effort and making a profit. You have to use your common sense, like you should do with any investment. Thankfully it’s easy to research the project owner, and since the artist involved has a lot more to risk career-wise, you can be pretty certain that they vetted everything thoroughly before getting their name and reputation involved.
And if the project owner makes some money, what’s wrong with that? As long as the album or film gets produced, I’m happy. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
Otherwise you can sit at home and watch the big industrial machine release make the decisions. So enjoy that Creed album on your way to see Transformers V.
Here’s the main link to Kickstarter - you might find that a favorite artist is trying to get something off the ground, and you could be an important part of making that happen. If for nothing else, you’ll get an advance, behind-the-scenes peek at what might be coming down the pike in the future.
It’s your eyes and ears and wallet, after all. Carpe diem…