Crowdfunding Campaigns of the Week: Julia Nunes, Jethro Tull, and Vic Chesnutt
As 2017 begins, the state of the music industry is in as much flux has it has been in years. With a push from the Recording Academy, musicians have taken their fight for fair compensation to the halls of Congress. But what isn’t being mentioned in this conversation is the slow but continual rise of crowdfunding as a relatively new source of income for artists. Originally for indie bands needing to raise capital for recording projects, crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and PledgeMusic have increasingly become the last bastion for paying customers, with artists offering rare and signed memorabilia, as well as behind the scenes updates, in exchange for increasingly rare physical or digital purchases. In this space, I scour the crowdfunding sites each week to bring you some of the newest and most noteworthy roots-oriented campaigns.
Like many roots musicians before him, the genius of Vic Chesnutt never translated into significant mainstream success. Always a “songwriter’s songwriter”, Chesnutt’s alternately haunting and funny tales caught the ears of alternative pioneers R.E.M., who championed his early work. After his tragic death in 2009, Chesnutt’s legacy has grown among a new generation of songwriters and now New West Records is honoring his legacy with vinyl reissues of his Texas Hotel years. Each month between January and June, a new album will be released on 180g colored vinyl, followed by a “surprise release” later in the year. Backers can buy only the individual album that interests them or subscribe to get all of them sent as they are released.
It’s no surprise that Julia Nunes is raising funds for her next album via the relatively new medium of crowdfunding. The folk-pop artist’s initial mainstream breakthrough came via a series of viral YouTube videos featuring Nunes and her ukulele taking on both original material and covers. Now, after some significant life changes have caused her to re-evaluate long held relationships, Nunes is ready to pour it all out into her new album. Backer rewards include polaroid snapshots of Nunes taken during the making of the record, a concert sized ukulele case, and a customized ukulele that Nunes will draw designs on after interviewing you via Skype.
While Ian Anderson’s Jethro Tull is known more in progressive rock circles than in roots music circles, Tull has always retained an element of folk-rock that endeared them to roots fans and you’ll find many a Jethro Tull devotee among Americana faithful. For his new album, Anderson is revisiting a number of Jethro Tull’s classic songs, re-arranged by the Carducci Quartet to be performed with a string section. Recorded in the crypts of Worcester Cathedral, the album will include re-invented Tull standards like “Aqualung”, “Locomotive Breath”, and “Bungle in the Jungle.” There aren’t a lot of backer rewards for this, just a chance to get a copy of the album, signed or not, on CD and LP.