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"Crowd Funding" your albums/projects

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by TRichardsbass, Jan 6, 2013.

  1. TRichardsbass

    TRichardsbass Inactive Commercial User

    Jun 3, 2009
    Between Muscle Shoals and Nashville
    Bassgearu, Music Industry Consulting and Sales. Tech 21, NBE Corp, Sonosphere.
    My friend and bassist extraordinaire Steve Jenkins started a discussion on his Facebook page that really got to me today. He simply asked, "What do you think about crowd funding your album?"

    Well, here is my two penny rant:

    Crowd funding is begging, mostly, by a bunch of lazy, not invested musicians who don't understand what sacrifice and saving are for anything.

    Now, I'm not talking about projects like you see on Kickstarter that are actual companies building a product or trying to launch some REAL business venture, but those billions on there who beg for money and in return you get a mention in the liner notes, if they even have them.

    The truth is, you can record an entire album, mix and master the recording on your Apple for merely the cost of a computer, an interface and Apple Logic Pro. That, in total, cost me under $2K. And, you can actually use Garage Band, the software that comes with your Apple product included, to make a complete studio quality release. So, subtract the $500 for the Apple Logic Pro Studio, and you can see you can have all the recording you need at your fingertips for $1500. You know, the amount of money you spent on an iPhone, all those iPhone Apps and the monthly plan costs.

    I'm not opposed to the concept, and I have actually pledged to several Kickstarter projects, to include the J. Backlund Design Retronix project. But J. Backlund is a REAL business, with a REAL business plan and I know personally that they are using the Kickstarter pledge $$$ for exactly what they need to produce, introduce and market the new Retronix line.

    Which is where my beef is with most bands "crowd funding" their first or any album. Most of thes "bands" are not even DBA'd, let alone LLC or incorporated. They are a bunch of people who, IMHO, refuse to sacrifice and instead of partying or buying that iPhone, save the money to make their album.

    Crowd funding does not invest the makers into the music or the album. If you never release the album, so what? If you don't live up to your pledge, you lose nothing as a band, and the contributors lose what they put in, even if it was just $5.

    I know one such project that a girl who I mentor pledged $200 with the promise that she would get to meet the band, get a CD and would get her name in the liner notes. Two years later they finally got her a CD, and her name was not anywhere on or in the CD. And, they moved across the country so their promise to her to meet them in NYC was no longer good. They apologized and told her that she would get a special mention in the next album they make. Then the band broke up.

    I know, its pledger beware, but crowd funding of music projects, unless its say, a very famous and established artist, is just lazy begging.

    'nuff said.
  2. intheory


    Nov 17, 2009
    SW Florida
    I guess I agree to an extent. I do think it's possible that some fans of bands may enjoy the opportunity to put a hand in to help. Honestly, while your assertion may be true sometimes (although its obviously a generalization), remember that people have a clear choice to not participate on giving to a project.
  3. bluestarbass


    Jul 31, 2007
    I agree with you for the most part. If you have no experience mixing or mastering no equipment in the world will put out a quality product. If your already popular, it's just basically pre selling your album, which is sorta smart if you are established. If you are a new band, and have enough friends who wanna support you why not? If your just begging and your band sucks then you won't get the money anyway.
  4. bass12

    bass12 Have you seen my tonsils lately? Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    I'm not sure which studios you've been visiting. :eyebrow: Your post shows a total disregard and lack of respect for the skills of sound engineers and mixers. :rollno:
  5. Wally Malone

    Wally Malone

    Mar 9, 2001
    Boulder Creek, CA
    AFM International Representative Endorsing Artist: Accugroove Cabinets & MJC Ironworks Strings
    Another plus, Logic Pro is now only $199.99. As soon as one of my basses sell I'm looking at getting a MacBook Pro and Logic Pro. I've already started using Garage Band with my FocusRite Scarlett 2i2 with my iMac.

  6. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I'm not sure I'd characterize Jim Hall, Bill Frisell, Maria Schneider, Chris Potter, Danilo Perez and so many others as "lazy" uninvested musicians who are "begging".
  7. JamesGoodall


    Aug 29, 2011

    You also forgot the cost of microphones. Drum mic's alone will run you about $800 for a passable set, but you'll usually need more than just an 8 channel interface for any good drum recordings, though you can passably get by with 8.

    But that's just drums.
  8. Wally Malone

    Wally Malone

    Mar 9, 2001
    Boulder Creek, CA
    AFM International Representative Endorsing Artist: Accugroove Cabinets & MJC Ironworks Strings
    Having reread Tom's initial post I did not see anything negative about sound engineers and mixers.

  9. I have two friends who clued me in to this recently...


    I just found out about it a few weeks ago, when they started up their pledge drives. They have actually raised money, so it is working for them! Can't argue with that.

    While yes, the falling cost of and increasing power of digital technology has driven the start up price for a studio down to a fraction of what it used to be, one still needs the skill and knowledge to know what to do with all that technology. It still costs about $10 000 to make a full length CD, tracked, mixed, mastered, booklets designed and printed, jewel case and CD duplication of about 1000 discs.

    The artists are free the ask, and the fans (+ friends/ family) are free to contribute or not to contribute. No one is forcing anyone to give.
  10. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    +1 The days of needing a studio to cut a decent demo are over I agree home recording doesn't compare to a studio and an actual engineer but unless you have a recording contract and you are making a commercial album I don't see spending thousands on studio recordings and I don't mind using the fans and Kickstarter to fund a project I have already donated to one band myself.
  11. JamesGoodall


    Aug 29, 2011
    No denying that, but the decent home studio still costs upwards of $5k for a good quality setup. That's about where mine is at right now mic's and all.I have no problem with home production, I was just clarifying the true monetary investment needed.

    And If I donate $5 to my favourite band for their next album just cause I like their music who cares? I'd gladly support them any day with what I can spare.
  12. bass12

    bass12 Have you seen my tonsils lately? Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    To suggest that anyone with a rudimentary recording set up can produce a professional quality product is to suggest that the skills of an engineer are not part of what makes a finished recording sound "professional". While I can appreciate a lot about the DIY approach, I've never heard so many badly recorded and/or mixed records in my life as I have over the past few years courtesy of bands producing "professional" quality recordings in their basements.
  13. hernameisrio


    Sep 27, 2011
    Berkeley, CA

    Also, I think you guys are seriously underestimating the budget for an album/home studio setup. What about microphones, monitor speakers, effects, cables, acoustic treatment...?

    I mean, if you wanna mix and monitor through cheap headphones and use the same $100 microphone for everything, that's your choice...but 1) have fun recording drums that way and 2) have fun convincing your fans that a product like this is worth paying for.

    Many big studios are dropping their rates significantly to stay in the game. I wish more people would use them.

    As for crowd sourcing, I guess in a lot of ways it makes sense...it's just a more direct way of taking people's money. It's WHAT you're paying for that I sometimes question.
  14. JakeF


    Apr 3, 2012
    Advance from Label/Management for album = Cool. All business. Not begging.

    Advance from public/Kickstarter etc. = uncool. Not real business. Begging.

    One thing I enjoy about music is freedom and not having a "should" be this way or that. Go ahead and pass your judgment, call these people lazy, beggars and fake. For some indie is just a style, others are about trying new ways and living a life that doesn't fit the mold. The bands who do this are in debt, they are in debt to the fans and the public, with their names all over the projects, and aware of your criticism, and they do it anyways.

    That will not be my path, simultaneously, I raise my glass to those who are trying to actually do something in a new way. If they can live with it, more power to them.

    Or as stated by another great man.

  15. f64


    Oct 31, 2009
    Naples, FL
    Tom, I look at pledge funding as the latest spin on an age old game. When there were only a hand full of tier 1 recording labels only a limited number of bands actually were signed. Tier 2 labels usually offered a smaller package but it included at least partial funding on studio time and distribution. You're right - today you can cut through the process and produce acceptable material with a small investment and get to the same point. Musicians still want to get paid more than they are - some how, some way. That could be from secondary investors. If that means directly from the listeners - that's where they'll look. There aren't many other options. Honestly, I look at it as desperate people doing desperate things.
  16. ShoeManiac

    ShoeManiac Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2006
    New Jersey
    And "Get off my lawn" while we're at it, Tom? :D

    I can't say that I have a major issue with crowd-funding. Some people take issue with it as a matter of pride, but the overall concept is not without historical precedence. I get where the spirit of your message is coming from, Tom. It's the story of "Build yourself up from nothing and THEN if you're good & lucky, you get rewarded". That's been the history of the music business as we know it for the past 75 years or so.

    But what about before that? In the days before recorded music, composers were commissioned to do work by wealthy patrons. The wealthy were the only ones who could afford to do so at the time, but that's simply because of the economic structures of the time.

    Crowd funding is a similar model to classical patronage. Now are the musicians anywhere near as accomplished as those classical composers who were working at the behest of the Court of the Austo-Hungarian Empire? In a few cases, yes, but mostly no. But crowd-funding is a much more direct pipeline from the fan to the artist. You're dealing with more donors offering smaller ammounts of money, but those funds are going towards the process of making recorded music. So it's very clearly modern-day music patronage where the corporations like record labels have been cut out of the mix.

    I'm sure there are plenty of cases of Kickstarter funds that are started by garage bands who are simply getting money from their families and friends. I get that. But some are artists who have been playing gigs for years, and due to the collapse of much of the music industry, they can't even get arrested, let alone signed.

    Are there instances where Kickstarter and similar funds can be misused? Sure. The Amanda Palmer incident from last year clearly stands out. She raised over $1.5 million to make a record, and proceeded to go on tour and wasn't going to pay auxilliary musicians like string and horn players. There was a major backlash against her since here Kickstarter fund reached unprecedented funding levels, and yet she said that there wasn't enough money to pay these musicians. Eventually, she bowed to public pressure and started paying these horn & string players who were playing her tour dates.

    Crowd funding is clearly far from perfect. Some projects that don't have artistic merit are going to get funded for dubious reasons. And some projects that deserve to be heard may not get the funding they need. But I think that given the turmoil in the music industry, you're going to find crowd funding to be much more a case of the new normal.
  17. TRichardsbass

    TRichardsbass Inactive Commercial User

    Jun 3, 2009
    Between Muscle Shoals and Nashville
    Bassgearu, Music Industry Consulting and Sales. Tech 21, NBE Corp, Sonosphere.
    @JakeF, an advance from a label means they invest in you and get a return, at least in theory, AND they have some control over what you do and when you do it.Crowd funding has none of that. And with most label advances they dont hand you a check for thefull amount to start. And yes, a label will only give u the dough after you have proven yourself to some degree.

    No, I have the utmost respect for good sound engineers. The fact is though that for your first self produced release as most bands do you dont need them. The fact that all things are digutal and there is so much dynamic compression on most releases really devalues the need for and skill of sound engineers.

    I use software for drums. No need for expensive mics. Another dirty secret that saves you huge $$$$$.

    Also, forget the home studio thing for a minute. If you rehearse your stuff well and hard, you can record six songs "live" in about three hours. Add another six hours for cleanup and mix. Another two for mastering. 11hours. Most studios charge about $35 per hour for that, so for under $500 you have decent recordings to put on YouTube, CD baby, whatever. And you can also take the raw files and play with them yourself.

    And before anyone says I am wrong, I did just that a couple of years ago with an old friend and got them on the radio. Total time for seven songs to radio ready was 15 hours.

    So I dont get the need for all the money. Like I said, the CD format is nearly dead anyway, so why would you spend all that dough on a first or second release for things you will mostly give away anyway?
  18. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I see no problem with it Kickstarter or fans who are into the band funding an album...it's cool.

    All the bands I have been in have used studios. Some of the members were good with PC's and home recording but don't want the hassles and let the pro's do it.
    We got great rates and there is no need for extra equipment and personal time many of us just do not have slaving over a laptop all day.
  19. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
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