Amanda Palmer recently set the record for crowd-sourced fundraising among music-related projects -- a record once held by Five Iron Frenzy -- after the Kickstarter campaign to fund her new record raised $735,000 in about two weeks. The former Dresden Dolls frontwoman served up tickets, copies of the album and private concerts to fans willing to donate. For $10,000, the fortunate fan got to hang out with Palmer for the day, plus have a professionally styled photo shoot together.
While major labels stand around scratching their heads, Kickstarter is yet another example of how the Internet has enabled indie artists with powerful tools to succeed on their own terms. Social media might make it easier for bands to connect with fans, promote projects and book gigs, but without some money -- whether it's buying studio time or earning gas to get to the next gig -- there isn't much to talk about. Dozens and dozens of local acts have used Kickstarter to rally fans' monetary support for projects; we've picked five noteworthy examples of how crowd-funding is helping make the local scene more vibrant. One of these efforts is still in progress, while the others have been fully funded -- and then some.
5. Bop Skizzum
The local seven-piece band that put together the Nerd Prom is trying to raise money right now for its next album. The campaign kicked off late last month, and the outfit is quickly approaching the halfway point in for funding. (In case you don't know, if the act doesn't meet its goal by the deadline, then it walks away empty-handed; it's all or nothing on Kickstarter). If you help invest in their success, you can get anything from a thank-you shout-out on the band's website ($3 or more) to a "Skizzum-a-gram," where the band's horn section will surprise a friend or co-worker with a tune anywhere in the greater metro area ($900 or more).
4. The Autumn Film
The Boulder-based indie-pop trio kicked off its campaign last fall with a goal of raising $8,008 to help record a new album, 8-Track Tape. Levels ranged from the $8 SuperFan pledge (an advance digital copy of the album) to the $8,008 Whole-Kit-and-Kaboodle pledge (a private in-home show by the band, original artwork, digital and physical copies of the album, etc). And while no one pledged more than $1,000, the band was able to generate $8,724 in grassroots donations from 310 fans. The campaign wrapped last September and the album is out now via the band's website.
3. Danielle Ate the Sandwich
Charming indie songstress Danielle Anderson looked to fans to help support the making of her fourth album, Like a King. She promised good music and fart jokes, and delivered on both in the video for her campaign. Appreciating truth in advertising and a quirky sense of humor, the support came pouring in. Anderson was looking to raise $6,000 for recording costs, but ended up with $16,236 when the clock rang midnight on her April 1 deadline. Pledgers got some fun prizes in exchange for their hard-earned cash. For $5, fans got an "I helped keep Danielle Ate the Sandwich off the streets" sticker, while higher bidders earned autographed headshots and T-shirts all the way up to the ukulele she used on her 2010 release Two Bedroom Apartment. Her new record is out June 5, so even if you didn't get in on the ground floor, be sure to check it out.
2. Bob Ferbrache Documentary
While this project didn't raise as much money as some of the other local music campaigns, there are few, if any, who can claim as much impact on the local scene as Bob Ferbrache. While he might not be a household name, his Absinthe Studio, which is located in the house that once belonged to his mom, has shaped the sound of influential acts including Slim Cessna's Auto Club, the Warlock Pinchers, DeVotchKa and Paper Bird, to name just a few. The movie's drive for dollars, which ended in December 2010, was dedicated to funding the completion of an ambitious documentary project by James McElwee, who'd been trying to sit down with the bands, promoters and engineers who had worked with Ferbrache over the years to capture an oral history of Denver's music scene.
1. Five Iron Frenzy
The biggest kickstarter campaign in the local scene is actually one of the most successful music bids in the (relatively brief) history of the site. Maybe there was a lot of pent up demand after Five Iron Frenzy's hiatus, but when the band announced they were taking to the web to fund their next album, the support was off the charts. Needing to raise $30,000 in 30 days, the act drummed up $207,980 in support from fans who were hungry to hear some new music from the influential Christian ska outfit. While a $5 donation got fans an exclusive sticker, a couple of generous donors pledged $1,500, which earned them either the opportunity to sit in on a studio session for a day, or a date with the band members that would include dinner and a round of mini-golf. Beats the hell out of a tote bag.
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