When you or I get hit up to finance someone's 12-vinyl disc, pearl handled, hand-carved boxed sets, it will be officially time to pronounce the fan-funding phenomenon dead. Jason Woodbury profiled Kickstarter a few weeks ago, and here we can see it working rather successfully for Loyal Wife, a brand new band formed by David Jansen and Ashley Taylor (formerly of Before Braille, Art for Starters) and featuring a studio band of comprised of three-fourths of Awake and Alert (Spencer Reed, Blake Kimball and Sam Hardwig). They've been asked to join and the band's first proper show will be the CD release party set to take place in March.
We caught Jensen after a vocal cutting session at Flying Blanket Studios and he offered some handy tips for future art starters and possible directions that the fund collecting site might go.
Up on the Sun: So initially, you had planned to just secure funds for an EP but it's sounding more like you're doing a full length now? Was the promise of giving your benefactors a foot massage too great for too many to pass up? (Note: foot massages are not currently being offered, but the band will write a record a personal apology for you for a grand, a stone bargain in this sorry age).
Dave Jensen: It was initially going to be an EP but things are going so well and our Kickstarter pledges are going so well too , we thought these people have been so cool and helpful, we want to try to get them a full length record, to give them the better reward. The idea of Kickstarter came first and that gave us some confidence that we could actually afford the studio.It wasn't until the pledges started flying in that we booked more studio time.
What the fans get as the contributions get larger is a lot more expansive than the usual "CD-and-Your-Name-in-the-thank-you-in-the-credits" incentive.
We wanted the thank them properly and what's the best way to do that? My grandmother has all these cool 100 year-old recipes that have been in her family and so what's better than sitting down have dinner with some people and provide them some good nourishment? My grandmother's from the deep South so she grew up with a plantation lifestyle almost.
How many people have pledged $350 for the Loyal Wife deal-a-meal?
I believe we have three people in for that. The most popular incentive is the standard 20- 40 pledge which gets you the record before the release date and an exclusive T-shirt you can only get as a pledger. Then we give people a chance to spend the day in the studio with us for $100. We've actually had a few people come by already. Some people out of state can't come in that time frame but we'll set something up for them in the future. Almost every reward, if you pledge over a certain amount you get every reward under it. If you pledged 100 you also get to be in our video. There are certain pledges where you get your photo in our album artwork.I can't remember what the amount was but you can actually name a song or the album ($1,000).
Now having done it, what do you think was the biggest factor in getting the bulk of contributions?
The huge benefit was that we did record a song beforehand. Ashley and I worked together in Art for Starters and when that band kind of fizzled out, we kept in touch and I had a bunch of songs I wanted to work with and one song ("Ivory") in particular I heard her voice on. I was taking a recording class at Mesa Community College and one of the students needed a band for their assignment so I did it with Ashley. It went really well so that's when I decided to book the time with Bob Hoag at Flying Blanket, that was mid-August. Having that song sort of worked as a teaser and the video gave people an idea what the band was gonna sound like. I've found that video are probably the most important element of kickstarter and we had a pretty solid one to show we're serious, we're gonna work hard but not take ourselves too seriously.
Is there a danger of there being a glut of bands doing Kickstarter, like too many panhandler in one subway car?
That's a good analogy. Pretty soon that subway car starts to stink. I think Kickstarter's going to become more of a business launch pad, more than an artistic one. Since we've had success, we've seen bands say "Oh we're gonna do Kickstarter" and there are bands we know that have already had success before us as well. I think it's gonna get to the point where people are just gonna get annoyed and they're gonna hide. I've seen some people who are doing Kickstarter that already have expensive videos, which doesn't seem to suit the struggling artist model. Because there's so much music out there to choose from, I think it's important to have solid pledges that target people who are already gonna buy your record so they'll want it in advance. Right now I'm seeing people designing handbags and collecting funds on Kickstarter, it's almost a smarter way to eBay, personally. And financing documentaries, especially of a political nature, it's ideal for that.
What you raised, is it just for the studio costs?
Our initial recording cost amount was $4,950 but now we need almost 10 grand for mastering, pressing, setting up the website, printing T-shirts. We're close to 6 grand now.
Is there a stigma attached to a new band or project if they don't reach the goal?
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I don't think there is a stigma but it would be disappointing. We've had a good response because I haven't done something musically in a few years and the people who have liked what I've done in the past don't mind dropping 20 to 40 dollars to get something new. One thing that was scary and this is embarrassing to admit but I didn't read on the website the fine print that if you don't reach your goal you get nothing. But it's smart to set it up that way so you don't have some guy that didn't it then decides he's going to put the balance of the money pledged towards "band expenses." Like eating out with his girlfriend for a week. It's all or nothing.