x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Crowdsourced money gets musicians more mobile than ever

From financing everything from touring to distribution, music fans have more control than ever before thanks to the growth of crowdfunding.

The band Cowgill used the GigFunder service to book their tour. Sarah Barges
The band Cowgill used the GigFunder service to book their tour. Sarah Barges

When musicians first embraced the concept of crowdfunding late last decade, it was all about albums. Fans would pay in advance to help finance the making of a record and eventually receive a finished copy, with larger donators often acquiring extra rewards, from rare merchandise to live gigs in their own homes.

Albums are still crowdfunding's major musical focus, but the format is rapidly evolving: there are new sites dedicated to live tours, distribution and even completely fan-funded record labels. As you can see from the following examples, modern musicians can now get much of their career crowdfunded. If, of course, they can attract a big enough crowd.

THE UK TOUR: Detourjam

How it works

Specifically designed for live music lovers frustrated that their favourite acts never play locally, this UK site allows fans to decide where bands will tour by agreeing to pre-buy a ticket. The first destinations to reach a specified amount of pledges host the gigs, although, admittedly, bigger cities can still dominate.

Any success stories?

Well-established acts have also used Detourjam to get their fans more involved. The electro-poppers Hot Chip added one extra date to their forthcoming tour from a choice of three towns they had never visited before. The neglected folks of Folkestone in the UK won out.

www.detourjam.com

 

THE US TOUR: GigFunder

How it works

An American variation on the Detourjam model. Campaigns for gigs in particular cities can be launched by either bands or fans, who will "influence the music scene in their own town like never before", according to the GigFunder chief executive Matt Pearson. Rather than Detourjam's predetermined ticket prices, here fans can pay extra for more elaborate rewards.

Any success stories?

The Boston indie band Cowgill has funded an album via the huge Kickstarter site before turning to GigFunder for their tour, which is now 100 per cent financed, too. Fans who pledged $100 (Dh370) get to do handclaps on stage and for $200 the band will play a cover song of the pledger's choice.

www.gigfunder.com

 

THE LABEL: My Major Company

How it works

It may sound like a child's playset but My Major Company is actually a working, fan-funded record label, founded in France and now with a UK branch. Users can "invest" in a promising artist, then watch the royalties roll in when their releases, hopefully, sell millions.

Any success stories?

The French singer-songwriter Grégoire had huge success with his MMC-backed debut album Toi + Moi, recorded thanks to the €6,000 (Dh27,450) raised by several hundred investors. Many of them featured in the video for the title track.

www.mymajorcompany.com

 

THE DISTRIBUTION: PledgeMusic

How it works

Already one of the bigger crowdfunding sites, this UK/US service is now looking beyond its original album-financing premise to the next stage of the process: getting that record to the rest of the public. PledgeMusic has joined up with the Fontana-backed INgrooves for marketing, distribution and all the important technical stuff that goes along with getting music in the shops.

Any success stories?

Some big names have campaigns ongoing at the time of writing, notably the much-admired American bands Luscious Jackson and Ben Folds Five, whose projects have rocketed past their target amounts. Sadly, this site does not divulge the actual figures.

www.pledgemusic.com

 

THE CREATIVE TEAM: Oocto

How it works

Another oddly named French concern, Oocto is both a crowdfunding site and a sort of professional matchmaking service. Alongside the requisite appeal for cash are pages where artists can ask fans to give out flyers or sell merchandise, as well as advertise for illustrators, photographers, designers and the like.

Any success stories?

The Parisian vocalist Harlem Harl was hoping to raise €10,000 (Dh45,750) in four months, but made more than that in six weeks. His explanation as to how it would be spent was pleasingly detailed. "The mix, the mastering," he began, "the remuneration of technicians, travel expenses, the catering …"

www.oocto.com

 

THE WORKS: TuneFund

How it works

This new US site aims to cover all bases for the aspiring musician, including "recording, video production, touring, marketing, merchandise, website development, and any other career-related expense that needs to be covered". The site is still to fully launch, though.

Any success stories?

No campaigns have actually been advertised yet, as the founders first try to build public awareness, and they have a point. There is no sadder sight than a neglected crowdfunding campaign.

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