CROWDFUNDING RADAR: Creative Ideas from David Bromberg, Steve Zarate, and More
David Bromberg (photo by Amos Perrine)
A question I often get from people reading this column is “why in the world does that moderately successful artist need to crowdfund?” There are usually two answers to that question. For truly successful artists, it’s a sign of the times. Physical media is in decline as streaming continues to dominate, and even successful artists have to push vinyl and merchandise in one of the few places it is still considered valuable. The second, and more frequent, answer, is that the artist is successful within a niche fanbase, making direct marketing to that niche through crowdfunding more profitable than hoping someone finds you in the pile at the local record shop. For this edition of Crowdfunding Radar, I lead off with one such artist and round things out with a project championed by a No Depression colleague and a new streaming radio station for roots music.
David Bromberg – New Album and Multimedia Project (click for campaign)
With his trademark easy wit, the opening paragraph of David Bromberg’s new Kickstarter campaign sums up the challenges I outlined in the opening succinctly: “Who listens to records, let alone BUYS them? With cd’s going the way of the dodo, it’s not an unreasonable question.” Bromberg’s solution? A new project that tries to blend “cracking the seal and getting that first whiff of vinyl” with a short film and behind-the-scenes footage to entice those lovers of new media. Joining Bromberg for this project is his usual quintet of players, as well as producer Larry Campbell and engineer Justin Guip. Backer rewards include the new album in digital, CD, vinyl, or vinyl/digital combo formats; a signed DVD of the making-of narrative film and five in-studio performances by the band; a limited edition numbered box set that includes all of the physical media as well as a color photo booklet; and a David Bromberg Quintet house concert.
Steve Zarate – Patchwork of Light (click for campaign)
One of my favorite parts of doing this column is getting suggestions from folks for campaigns I should cover. Sure, I’ve found some gems just scrolling through sites, but recommendations from readers, fellow journalists, or artists whose tastes I trust are a sure way to at least get a listen. Steve Zarate is not an artist who I had run across before but is a favorite of Through the Lens columnist Amos Perrine, who passed along his new campaign Patchwork of Light. The Athens, Ohio-based artist wrote Patchwork of Light as a loose concept album detailing journeys from helplessness and despair to hope and renewal. Zarate has a couple of live renditions of his songs on his Kickstarter campaign page as well as backer rewards that include a bundle of all four of Zarate’s albums, an astrology reading, a guitar lesson, and a song personalized for you.
Folk Music Notebook (click for campaign)
David Bromberg kicked things off for this column by asking who listens to CDs anymore. The same could be said of listening to radio. But while terrestrial radio has seen a decline in recent years, internet radio has thrived, fighting the homogenization required to make a terrestrial station profitable by lowering the overhead and therefore being able to serve more specialized audiences. A new station is being launched on May 3, Pete Seeger’s 100th birthday. Folk Music Notebook is being formed by veteran broadcaster Ron Olesko and has already lined up weekly shows from names like Christine Lavin, Angela Page, Rik Palieri, and the “Sing Out Magazine Radio Show” from Tom Druckenmiller. This is an usual music campaign as there is no album to offer, but Olesko has put together a package of backer rewards that include T-shirts, an on-air dedication, sponsorships, and the chance to be a guest DJ for a 30-minute block.