Okay, I know that sounds a bit
melodramatic, but it’s still how I feel, so … I’m leaving it.
My original intent was to write about how it seems like more and more artists are wising up and ditching the standard recording industry method of marketing and distribution for the *much* more up-to-date, modern, intelligent model of DIY distribution and funding.
Marissa Nadler and Samantha Crain are my first two examples. Here we have two amazing artists who want desperately to record music. AND THEY SHOULD. Have you heard these two?! No? Stop what you’re doing. Go to iTunes, Amazon, or wherever you buy your music. Sample their stuff. You’ll be hooked. I promise.
Anyway, these two need your support to record their music. They work hard for their art, and they deserve to be compensated. NOT the RIAA, not some label who will take their talent and rape them repatedly with some pathetic contract that will promise them pennies on the dollar. No–they made the music, they should get the royalties. Long gone are the days where a CD is the required method of distribution. iTunes has gone so far beyond the point of being a good example that I barely feel comfortable using them as an example. PEOPLE WILL PAY FOR THE MUSIC THEY WANT.
And therein lies the rub. How can you get people to want to buy music in an age where freebie sites are literally everywhere? Torrent sites are rampant. Why would someone willingly hand over cash for something that they could probably google and grab for free?
Exhibit A: Marissa Nadler’s site.
Pledge $100 or more
Dying Breeds: Autographed CD and vinyl LP, Digital Download, T-shirt, the never-before-released “Ivy and the Clovers” album on CD, and 4 tickets to a show of your choice.
Did you catch that? 4 tickets to ANY SHOW. ANYWHERE. Now … I’m guessing that if you live in L.A. and you want to see a show in the Catskills, you’re gonna have to pony up the airfare. Or bus. Train. Whatever. You will need to get there yourself. I’m okay with that! Let’s say you live in Denver and the show is in Salt Lake. Plan a road trip! Or if you’re lucky enough to have her come to your city, then you are in *such* luck.
Some of the upper-tier pledge amounts are steep, but hey … free concert? in your home? Yah. That’s worth some big cash. I’d totally do that if had a spare $3500. Not surprisingly, no one has taken her up on that one. Yet.
Exhibit A1. This article. My favorites are the paragraphs about Josh Freese and Moldover. Actually, once you get past the Reznor and Freese portions, it goes in to some amazing stories about others who have used this exact same method. AND this article was written over a year ago. In internet terms, that’s like … 300 years in real time. Or something.
Exhibit B. Samantha Crain.
Similar to Marissa Nadler though not quite on as grand a scale, there are various donation options. $10 gets you a hand-typed note. Nothing big, I guess, other than the fact that you get warm fuzzies for supporting a beautiful musician. Upwards of $75 gets you a song-ette. Now … what I want to know is if that song-ette is specifically written for you, or if it’s just a canned mini-song that says a generic “thanks for your big donation.” If it’s tailored to the person, I’m *ALL* for dropping the money for that. That’s rare, and it’s something NO ONE else will have. To me, that’s worth the money. I’d pay for that. But that might just be me.
So here it is. We’re not even in the age of digital downloads anymore. We’ve past the “free music” era and have moved into the “i’m buying this because I’m getting something rare and unique.” It’s kind of a self-serving notion, but ya know what? We’re gonna buy into this because that’s human nature. We want what others don’t have. We want to have something to call our own. And if that’s a shirt out of Josh Freese’s closet, or a hand-made PCB with light-sensitive noise making CD covers, or a personal concert in your living room, we *want* something unique. We desire to set ourselves apart from others by claiming the right to say, “Hey … someone sent me a personalized song,” or something along those lines. I know I do!