That’s the approach southern gospel songwriter Belinda Smith is taking to a live recording she wants to make for her 40th birthday. You can see all the details here, but the gist of the set-up is that the artist sets a goal for funding the album ($10K in this case, with production assistance by sg producer Kevin Ward) and a deadline for contributions and then hustles hard to reach the goal by the appointed time. If the target isn’t met, no one’s credit cards are charged, and it is like it never happened. Cause … well … it won’t have.
It’s an interesting approach, and it will be curious to see if it works (full disclosure: I made a contribution to Smith’s album, not least of all because I’ve enjoyed a good many songs she’s written over the years and figure that I’ve spent enough time complaining about suboptimal music and inferior production from the old way of doing things that a new way is worth my support). But I’m at least as interested in the general concept of seeking alternatives to the old A&R model of artistic development, creation, and production - whether it’s the Kickstarter framework or something else. And apparently others are too. I gather that Warren Barfield and Jill Phillips, among other established performers, have used similar crowdfunding models for their work.
That we even find something novel about the crowdfunding approach to music recordings says a lot more about how pervasive the old music-business model is/was. Because it’s certainly not that these crowdfunded approaches are new. In the early days of mass-produced books, authors or publishers would solicit subscribers to cover the cost of publication prior to production. So in many ways, Kickstarter and similar models are somewhat back-to-the-future approaches.
There are inherent drawbacks here too, of course: whether going homestead to homestead on horseback in colonial New England or sharing a link with Facebook friends or Twitter followers or a digital address book, in both cases there’s the risk of creative insularity or sclerosis if what gets produced is that which me and/or my circle of friends and family like or will support. But given the derivative sameness and soul-destroying artistic impoverishment that has become the hallmark of the old label/A&R model, it’s hard to imagine that a different model could do much worse.Email this Post