“I work two jobs, and my car doesn’t have a front bumper,” said Oklahoma City rapper Jabee Williams. “I’m a real-life person.”
But crowd-funding website Kickstarter.com gives musicians worldwide the opportunity to release the same quality product as major labels.
“Basically, it takes the place of a record label,” said Brandon Lovelace, lead singer of local pop band Theatre Breaks Loose, which used Kickstarter to raise funds for the promotion of its latest album, Stranger Places, Greater Things. “It’s enabling musicians to let fans be the record label, and what better people could you ask be behind you than the people who believe so much in you that they put their money where their mouth is?”
Kickstarter pools money from supporters to help creative projects find financial backing to get off the ground. If the artists’ target amount is raised, they receive the money. If not, the artist receives nothing, and the backers aren’t charged for their donation.
“What I really like is the ‘all or nothing’ thing,” said Williams, who’s currently asking for $25,000 in pledges by April 21 to record a new album. “It pushes people. The reason why I aimed so high is because I budgeted for everything. I wanted it to be an industry level product.”
More than just warm fuzzies convince fans to donate. Escalating levels of support are associated with increasingly valuable prizes, going from an advanced download to a signed hard copy to sitting in at the studio during the recording and more.
For $500, Jabee will write a personalized song just for you.
“If you’re a part of it, you listen to it even more and enjoy it even more,” Williams said. “To me, that kind of thing is dope.”
Even still, musicians feel like they are getting the better end of the deal, being able to support their music and feel the love from fans.
“We gave away drumheads and stuff we used on the album, and that’s cool for fans, but they gave us a story,” Lovelace said. “We get to look a label in the eye and say, ‘Our fans supported this album. We don’t have to have you; our fans believe in us enough to make it happen.’”