*This is an opinion piece from our editor-in-chief, Shauna “WhiskeyChick” Castorena. The opinions reflected here do not necessarily reflect those of CMNB as a whole.
I will never understand why it is now socially acceptable for bands to crowd fund the recording of an album. I dream one day of being a Hemmingway-esque narrator of life’s great introspect, but if I were to start a crowd fund for my paper, typewriter ribbon and whiskey, that request would fall dead flat in the abyss of the internet.
Let’s take this back one step, and define “crowd funding“. Thanks to the power of the internet, panhandling has now gone high tech. Sites like Indiegogo, Kickstarter, and GoFundMe make it simple to put a dream out there and solicit friends, family, and strangers to donate money to make that dream become a reality. It has its place in the innovative world of product development and charitable causes, but no matter how many reward levels you set up in a campaign, making music is the one place where this kind of fundraising is an insult to the fans that support that art.
Make your art. Present your art. Let the people decide if your art is worth their hard-earned dollars. In my opinion, crowd funding has helped to over-saturate the musical market with bands that didn’t have to work as hard as their predecessors to earn and pay for studio time, production and distribution. There’s a reason “robust self-indulgent artists” doesn’t ever show up on a success story, and “struggling starving artists” do. Hunger makes you mean. It makes you dig. It makes you fight.
I guess I just expect more work upfront and a little more realistic view of band economics. Write music. Practice music. Play music live. Pool your money. Pay for practice space. Practice more. Play better. Play bigger shows. Get paid for shows. Buy merch. Practice more. Write more songs. Play more shows. Sell merch. Get paid for shows. Practice more. Book bigger shows. Promote shows well. Play shows. Sell merch. Buy better merch. Practice more. Book shows. Play shows. Sell merch. Book a tour. Practice more. Promote the tour. Play the tour. Sell merch. Book studio time. Practice more. Play more. Sell more merch. Buy more merch. Play more. Practice more. Record. Play more. Sell more merch. Pay for production and distribution. Play more. Sell more. Play more. Sell more. Play more. Sell more. Go back to go. Do not collect $200 cause your damned van needs new tires.
For those that DO go the crowd funded route, at least know what you’re getting yourself into. Besides most likely making your fans pay twice for the same output (fund my album production, then come buy the album at our shows), you’re also committing to giving away your time, your gear, your future ticket/door sales, digital download sales at full price, AND laying the groundwork for an ugly audit from the IRS.
*I apologize if this offends the individual musicians that I work with, but I’m sure there are many things we don’t agree on, and we can just add this to the list and still get along.