time to change the way we view music and the arts

Put the “Fun” Back in Funding

Happy 2012 readers!

Now that we’ve all settled into the first week of our new year, I thought, why not start things off with a post that has a bit of a “kick?” With a new year comes many of the usual suspects: resolutions, bursts of creativity, renewed hopes, and sudden urges to do daring things we’ve never done before –because we can.

Though fiscal years don’t tend to follow the January to December calendar, that’s not to say that a fresh pile of 365 days doesn’t get the wheels turning in the minds of those arts administration frontmen for ways to also reinvigorate –their respective companies that is. As I talked a lot about HERE on arts funding, this is a topic that never really goes away; just might hit a stronger stride and get alleviated at certain times over others. The key thing for many of the left-brained activities and affiliated organizations of the world (right now) is to hone in on the outlet that best helps patrons, listeners and fans feel a true connection when giving of money is involved. Saying you gave money to something you support/like and then never seeing that dollar again absolutely, positively will never cut it. So the result is not to compete for people’s wallets but for what the action from reaching into their wallets will mean. Transparency and results. The more of this, the better.

Case in point?

I came across a now finished campaign, (there’s a common fundraiser term now, run for your life! …Just kidding.) for a very ‘do-it-yourself’ alternative rock band from Minneapolis, Minnesota, called Quietdrive. Quietdrive has been turning out records on its own label for a couple of years now, with 2 albums and an EP to show for it. At the same time, Quietdrive has been working together since 2002, so it’s not as if this group has just plugged their DI box into the mixing board last week. They just like do-it-yourself work and seem to be handling it well. Anyway, I digress…

The campaign I found was executed through the popular fundraising platform Kickstarter. Quoted directly from their website, Kickstarter’s main purpose is as follows:

“Kickstarter is the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects. Every week, tens of thousands of amazing people pledge millions of dollars to projects from the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, food, publishing and other creative fields.

A new form of commerce and patronage. This is not about investment or lending. Project creators keep 100% ownership and control over their work. Instead, they offer products and experiences that are unique to each project.

All or nothing funding. On Kickstarter, a project must reach its funding goal before time runs out or no money changes hands. Why? It protects everyone involved. Creators aren’t expected to develop their project without necessary funds, and it allows anyone to test concepts without risk.

Each and every project is the independent creation of someone like you. Projects are big and small, serious and whimsical, traditional and experimental. They’re inspiring, entertaining and unbelievably diverse. We hope you agree… Welcome to Kickstarter!

Thanks! All done.

Quietdrive had taken to Kickstarter during the summer of this past year and asked its fans to donate money for funding of a new covers-only album they would record if they reached their goal by the deadline of July 31, 2011. True to Kickstarter’s principles, in return for these pledges, supporters all received votes (1 dollar=1 vote) for the songs the band should put on the track list. It didn’t matter what the song was; Quietdrive promised to do whatever songs attained the most votes. In addition to the direct voting power, copies of the album, autographs, posters and, even a guaranteed stop at your town within 1 year, was offered for donations reaching certain levels. (The concert stop was bestowed to one seriously financially supportive individual who donated at the 2,000 dollar level.)

Though things were cut extremely close, the goal of $15,000 was met and exceeded “just two hours before their deadline.” (Cit. HERE.)

This is a great example of transparency, results, direct-to-fan relations and use of Kickstarter to its full potential. The fact that an amply successful band can still put together a project in a way that is dictated completely by everyday individuals rather than a small board, label or corporate figurehead, makes them stand out just a tiny bit more than perhaps their large label counterparts. Quietdrive might not move the most product or be headlining at the Grammys but handing some power over to the people who make them what they are in the public eye obviously hasn’t hurt them. This methodology runs in line with similar creative ventures that make supporters feel included and connected to the art form itself and not just the stuff around it generated through money. After all, not every patron is necessarily of the artistic nature but if you give them the chance to feel that way once in a while, that can spur a whole new appreciation for the company they support.

On a very basic level, it’s kind of like the psychology behind getting to role play. I mean, just look at how popular Guitar Hero was (in addition to all the games that spun off of it): a game that had people striving for “expert” modes on a guitar shaped controller powered by colored buttons rather than tuned strings. Nonetheless, it made people feel cool and special, even if just for a short time or a particular moment. Who doesn’t like to feel cool?
Come on now….

In the end, Quietdrive covered an interesting mix of newer and more classic songs that crossed a couple of genres. The winning 10 tracks are HERE and the album can be downloaded from iTunes.

The lead vocalist, Kevin Truckenmiller, definitely has a distinct sound to his voice, so these are, as they said,
“[Not] just covers that [they] play. [They’re] covers with the twist of [their] ideas and zest of [their] abilities.” (Cit. HERE.)

I personally find it amusing to see Bruce Hornsby’s “Mandolin Rain” tracked next to Muse’s “Uprising”

Quietdrive – Uprising Cover

Muse – Uprising

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