PledgeMusic, Kickstarter and my crowdfunding conversion

I never thought I would say this, but: today I launch a crowdfunding campaign! I'm using PledgeMusic as a platform for funding the recording of my new pop/rock/folk/NewWave/songwriter album LOOK UP. Click here to visit my project's page at where you can watch my introductory video, check out my list of cool exclusives, and heck…pledge to support me if you want! Yow!

A few years ago when crowdfunding first surfaced on my Facebook feed and in media coverage, the concept made me squirm. I've been a full-time freelance touring/recording musician for 20 years, and I was deeply marinated in the old-school DIY rock and roll model: write songs, pay to record them, pay to manufacture an album, and hit the road on tour selling CDs (and tapes!) at shows. That system worked great for me for many years….the sales of each album funded the next one and made a bit of a profit, too. Everything felt logical and righteous. Little did I know back in those early days of the new millennium that the changing economy, technology, and culture would soon radically alter the path of the road-warrior indie musician.

It was probably in 2009 when I first heard about Kickstarter. One of the reasons I was suspicious and nauseated by crowdfunding in its early days was that I witnessed some campaign train wrecks. I saw artists asking for too much money, running foggy and disorganized campaigns, flooding social media with desperate pleas for more funds, and groveling through the dreaded panic-filled countdown to the end of the failed process. You don't reach your (too-high) goal in 30 days, you don't get the money. I seemed to get a new crowdfunding pitch each week. It made me feel depressed and exhausted.

At about this same time, however, the new normal of the media/tech/culture landscape began to settle in. I began to accept the fact that the indie showbiz model had been forever changed. The last time I made a big-production studio record it was 2004 (the Public Library album), and even though lots of folks still bought CDs in those days, it still took me many months of serious touring and selling merch to break even. I knew that if I was to do another serious large-budget studio album in 2014, I might not ever pay it off by selling CDs/downloads/streams. I realized that if I ever wanted to make another relatively pro-quality album, I would need to exercise some financial creativity.

You know what finally caused my conversion experience? Being a FAN. Some of my favorite indie artists launched crowdfunding campaigns, and after my initial wave of suspicion, I agreed to support their projects. And, yes, all that stuff the crowdfunding platforms say about what the fans enjoy and want….I felt it! I was very happy and excited to be a part of my favorite artists' album-making process, and was very eager and pleased to give $20 or $50 of my money to insure I'd get new music from these great musicians. I supported projects by Parthenon Huxley, The Call, BleuButterfly Boucher, and Walter Salas-Humara. I felt very psyched and passionate to be a patron of the arts. I realized that if I felt this way as a fan of certain musicians, then it's likely that I myself have some fans who would feel that way about me. That's pretty nice! (We shall see if my hunch is correct!)

Another epiphany: after my knee-jerk aversion to crowdfunding subsided a bit, I remembered the important fact that IT'S A FREE COUNTRY. If you don't like an artist's crowd funding pitch, then don't support it. If you don't like an artist, don't buy their music/art. If you're annoyed by somebody spamming your Facebook feed with money requests, block them. It's no big deal. This acceptance of reality even solves issues like the infamous Zach Braff and Amanda Palmer Kickstarter conundrums. It's great to be free! Support what you want. Ignore what you don't want. No problem. Just relax, Jonathan.

Eventually, in another blog post, I'll address my reasons for choosing over Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or other platforms. Until then, I shall attend to the launch of my own campaign to fund my forthcoming album LOOK UP. With the support from the fine folks at PledgeMusic I'm confident I'll reach my goal (and beyond), have a lot of fun documenting the creative process, and enjoy connecting to an expanding community of supporters. (Oh yeah, and I still have to go to the studio to track keyboards and vocals for the album…) Here we go!


Anonymous said…
Now why didn't this exist for preachers to use to kickstart their sermons?
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