Should Bands Use Kickstarter to Fund Their Releases? Here Are Two Fiercely Opposing Views About That

Categories: Tech

limousines-kickstarter-grab.jpg
The Limousines' Kickstarter page.
It's a hallmark of the Kickstarter era: musical artists -- like, most famously, Amanda Palmer --- gather donations from their fanbase on the crowdfunding website in order to produce a new album. In exchange, the fans get special swag and recognition from the artists, such as having their names printed in the liner notes, handwritten letters from the artist, custom album packaging, or having the artist perform an intimate show in their town.

Palmer set a record by raising more than $1 million through her Kickstarter appeal earlier this year. But not everyone is a fan of artists using fans to pre-fund their projects -- some say it's a form of welfare for musicians.

Such was the case made by local blogger Matt DeMello in a Twitter exchange and subsequent interview with Eric Victorino, frontman of South Bay electro-pop duo the Limousines. The Limos are using Kickstarter to raise $30,000 for their new album, Hush, instead of going through a label, as the band has done for previous releases. (Their campaign has already raised more than $36,000, with 20 days remaining.)

After Victorino mentioned his Kickstarter appeal on Twitter, DeMello questioned his approach, arguing that such campaigns are unethical, because the band stands to make money on a product that was invested in by fans, while the fans stand to make nothing on their investment. With a record label, DeMello argued in his interview with Victorino, "the consumer knows what it is they're getting."

Victorino responded that Kickstarter donations aren't investments: "It's a thank you gift, and at the very lowest levels, it's a chance to pre-order an album from a band they already know they like. If I were on the other side of this, a fan of The Limousines, I would love to be a part of helping them find another way to release their music if I knew they'd been burned by record labels in the past."

Victorino broke down the various payments that come out of a retail-purchased CD, claiming that, for a $10 CD, the artist stood to make about 60 cents -- before taxes.

To which DeMello argued:

What you're doing is going to your fans and saying, "Give us your money, we'll give you a CD and we will profit from it." Why not use your own money? Why not take out a loan yourself and put faith in your own talents recouping your own money? Why go to the fans and say, "give us your money so we don't have to give that money to the labels." What you fail to mention in your breakdown is money received from touring, merchandise, and signing bonuses...

You say it has nothing to do with investments, but it really does. These fans are investing in you; they are giving their money so that you can subvert the record companies and make more money yourself.

At this point, things get really heated, devolving into an angry back-and-forth: "What fucking decade are you living in, man?" Victorino asks. "How many record deals have you had? How many have been what you wanted them to be? I've had three in my lifetime and I think I deserve to try a different route. Do you know how much money a band that isn't huge makes on tour? Sometimes nothing."

It continues from there: DeMello asks if Victorino finds the Kickstarter appeal "embarrassing," noting that the band may make money off the deal by licensing new songs to big companies like Toyota or Kraft. Victorino responds by arguing that all bands need time and money to do their work. Getting a label to contribute that means signing over rights to the music for years, he says, and often getting only the barest amount necessary to pay for a studio and a producer, leaving the band in debt to the label for other costs.

Whatever side you think is right, we've rarely seen the ethical arguments for and against Kickstarter-funded albums laid out so passionately. You can read the whole conversation here.

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Follow us on Twitter @SFAllShookDown, follow Ian S. Port @iPORT, and like us at Facebook.com/SFAllShookDown.


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42 comments
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Hitler
Hitler

TL;DR

 

if people want to squander their money on paying for your shitty record, power to them.

 

what's the problem? is someone butthurt because they can't get funded? it's probably because you make bad music. 

 

htormey
htormey

@ladytragik which side do you take re kickstarter?Do you think its okay for an artist to raise money from fans to finance future projects?

jamestouzel
jamestouzel

@BlissesB @SFAllShookDown I can't believe people got beef w/kickstarter! Gives mad power&freedom 2the artist. Don't donate if your not down.

CrashingPlate
CrashingPlate

@MattKDeMello ur saying if sell enuf downloads 2pay 4production then u stop & no profit? [I come from hightech]

MattKDeMello
MattKDeMello

@CrashingPlate my point is why not pay for it yourself & why does ki @kickstarter not cap at the goal?

CrashingPlate
CrashingPlate

@MattKDeMello my grants/investors got me there! I still worked 7days/wk for about 4 yrs but cldn't have done it w/o them!

CrashingPlate
CrashingPlate

@MattKDeMello BTW can I get info about ur recordings? wld luv 2 buy one!

CrashingPlate
CrashingPlate

@MattKDeMello ok...I need to re-think this!!!! I am So upset!!!!

CrashingPlate
CrashingPlate

@MattKDeMello I mostly used sweat equity about 87% so I owe back the balance....got I see what ur saying........

CrashingPlate
CrashingPlate

@MattKDeMello I am SO sorry yes,...it was charity ....I failed OMG I am soooooooou upset ...can we get the eyeballs back???

MattKDeMello
MattKDeMello

@CrashingPlate if u are just handed the money w no accountability to investors then it is charity.

CrashingPlate
CrashingPlate

@MattKDeMello okk I am SO sorry I invented lasers with other people's & grant money NOW see what your saying....I'm scum!!!!!!

MattKDeMello
MattKDeMello

@CrashingPlate sigh...no if they sell 10 million having paid for it themselves or w the label's help then it is NOT charity. However,

CrashingPlate
CrashingPlate

@MattKDeMello ROI - so u pre-buy a tune 4 $1, and u get a tune u like, is that good ROI?

CrashingPlate
CrashingPlate

@MattKDeMello depends on view, but most @Kickstarter projects are NOT donation but pre-buying a product

MattKDeMello
MattKDeMello

@CrashingPlate equitable return on that investment? Many would say no, I happen to be one of them.

CrashingPlate
CrashingPlate

@MattKDeMello I am SO confused...if someone sells 10 millions records ur saying they have not contributed to the success?

MattKDeMello
MattKDeMello

@CrashingPlate it is by their own admission a donation. Which is in turn charity. U may receive a gift for ur donation by is that an

MattKDeMello
MattKDeMello

@CrashingPlate no because they have paid or the label has towards that effort. By giving $ to them w out them paying for their own success

CrashingPlate
CrashingPlate

@MattKDeMello actually I think moot point...I dont' see many bands getting much over goal...

CrashingPlate
CrashingPlate

@MattKDeMello wait...how do they not contribute? if u pre-buy on iTunes is that charity?

MattKDeMello
MattKDeMello

@CrashingPlate No it's charity when u pay someone to profit & they don't contribute to their own advancement.

CrashingPlate
CrashingPlate

@MattKDeMello I'm putting together an investment group for building microwireless sensors 4corrosion ...we shld talk!!

CrashingPlate
CrashingPlate

@MattKDeMello isn't it kinda like CSA - I pre-pay in winter 4 share in farmer's yield...

CrashingPlate
CrashingPlate

@MattKDeMello wait...so if you pre-order something - & get delivery when expected - it's charity? how so?

CrashingPlate
CrashingPlate

@MattKDeMello but is pre-buying an investment? Sorry I come from high tech & differentiate

MattKDeMello
MattKDeMello

@CrashingPlate otherwise it's just charity.

MattKDeMello
MattKDeMello

@CrashingPlate right, but they aren't working aside from that. Also, personally if I'm going to invest I want a return on my investment

CrashingPlate
CrashingPlate

@MattKDeMello but then others can't buy CD in advance?

CrashingPlate
CrashingPlate

@MattKDeMello oh! I ddin't know that! so u can pre-order on itunes? interesting!!

MattKDeMello
MattKDeMello

@CrashingPlate no, in fact u could. Notice that iTunes, Amazon & Google Play all allow preorders & the band could do so on their own site.

.erinnn.
.erinnn.

This seems so silly. The whole point of Kickstarter is that it's a gauge of public interest in specific projects. If a project gets funded, it means there is enough interest. The people have spoken; they want an album from these guys. Doesn't it stand as a criticism of the FANS to say that their giving direct support to an artist or band's project is a bad thing? Hell, I'm not even certain how you could call this "unethical" considering that it's not mandatory that anyone contribute funds.Also, it's terribly disheartening to hear that people are actually calling artists greedy for wanting to make a living wage, while standing in support of the old industry model. Just because the infrastructure is there doesn't mean artists MUST use it, nor does it means it works as it should. In this case, the music industry has time and again proven itself to be rotten to its core; most musicians keep their day jobs because labels (and everyone else in the distro chain) historically take the lion's share.

shittyDJ
shittyDJ

@iPORT that guy is a douche. dig through his comment replies on his site and you can tell he obviously hasn't researched anything.

MattKDeMello
MattKDeMello

@shittyDJ well I have researched plenty & I think I offer a valid point.

shittyDJ
shittyDJ

@MattKDeMello you replied to a commenter: "why can't they just make it on a computer like everyone else?" they are dummy. watch the video.

shittyDJ
shittyDJ

@MattKDeMello you are a moron. i'm not wasting my time with someone who doesn't have a valid argument. read up first.

CrashingPlate
CrashingPlate

@MattKDeMello well, how do u raise funds when ur working on project? I built laser 4Lasik but cld not hold down day job while inventing!

MattKDeMello
MattKDeMello

@shittyDJ Then why do they need $30k dummy? Release it digitally & (heaven forbid) pay for it yourself. Go back to college radio fanboy

EricVictorino
EricVictorino

@iPORT @mattkdemello @kickstarter - two opinions, one from someone informed and involved and one with no perspective but to be antagonistic

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