There have been a lot of changes in the music industry business model over the last ten years. One of the biggest changes is the idea that an artist needs to sign a record label to make a commercially viable record. Over the last year, a variety of artists — including folk scene mainstay Ellis Paul, former Throwing Muses singer-guitarist Kristin Hersh, and singer/songwriter Jill Sobule — opted to make music via fan funding instead of signing with a record label. By getting the money for recording expenses from their fans, artists can make the music that they want without the hassel of getting their label’s approval. By donating money to their favorite artists, fans can guarantee that they’ll get to hear new music.
These days, artists are coming up with all sorts of ways to secure their fans’ financial support. It can be as easy as posting a PayPal button on a Website or putting out a donation box at live shows. However, the most successful model for donations seems to be offering fans something special in return for their contributions — whether it be exclusive content, merchandise or a simple thank you letter. To encourage higher-level donations, artists are getting even more creative. For $10,000, you could sing on Jill Sobule’s record or have a lifetime of Ellis Paul guest list spots for you and a friend! There are also Websites like Sellaband.com, which allows artists and fans to share in the profits of the music they both helped create.
OurStage artist Brian Bergeron was inspired by the success of Jill Sobule’s fundraising efforts. Knowing his fans wanted to hear new music just as much as he wanted to make it, Bergeron turned to his audience for help. “I’m not looking for a record label,” said Bergeron via email, “I think it’s best to stay indie in times like these, and fan funded albums are a great way to do so!” Fans who donated $15–$24 received an acknowledgment in liner notes, an autographed copy of the album, access to MP3s of album tracks before official release date and a thank-you letter from the band. Fans who were generous enough to donate $1000 received a copy of the album, merchandise, concert tickets, additional exclusive music content, executive producer credit on the album and a concert at their house. Through fan funding, Bergeron was able to raise enough money to cover a portion of the cost of recording his first full-length album with his band The Late Greats. “I’m glad I went the fan funded route,” said Bergeron,” I would recommend it to any musician.”
Check out some track’s from Brian’s fan funded album We’ve Got To Find An Easier Way below!