Fan-funded music: Jill Sobule

After a legacy of troubles with record labels, Jill Sobule is turning to her fans.

New or relatively obscure artists might have to turn to an organization like ArtistShare or Sellaband to get listeners to fund a professional-level recording project, but established artists have an easier way: they can ask their fans. (Or have their mothers do it.)

Jill Sobule
Would you pay $500 to have this singer mention your name on her next CD? Jill Sobule

That's what Jill Sobule has done. She's best known for her minor 1995 hit "I Kissed a Girl," but has released several albums since then. Unfortunately, she's had a lot of trouble with her labels--two have gone bankrupt, and another two have dropped her. So to fund her next recording, she's soliciting fans on her site jillsnextrecord.com, and offering them exclusive perks based on how much they give: $25 gets you an advance copy of the CD, $200 gets you into all her shows for a year for free, and $5,000 gets her to play your party. Before the AP published a story about her earlier this week, she'd received more than $54,000 since mid-January; now, she's at more than $66,000.

My only question is: 75,000? She explains that she wants to create a record that "kicks ass"--think big-name producer, professional studio musicians--plus do some serious promotion on it, but that seems pretty expensive for a recording by an independent musician. Money can't necessarily buy a great recording--I've heard amazing full-length LPs recorded with SM-57s and 58s into a Roland VS-880, and we can all think of terrible recordings by artists with enormous budgets. Then again, if she can get that kind of money up front without capitulating to a label, more power to her.

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About the author

    Matt Rosoff is an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, where he covers Microsoft's consumer products and corporate news. He's written about the technology industry since 1995, and reviewed the first Rio MP3 player for CNET.com in 1998. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network. Disclosure. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattrosoff.

     

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