Paying for recorded music is a voluntary act -- you can get almost any tune you want on demand from streaming music services or YouTube. Of course, musicians wind up making little or no money from this arrangement, but thanks to crowd-funding, bands can get paid in advance of making a record. At least initially there are no freeloaders, so the band really has an incentive to record! The same Internet that made it harder than ever to make a living from recorded music has made it possible for bands to directly connect to their fans.
Amanda Palmer has been one of the more successful artists using this approach. Palmer set out to raise $100,000 via Kickstarter to fund a recording and an art book in 2012. Then she hit the jackpot and received nearly $1,200,000 from her backers. Palmer's wildly successful Kickstarter story gets a little murky in the aftermath, but she published an open letter to Morrissey urging the British singer to do a Kickstarter project of his own. In a letter on Salon's Web site, Palmer urged the former Smiths frontman to skip searching for a new record label and fund his next album through his fans.
Guitarist Charlie Hunter, and his mates Steven Bernstein on trumpet, Skerik on sax, and drummer Bobby Previte are working on a Pledge Music crowd funding project with an intriguing title, "#1 Pop Hits Reconstructed." Their newly hatched band, Omaha Diner, is just ramping up, but in their collective 125 years of experience as players, the guys have worked with a remarkable array of artists: Aretha Franklin, Sting, Levon Helm, Linda Ronstadt, Pearl Jam, My Morning Jacket, The San Francisco Ballet, Lou Reed, R.E.M., and Tom Waits are only a few at the top of a very long list. Omaha Diner is a seriously talented band, but they always have a lot of fun.
For "#1 Pop Hits Reconstructed," the backers are choosing pop songs that made it to No. 1 on the Billboard charts, and if the band reaches its funding goal they will produce a limited-edition run of 1,000 LPs. No CDs will be made, but the backers will get an MP3 of the album. Audiophiles take note -- the music will be recorded, mixed, and mastered entirely in analog -- and that's a very rare occurrence nowadays. There will be no Autotuned anything, digital editing, or post-production processing; the band will play live in a studio, and that's it. In addition to the album itself, these incredible musicians are offering music lessons via Skype and signed LP copies, among other premiums. For $500 you can choose a tune they'll play on the LP! Ten dollars buys an MP3 download of the album.
Pledge Music has a number of funding projects, look around and maybe you find something that strikes your fancy.