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Fans Fund Protest The Hero’s New Album

Having recently parted ways with Vagrant Records, Protest The Hero has turned to their fan base to fund a new album. Having recently fulfilled all contractual obligations, Protest the Hero has put together this fantastic video in an effort to successfully create an album on their own terms.

The response has been remarkable. With donation levels ranging from $10-$5000, each with a unique reward, the band has raised over $136,000 – far surpassing their $125,000 goal. Check out the video that helped inspire that kind of support from the band’s fans.

Watch it here.

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Exclusive Q and A: Ben Folds Talks Crowd Funding, Amanda Palmer and A New Kind of Fan Community

OurStage Exclusive InterviewsWith record labels in a precarious spot, many up-and-coming bands have been turning to crowd funding as a way to raise money for touring, recording, merch production and more. Major artists have taken note, with acts like Secondhand Serenade and The Voice‘s Nakia using the “rewards for pledges” model through sites like Kickstarter, ArtistShare and more.

Shortly after their long-awaited reunion, Ben Folds Five decided to test out this innovative new platform to help fund their first record in thirteen years. In exchange for donations, the band is not only offering prizes like signed vinyls and t-shirts, but they’re also helping to promote the music, art, videos of their fans. They’ve even offered to call each fan who downloads their new song “Do It Anyway” or makes a pledge a Vice President of Promotions for their de facto record label, encouraging them to add “#ImaDamVP” on the end of their promotional tweets. We caught up with Ben to discuss the progress of the campaign, Kickstarter goddess Amanda Palmer and why we should help fight for continued arts funding.

OS: How is the record progressing? Can you estimate a release date at this point?

BF: I think we should be doing this in early September. Sometimes we’re late, but I think that should do it!

OS: Why did you choose to use a pledge model for funding this record?

BF: Looking at all our options, we had spoken to PledgeMusic a couple months ago. We thought that no matter how we do it, we may include that route, somehow. Last weekend, we started realizing, “Well, we’re going out on tour and it would be fun to put out something we recorded,” because we’re excited about what we’ve recorded, but we’re not on any kind of label or anything. We put it out free on a couple fan sites, which crashed pretty immediately. The next day, there were about 100,000 downloads out there. We thought, “Oh shit, we gotta put the record on sale.” You can’t be promoting it and then not pre-selling it too. The industry’s already screwed up enough as it is without shooting yourself in your own foot. We scrambled the next day to get it up and Pledge had been someone we’d been talking to, and we just did it.

OS: What made you choose PledgeMusic over other services, like Kickstarter or ArtistShare?

BF: I don’t know much about all of them, so I’m not good about shopping around. But what was compelling to me was that, in our position, I didn’t think it was really necessary to flash the sales number. That’s the way Kickstarter does it, Amanda [Palmer] did it that way and it’s been really great.But I play these things by feel, and that didn’t feel right to me. I likened it to sitting in a restaurant where, next to the food, the tally is turning over while you’re eating to see how much money is going to the restaurant…it’s not necessary to know that. But I think it’s really interesting, especially with Amanda Palmer’s campaign…it gives people an insight.

Continue reading ‘Exclusive Q and A: Ben Folds Talks Crowd Funding, Amanda Palmer and A New Kind of Fan Community’

Behind The Mic: 20 Things All Artists Should Be Doing

As the Behind the Mic series comes to an end, we’d like to give you all a list of 20 things we think all artists should be doing to keep their fans engaged, pack their shows and promote their music.

From having an online presence to setting up distribution for your albums, we hope this list will help you hone your skills as both a musician and a business person in the fast-paced and constantly changing music industry. After all, your band is your brand, and it takes lots of hard work and dedication to reach your goals!

1. Get online. This is an obvious one—you’re already here, but if you don’t yet have an account on OurStage, sign up now! As our artists will tell you, it can be a career-changing move. You should also have a MySpace page, a Twitter account, a Facebook page and anything other account you think you’ll use. You don’t need to sign up for every single music site you see, because chances are that you don’t have the time to update all of them all the time. An outdated profile is useless, and sometimes detrimental to your progress!

2. Consider making your next album an EP, or a 3P. As we discussed earlier, the 3P is the future of music releases. We live in a world of instant gratification, so music fans are showing preference to purchasing a few EPS over the course of a year than an annual album.

3. Take some new band photos. Ditch the old photos from last year and get some updated, high-quality shoots. You’ll need them for your websites and press kits!

4. Get your album reviewed. There are a million bloggers out there waiting for albums to review. Get your music heard and attain a quotable review for your EPK and bio.

5. Research potential sponsorship opportunities. Sponsorships are a great way to offset the costs of being in a band. Learn how to reach out to companies for sponsorships for clothing, gear and more.

6. Be gig-savvy. Plan your gigs carefully—be sure not to double up on the same market more than twice in a month, and watch out for potential scams. You might want to start using a band calendar to keep track of everyone’s availability. That will save you the extra step of calling each band member every time you’re offered a show. And don’t forget to use our Gig Finder to find new show opportunities!

7. Learn the business. The music industry can be tricky. Learning the ins and outs of record deals, tour planning, etc. will put you at an advantage over other musicians!

8. Practice your live show. The test of a true musician is seeing how well you can replicate the sound of your record in a live setting. Take our tips for honing your stage presence and your next show will be even better than your last.

9. Sell your merch online. Fans who can’t come out to shows need a way to buy your merch too. Set up a webstore and start selling!

10. Manage your mailing list. Set up a mailing list and an account on a newsletter site. Keep your fans in the know and offer them cool incentives for signing up!

11. Promote to the college crowd. College kids love music and love being the first to know about the hottest upcoming bands. Learn how to get in with the college crowd by playing shows, getting on-air interviews and handing out free merch at local schools!

12. Webcast your next show or acoustic set. Make your fans feel like they’re getting the VIP treatment by putting them front row center to an intimate performance or live show, or just host your own webchat. Webcasting is a powerful artist tool, so make sure you get on it as soon as possible!

13. Launch a fan-funded campaign. Fan funding is the hottest new way to raise cash for a new record, tour or merch collection. Source your funding from your fans and reward them with awesome, exclusive prizes!

14. Design cooler merch. With all the crazy merch out there, T-shirts and CDs are old hat. Get creative with your merch and give your fans some fantastic new swag.

15. Record a cover song. A cover song is a fast, fun and easy way to get extra exposure and promotion. In a  time when music is discovered online everyday, posting a cover song or video can actually help launch an artist’s career!

16. Run a street team. Gather a group of your most dedicated fans and start a street team. These fans will be your grassroots promoters, so get some unique and innovative ideas together to get your name out there.

17. Take care of your voice (and other instruments). Take our tips for proper voice care and check out Jay Schneider’s Tune Up series for pointers on keeping your instruments in top shape.

18. Hire a manager (when the time is right). One you have a solid following and are making money off your music career, you should consider getting a manager. They can be a huge help in getting ahead in the industry, but they are ultimately a representation of you—so choose carefully!

19. Update your official Web site, don’t ditch it. Don’t forget about your official Web site! It’s the go-to place for accurate and up-to-date information, and should not be replaced by MySpace or Facebook.

20. Have fun! Being in a band is a challenging, time-consuming job, but ultimately, it’s about the music. Remain dedicated, work hard  and stay passionate about your art!

New Music Biz 101: Kickstarter

Finding the money to record an album without a label is a difficult feat for any band. We’ve certainly mentioned the concept of fan funding in the past. Sites like Kickstarter continue to increase in popularity thanks to Internet buzz from independent artists. For those who don’t know, Kickstarter is an online platform that allows music lovers and fans to donate money towards a cause such as recording or touring. The platform isn’t just for musicians, but that’s what we’ll focus on today. More and more success stories are surfacing, and that provides the company with more credibility.

Let’s take a look at a band that’s used the program successfully and learn more about their project. Parachute Musical— one of the many great bands on OurStage—consists of four passionate, fun loving guys who perform keyboard-driven pop music. They’ve toured coast to coast for a few years now and have slowly built a strong and enthusiastic following. Now,
the group released few singles released before they began their Kickstarter campaign, but they were ready to bring their music to their starving fans in full force with an album. With the strong fan base, and Kickstarter’s easy to use platform, the band was wildly successful. They set a goal of $10,000, put together a video explaining the project and the benefits of donating towards the cause, set up some tiered donations and went to work promoting it. Their different tiers ranged from $10 to receive a digital download of the record two weeks before the release all the way to $2,500 or more in which you become an honorary member of the band—gaining free admissions to any show, as well as being flown to spend a day with them in the studio. They actually had one person donate at this tier, which is very impressive.

The band hit the ball out of the park and ended up exceeding their goal—ultimately achieving $16,705 from over 200 backers. We think part of their success was due to their nationwide active fan base, the sincerity of their promotional video about the fundraiser and their well-thought out donation tiers.
To learn more about their story, check out their video here. Have you tried  Kickstart for a  project? Let us know about your experience in the comments.

Behind the Mic: Fan Funding

Being a musician is an expensive occupation. From gas money to rental fees to gear purchases, the costs constantly seem to be racking up, and there never seems to be enough money coming in to offset the expenses.

In the past, you’d probably have to land a bunch of paying gigs (and we all know how rare those are) or sell all your merch just to pay for studio time or tour expenses. Now, you can ask your fans to help you fund your next musical endeavor.

Justin Branam's iPhone Sessions

Sites like Kickstarter.com and SellABand.com allow fans to donate money to their favorite artists and help them fund their next tour, album release or merch order. In return, the artist provides exclusive rewards, which become better as the donation amount increases. For example, a fan who donates $20 to an artist may receive an autographed copy of the finished album, but a fan who donates $1000 may get a private concert at their home.

OurStage artist Justin Branam, who was hailed as an “artist to look out for” by AOL Music, used Kickstarter to finance the making of his new album. His goal was to raise $3000, but with the help of seventy-one fans, he was able to surpass his goal by $275.

In addition to the fundraising itself,  Branam also used technology to create a unique donation incentive: an EP called iPhone Sessions. As you might have guessed, the EP was recorded entirely on Branam’s iPhone, but the album art and promo videos were created on it, as well.

One of seventeen incentives offered for donations to Justin Branam's Kickstarter project.

Branam’s campaign lasted one month and offered fans some incredible incentives, such as having their name in the new album’s liner notes, a record from Branam’s collection or a one-on-one webcam chat with him. Fans who donated money got the prize at that level and also all of the prizes for lower donation amounts (fans could earn all seventeen rewards, plus Branam’s original demo CD from when he was sixteen-years-old, for a donation of $5,000).

Fan funding is the future, and has proven to be successful for many artists like Justin Branam. Not only does it engage fans, but it is a great way to directly reward their support and generosity. Hard work on both sides will pay off,  making the relationship between fan and artist even stronger.

Check out “Dial Tone” from Justin Branam’s iPhone Sessions!

Rock ‘n’ Roll Call: inPassing

Any unsigned band would be proud to sell 13,000 records on their own. Orlando pop-rockers inPassing are especially proud, though, because they sold all of them by chatting up potential fans on the streets, in shopping malls, outside clubs and at festivals.

In 2008, the band released Breathing in the Ash, a five-song EP produced by James Paul Wisner (Dashboard Confessional, Paramore). Ash, which features singles “Say to Me” and “Back Down,” is upbeat, catchy and radio-ready. Boasting anthemic choruses filled with tasteful harmonies and no-frills guitar work, the EP recalls the familiar sounds of Mayday Parade, The Academy Is… and Jimmy Eat World. inPassing’s music is simply no-gimmicks, polished pop rock, and is sure to please fans of all ages.

Though their name may suggest otherwise, inPassing are not about to fade away. They have been performers on the Vans Warped Tour and AbsolutePunk.net marked them as a success story from “The Absolute 100,” their list of favorite lesser known bands. inPassing also received song placement in The Real World: Cancun in the summer of 2009 and appeared in a television commercial on the CW.

Thanks to fan funding on Kickstarter, the band  raised over $10,000 to record their follow up to Ash, titled Then, Now, Always, which will be released later this year. Check out an OurStage-exclusive song from the new album, “Lost Your Faith” in the player below, along with two tracks from Breathing in the Ash!

 


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