Good Idea or Bad Idea? Kickstarters

The music industry is changing.  Everyone with a pulse and a love of music should know that by now.  Artists are dealing with that in unconventional ways, often going with one “pay what you want” model or another, while connecting their tweets to facebook and tumblr while their geeked out myspace profiles are becoming less and less relevant to the scene.  Meanwhile, they are trying to somehow avoid debt while going from one show to the next as the economy hurts their fan base from coming out to see them and music sales drop year by year.

To deal with the situation that is prevalent from top to bottom, one trend that has been hitting the mean streets of twitter lately is a little site called kickstarter.  To make a long explanation short, this is a way for fans to support artists by pre-pre-pre-ordering an album.  What?  Kickstarter is used by more than just musicians, but essentially artists and bands are able to go without label support by having fans pay for an album’s recording process.  In return, they can get anything from an early download of the album to a vacation with the artists in the Bahamas, provided they pay the right amount and the artist is creative.

When this first started getting popular, it seemed like the greatest thing since the iPod for the music fan.    Think about it, you ensure that your favorite artist gets to put out a great album without putting them in some huge debt to a label and without all that money being wasted by the middleman (I’m talking to you, iTunes, but I won’t speak ill of Amazonmp3 because they have much better deals).  What could go wrong?

One thing could go wrong.  Just like when your parents signed up for facebook, something can always ruin a good thing.  In this case, it wasn’t that the model is anything short of great in itself.  The problem is that everyone eventually found out about it.  Not just amazing bands like Showbread that got funded in a few days because they have a solid fanbase after years and years of dedication and touring and solid release after solid release.  They’re not the problem, they’re the reason kickstarters are great.  No, the problem is that bands with 307 facebook “likes” figured they could jump on the trend.  Then they decided to spam everyone like when myspace was in its heyday, tweeting every day about their kickstarter that everyone is trying to ignore, having their friend bands retweeting them, while when you finally look at their link you see that they’ve raised $248 out of the $3,300 that they need when their time runs out next Tuesday.

If this is the case for your band, it is because you haven’t earned the right to be doing this.  You need a fanbase.  A dedicated one that needs your music like they need their next breath.  You need to have already changed lives with your music.  Even if you have talent and you might make a decent album (there are tons of talented, unsigned bands out there that could make something solid with a little bit of cashola), it doesn’t mean that people want to take a chance on an unproven winner.  The reason why this thing exists in the first place is that the economy and industry are in shambles.  The solution isn’t for sixteen year olds to spend money on an album that will come out in eight months on a band that hasn’t proven themselves.

If this is you, stop being the problem.  If you want success, earn it.  Work for it.  Save up money with a real job and put something out yourself.  Then tour like crazy.  Use social networks for good, not for lazy and annoying.  Your music might be awesome, but we’ll all appreciate it if we find that out the right away.

What do you all think about kickstarters?  Let me know in the comments.


6 responses to “Good Idea or Bad Idea? Kickstarters

  1. duke15 January 15, 2011 at 7:59 am

    Good thoughts.
    As you said, I think it’s a good platform for artists that have an established fan base.

    Personally, the only time I’ll chip in is if I either LOVE the band.. or I can get a little bonus like vinyl that won’t be available without donating.

    Thinking about the young band that do that.. and raise $350 of the $4,5000 they need. They don’t get a dime. Wouldn’t they do better to do their own form of a kickstarter. Use the same ideas (for every $10 you get the album tracks emailed to you a month before the release, $30 gets you a t-shirt and the album) Then if they only raise $350, they at least get to keep that. But then again, if they only have $350, they won’t be recording an album.

  2. chria w January 15, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    i was going to start one to fund the release of the new ursa and then i thought about it. really it was stupid. i dont have a huge fan base i recorded it myself and while it is being mixed and mastered by a producer it still isnt going to cost alot because i did most of the work. so in the end who am i to ask for the few hundred its going to cost when i can fund it myself from my job

  3. Tyler Hess January 16, 2011 at 2:08 am

    Chris, I’m glad you figured it out yourself, unlike too many bands. even if you forgot how to spell your own name.

  4. BMer January 25, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    I’m pretty sure that if you don’t reach your goal, then you get nothing, the money that was raised go back to the donors. so if that’s the case then the band that has 300 “Likes” on facebook could give it a shot, and when they likely fail it will be a reality check that maybe they need to put more time, effort, dedication and blood-sweat-tears before they ask their fanbase to fund their record.

  5. Tyler Hess January 25, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    it is true that they would not get the money if they dont reach whatever dollar amount they set, but really if you haven’t established yourselves as a band with solid support then why waste everyone’s time and patience with your band by begging for bucks and set a bad precedent for your band’s potential success?

  6. Kathy M January 25, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    Interesting perspective on Kickstarter. Personally, I like the opportunity to support artists. But I only participate in campaigns when I truly believe in the artist and support the music. Kickstarter is a rising platform for artists who have established the trust of their fanbase vs. those artists who are using any social network/marketing idea in desperation to get their name out. It’s pretty easy to sniff out those artists who aren’t sincere. The Waiting Kind is doing a great job with their Kickstarter by posting video updates. You can tell that their hearts are in the work they are doing and they truly appreciate their fans. That’s the kind of project I want to support.

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