Is Funding Your Album on Kickstarter Insulting and Wrong?

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CORRECTION (12/21, 1:15 p.m.): Kickstarter uses Amazon's payment system to process its transactions, but it is a privately owned company, not a division of the publicly held Amazon.

I do a monthly Kickstarter round-up on Art Attack because I really do think that crowdsourcing is a great way to get projects off of the ground that might otherwise never see the light of day. Some wonderful independent video games, for example, exist because of crowd-funding, and it is certainly the only way that awesome-looking film Goon is going to get made because no studio in their right mind is going to finance it since it will almost certainly not make very much money.

One thing I see a lot is bands wanting to raise money to record albums, and frankly every time I do I get a little angry, not least because they seem to want an ungodly amount of dough to lay down an LP -- $8,000 and more in some cases for local bands. What the hell kind of music are you recording? Full orchestral scores?

Look, I know that my own work as a musician comes from a band that thought having to do a third take for a song was the will of Hitler, but I have put out three full-length albums plus EPs in a project that at its height boasted six members. The recording process never topped a grand, even including mastering.

So when I see local acts seeking the equivalent of a basic-model Toyota sedan, it makes me think of a few things.

First, that you are trying to play way above your station. Yes, you can go down to SugarHill and drop some serious cash on high-end recording equipment. You can also find people willing to do it for $25 an hour all over the city. But you don't inherit greatness from the studio itself, and home recording has never been easier anyway. Big-money studios come from being a big-money acts. Skipping to that stage ain't going to help you any.

If you're a local band spending $8,000 on recoding an album, then I promise you need to rehearse more and have your act together like a well-oiled machine before you go in. That's where a lot of the money in recording seems to go... fiddling around when the clock is ticking.

The thing that really melts the candy in my pants, though, is that asking for money to record seems like begging at best, and a scam at worst. It honestly feels like you aren't invested enough in your own work to cover the most basic act of creation.

Not that I'm against musical Kickstarters entirely. If Poe or Andrew Eldritch started one tomorrow so we'd finally have a new album after years of silence, I'd sign up. If a local band had already recorded an album, but wanted to raise some dough for a good music video, a spectacular release party, or some inventive packaging I'd probably be down.

But to me, recording an album is the very foundation of being a musician, and that's your responsibility. Kickstarter is for funding things that otherwise can't happen, and your average Christian prog-metal band can lay down ten tracks without my help.

On the other hand, I don't speak for all the musicians in the world. Visit Page 2 for some thoughts from others.

La Catrin: I personally have not done it, but if after exhausting all other avenues and it is m last resort, then maybe I would. Mexican pride.

Tianna Hall: I don't like the idea of doing it myself. The thought of it makes me feel icky. But, if that's the only way some people can get a recording project done, more power to them.

Robert McCarthy, From Beyond: I have a job, and make sacrifices to put out music. I have never put my hand out unless I was offering something in return.

Lotus Effect: If four to six members of a band can't pool together enough resources to record an album, what the hell are they asking other people for?

Alexis Hoillada (Project Armageddon): Almost all of the bands I know are independent, unsigned bands that sound great and are decent, friendly groups who are supportive of other bands and other artisits of different styles and tastes. Some of them are in a financial state that allows them to fund themselves others may have very limited personal funds available to even attempt a simple one song demo let alone a full length record that has any hopes of a decent quality sound to it.

Even with today's home recording, it still takes a know how to get good tracking and tones just to record let alone mix or master. Why should some band who is really making an effort and has a great sound be put down by anybody because they utilize a platform that would enable them to achieve their goals if recording is that goal?

Bill Royall (Royall Encore Music): It's insulting, wrong, unoriginal and unproductive to attempt to insult via hype and self-promotion.

Jerry Ochoa, Two Star Symphony: Kickstarter is a subsidiary of Amazon and its purpose is to drive people with disposable income to create Amazon.com accounts. That's why they don't accept credit or debit - those payment methods help the artist raise money but don't create new Amazon customers. By only accepting pledges through Amazon, they get your donor data including credit card info, credit info and personal contact info, whether or not you reach your target goal.

To me, crowdsourcing is a pretty cool option and certainly no more degrading than any other form of arts fundraising (with a lot of nice relationship-building possibilities). Kickstarter, on the other hand, is just a well-marketed (and disguised) way for a mega-corporation to leech money and info from the already-struggling arts fundraising scene.

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