gordon withers

rock cellist and maker of internets

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Kickstarter and the new music economy
woody
trisloth

[I posted this on Monday night over at my Facebook Fan Page, but I wanted to make sure this gets the proper blog treatment]

I recently decided to crowd-source the funding for the production of my new album, instead of waiting a year or more to save money or try to find a label to put it out. By then I'd already be on to the next album, and the label climate at that point will probably be even worse than it is now.

I think Amanda Palmer (Dresden Dolls) said it best recently:

"artists used to rely on middlemen to collect their money on their behalf, thereby rendering themselves innocent of cash-handling in the public eye.

artists will now be coming straight to you (yes YOU, you who want their music, their films, their books) for their paychecks.
please welcome them. please help them. please do not make them feel badly about asking you directly for money.
dead serious: this is the way shit is going to work from now on and it will work best if we all embrace it and don’t fight it."
I couldn't agree more. The internet, especially with the new breed of artists' fundraising sites such as Kickstarter, has made it easier than ever to bypass the traditional musician-label structure. I put out a figure - in this case $2,500 - to print 100 LP's and 300-500 CD's, plus mastering/packaging costs - and I test to see if there is a demand for it. With Kickstarter, if I don't raise the $2.5K, no money changes hands and everybody walks away, but I still learn something - either the demand wasn't there, or I didn't market it correctly, or I didn't give it enough time.

However!! I am convinced that the demand *is* there, based on the incredible response I've seen so far. From what I see, people are embracing this new artist-fan paradigm. I haven't received a single complaint (so far) of spamming or being too pushy with asking for money. That's really incredible. And what is more incredible is the number of people who have gone for the "special reward" pledge levels on my Kickstarter page. Six people have pledged $50 to receive the album plus a cello-ized song of their choice! Two people have even pledged over $100. (That's 8 custom cello arrangements for those who are counting - guess I'd better get crackin'!)

Frankly, I love this new way of doing things. Ten years ago, when I was playing with Betwixt, I would have been psyched to be picked up by a label. But even then, we realized that it would just be a "fun ride", probably lasting 1-2 albums and a few years before we'd inevitably go the way of 99.999% of other indie-bands on labels. These days, that "ride" no longer exists at all. Major labels are committing seppuku faster than you can say "blaeargh", and the independent labels have all been clobbered by the recession. What's left? Well, exactly what you're seeing now. DIY sites like BandCamp and Kickstarter are the new normal. Everyone's doing it on their own, and everyone is extending the tip jar your way. By all means, go ahead and download all you want, go crazy with the torrents - but don't shy away from the tip jar when us musicians pass it around. If you can't pay at the moment, then don't, but don't forget us when you eventually can.

So!! In conclusion. I've decided to make my entire new album stream-able at http://gordonwithers.bandcamp.com from Tuesday noon through next Wednesday. I hope you enjoy it. If you have the means to pre-order it at Kickstarter, that would be incredibly helpful and much-appreciated. And what would help the MOST is if you could pass on the Kickstarter link (http://bit.ly/gwalbum) to your music-loving friends. I've got 8 days to raise the remaining $1,200. I know it can be done. I believe in this album, and I'm heartened by everyone who has pledged so far.

Thanks so much for reading this, and rock on.




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You know something, going DIY and leaving out the record company middlemen makes so much sense that I can't believe anyone would ever have an issue with it! I would MUCH RATHER give my money to an artist than to a record label. I mean, they're making the art. It seems so obvious. Anyone having an issue with it is a douchebag.
I can't wait to hear your album!! :-D


Yay, thank you so much Hannah!!

Speaking of DIY artistry, you have an etsy site, right?

My Etsy site is defunct due to the Great Paypal Hacking of 2008, but I do have an Artfire site for jewelry:

http://www.artfire.com/users/ceruleansky

I also have my store linked as a kiosk in my Facebook profile. Reminds me, I need to make more pieces and get them posted. :)

I, personally, am more willing to put $25 into the pocket of an artist, particularly an artist friend, than half as much into the pockets of douches like Roadrunner Records.

Oooh. I became a fan on FB! cool

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