Fan Funding

Over the past couple weeks there have been quite the heated debates sparking up about Kickstarter type projects and the role they have in this scene and music at large.  There are clearly two camps…one that is pro artists asking for money to fund recording projects and another staunchly against such a thing.

I first noticed it when Jason Eady tweeted that he needed some help finishing his upcoming album, AM Country Heaven, and had set-up various funding options for interested fans.  We re-tweeted that tweet and were immediately questioned by a fan that thought it was a) wrong for Eady to ask for money, mainly because he played a Gibson guitar, and who can argue with logic like that…and b) wrong for Galleywinter to use our platform to promote such a dastardly request from an artist.

Then, yesterday, Rita Ballou posted a link from Nick Verzosa making a similar case to his fans.  Just as swiftly as Eady had been questioned on Twitter a couple weeks prior, Verzosa was called to the carpet in the comments section at Rita Ballou.

My question to you is…what’s your take on this situation?

Personally, I see nothing wrong with an artist asking for donations to help fund a project.  We are in uncharted territory in the music business these days.  Why not think outside the box and try new ways of doing things?  If a fan feels compelled to donate money to an artist, that’s their business.  Nearly all recordings have a benefactor or person(s) that have invested the money up front for a return on investment.

One of our mottos is “Support music you love.”  That generally means going to shows, telling your friends about the bands etc.  But, there’s nothing that says it can’t be lending them a few bucks to record their next record.  In fact, I think that’s pretty cool.  It connects them to the project on a whole different level. Whether that connection comes from buying a couple t-shirts at gigs or giving $50 to get your name in the liner notes, it shouldn’t matter.

What’s your take?

Brad Beheler

Raised in Waco, refined in the Hill Country, escaped from DFW. I've worked in just about every facet of the music business for 20 years. I like to write about it all. e-mail Brad Editor-in-Chief

58 thoughts on “Fan Funding

  • April 12, 2011 at 9:58 am

    As strong of a grip as record labels have over what we hear and don’t hear I think it is a great idea to garner support from the listeners to get the albums out that may not have a chance to see the light of day.

    If an artist wants to keep the money associated with putting out an album instead of letting the label reap the rewards then more power to them.

  • April 12, 2011 at 10:02 am

    If you are a fan of an artist’s music and you are able to donate, go for it. Alot of these musicians still hold regular jobs and are working very hard to do things they are passionate about. If you love their music you wont see a problem with it whether or not they play a Gibson or First Act(Wal-mart brand), drive a bus or van, just as long as the music ROCKS!!!

  • April 12, 2011 at 10:12 am

    The following is what I wrote over on Texas Music Chart’s facebook about the topic.
    When I believe in a project that someone is putting together I will do a lot of things like write reviews, tell my friends, travel to see them and donate to the cause.

    The “business” has so much money tied up in it that poor musicians can’t afford to pay for an album. They can;t front the money and most of the time don’t have equity or credit to get a loan.

    Looking to fans as investors is a great thing. As long as it doesn’t come across as “must donate”. That would be just douchey. but some people out there have the resources to make a difference in the life of a musician and recording an album that can in turn change all our lives. They should get the chance to help out if they want.

    Fans are being given the chance to become contributors in this music scene and not just consumers. This is a game changer for artists to do what they want without a label telling them what to do.

    think about it… 1,000 have give $10 and an album can be recorded with no hindrance… Just pure artistry. I love it.
    I still believe in everything I wrote here. If the fans want to give then they will… if not then the artist will have to find other ways. No one is forcing anybody to write a check.

  • April 12, 2011 at 10:14 am

    I see no problem with artists/bands asking for money from their fans to help fund an upcoming record. The artists do a great job of providing some great rewards for those who do give. Everybody wins.

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  • April 12, 2011 at 10:29 am

    I think it is a great idea. Why not help an artist you support? It is one way to make a difference. You can only buy so many t shirts. It can’t be the easiest thing for an artist to ask for help but must make them feel good to see an out pouring of fan support to finance a new project.

  • April 12, 2011 at 10:53 am

    If fans want to donate that is absolutely their choice. If you have the money to help fund a project that you believe in then why not?
    Would I? Heck no. I love music and I buy a lot of it, but I don’t want to pay for it to be made as well. What happens after it’s made, are they going to start asking for promo and gas money too?

  • April 12, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Where do you think the money from all the music you “buy a lot of” goes? Certainly not to the artist.

  • April 12, 2011 at 11:34 am

    That’s not really my problem. Does anyone care that everything I bill out in a month doesn’t all go directly to me? No they don’t.

    I think you completely missed my point.

  • April 12, 2011 at 11:38 am

    I’ve contributed to several fan-funded projects over the last 4 or 5 years (long before Kickstarter got in on the scene). I’m all for anything that gets more music by the artists I love out there for me to enjoy.

  • April 12, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    It’s cool for the artists to ask for support from their fans, but it’s a delicate line to walk. I think it would be best to solicit donations more discretely – through email lists or speaking with your “super fans” directly. To post it on your website and make a big initiative out of it is a bit over the top for me – just one man’s opinion. I mean, save the on-line donation initiatives for cancer research, helping a local school program, etc. You know, REAL causes – not just an individual’s dream to make it big.

    And I agree with Suzanne. These “fan funding” promos started by asking for $5-$10K to help with the production of a record. But now they are asking for $50 or $100K (obviously to help with promotion and other costs). I just don’t think that’s a realistic goal. If you’re having to ask your fans to help you produce a record, $50-$100K seems like a stupidly high budget for an artist in that position.

    It seems they want the instant stardom the radio promotion lottery ticket may bring, without actually having to buy the lottery ticket with their own money.

  • April 12, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    good points… I wouldn’t argue your opinion on it for sure. The only thing I’d say is that 20-50K for a good record (not including promotion costs) is not out of the ordinary. There’s more moving parts than most people would every even dream about.

    And it’s probably another conversation, but I would argue that music and the survival of it’s purity is a very important & real cause. As long as it’s not as you say, someone just trying to make it big.

  • April 12, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    I think artists asking for fans to donate funds to help make the record is a great concept. With most of these campaigns I’ve seen the lowest donation level ($10-25) gets you a copy of the CD. If you are going to buy the CD, why not look at this option as super pre-ordering? I think the donation process also makes the artists more dependent on their fans rather than a label. But when the artists start asking for the type of money that you would be getting from a label to produce/promote an album, I think that’s a little excessive. It’s not a perfect process, but it allows music fans to truly be a patron of their favorite artist.

  • April 12, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Simple concept…. vote with your wallet. If an artist has songs he/she wants to produce, and has a fan base willing to pay for them, then where’s the debate? Other than a bunch of folks who really don’t know what they’re talking about popping off for no good reason?

    Even posing the question as, “What’s your take on the SITUATION?” offends me to a degree. Exactly WHAT situation are you talking about? The situation that there are a few artists with more talent and fans than capital?

    The only people that should feel threatened by this type of fundraising are the trust fund babies who’ve dominated this scene for too long. When daddy’s money can’t buy them TRR Top 10 anymore, I suppose they’ll have to go get a job.

  • April 12, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    I have no problem with this. I would absolutely help out an artist I believe in.

  • April 12, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    I see both sides of the coin on this topic. I’ve seen this a little but I’m somewhat unfamiliar with how exactly it works. Is it a donation or investing in the album? Like one of the posters above said if your gonna buy the album and kick in 15 or 20 it’s basically a pre-order but if your putting down a pretty good chunk of change I would rather it be a investment, that way if the CD does end up turning a profit there would be some return on your money.If your passionate about what you do no matter whether it’s cooking, working on cars or whatever it kinda becomes art in it’s own way. If I love working on cars and have some customers but want to open my own shop, I wouldn’t expect them to donate so I could open up my shop but I might would approach them to be investors.

  • April 13, 2011 at 6:43 am

    I agree with many posts that this is a fine line to walk. If you have money, who am I to say how you spend it. But, some people keep reminding fans that this is a business first. So my first reaction to “fan funding” is that artists can’t keep saying how this is a business, then ask fans to bail them out. That being said, I did go over to Jason Eady’s payment options and thought they were reasonable requests. You pay money and get something in return. I did not look at it like a donation, but a purchase of goods or services. This keeps it a business and still allows fans to be a part of the music.

  • April 13, 2011 at 8:30 am

    My friend has a donation website asking people to help him build his racing engine. I didn’t once think about him being inappropriate for doing it.

    Are people viewing these artists as someone more than human? They really aren’t. They are regular people who want help funding a project from anyone interested.

    Even if they were asking for donations to buy a touring bus, I don’t see that as being any different. Would I donate money to help them get their tour bus? Hell no. But if they raised money through donations to get that bus then I can’t think of a GOOD reason for it to make me mad. Jealous, maybe, but not mad for any good reason.

  • April 13, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    If you like a band and their music, why not be able to give freely towards them achieving their goals? I’ve been given much joy from many many bands throughout my years and if I am in a position to give back so they can bring that joy to others, why not? Seems like the ONLY right thing to do. No different than a politician asking for donations for their campaign … well biggest difference is the I like what comes out of a musician’s mouth 😉 Nick, keep up the good work! As soon as taxes are done, I’ll be donating to your cause!

  • April 13, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Vinny is indifferent on both sides, artist asking for money and fans donating. Like alot have said, it’s up to the individual. If they wanna do it, go for it. Personally, Vinny wouldn’t donate to fund a record. He spends enough money as it is on shows, gas, cds, merch, sometimes hotels, airfare and cabs etc. That’s plenty enough money being spent to support the bands and artists he likes.

  • April 13, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    That’s pretty much where I sit on it Vinny. I don’t have any problem with it what so ever but I already spend alot of money supporting the artists that I like. It wouldn’t be something that I would do unless I had a close relationship with them.

  • April 15, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Sometimes there are friends and fans out there that want to be able to help out, and don’t know how; these setups allow us to.

    Sons of Bill recently did their first Kickstarter campaign for their next album and actually got donations double what their goal was! Knowing how amazingly nice these guys are and how hard they work to record and tour, I (and obviously many others) contributed to support them. I think people felt very passionate about helping considering their goal was so far exceeded!

    Now if a band starts to make asking for funding a regular occurrence multiple times then I do think they will run out of available sponsors, but for a one-off request to help out some friends, I don’t see a problem.

  • April 15, 2011 at 9:56 am

    that’s a great point. And one of my biggest concerns.. that this is going to become a regular occurrence across the board and we’re all going to feel weird becuase we can;t donate to everyone. I know I don;t have a big cash cow!

  • April 18, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Great Discussion topic…

    I haven’t reviewed all the comments. But felt inclined to offer my opinion. If you like the music and want to hear it, then is some capacity you need to support it. Attendance, merchandise, etc.

    We use “OKOM” all the time, well if its “Ours”, it more than just ours to listen to… its ours to support as well.

    If an artist requests donations to make the CD, it would come out soon enough it they weren’t on the up and up. So let’s take them at their word initially. We talk about how much we like certain bands and people, so let’s support them as best we can.

    As an aside, and maybe this is being done, but it would probably be appropriate for these bands to offer a free show for those who donate. Either by putting on a specific show, just for that group, or offering free entry to a show of their choice… just a thought.

  • June 28, 2011 at 2:36 am

    I haven’t reviewed all the comments. But felt inclined to offer my opinion. If you like the music and want to hear it, then is some capacity you need to support it. Attendance, merchandise, etc.

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