CROWDFUNDING RADAR: Patreons from Will Kimbrough, Áine Tyrrell, and Tuatha Dea
I can’t think of anything in my lifetime that has fundamentally changed the music business as much as COVID-19 has. Napster would likely be the next most explosive, but even that was nothing like the effective shutdown of the entire touring industry this year has brought. As happened to a lesser degree when Napster began to move the business away from albums as a profit maker, artists are now trying to find new ways to generate revenue in a world without touring. One place this has been seen is in the exploding popularity of Patreon for musicians. I think prior to the pandemic I had featured only one Patreon in this column because there weren’t many to choose from. The requirement to put out monthly content and open personal lives more than some are comfortable with made it a bad fit for many artists, especially when they were touring. But in a world where you catch your favorite artist performing a “tip jar” show from a front porch (or, in one interesting show I saw, a bathroom) any night of the week, that wall has broken down enough that Patreon has become a regular part of my search for new crowdfunding projects. This week, I’m spotlighting a Patreon page from one of roots music’s most respected artists, and a pair from artists taking a global approach to roots music, pulling from Celtic, American, and Australian traditions.
Will Kimbrough (click here to view Patreon)
As No Depression columnists and fans go, I’m a relative newcomer to the roots music world, getting my true introduction in 1996 via a John Prine record in college. But, with Will Kimbrough, my connection goes back to the ’80s, when he was part of the criminally underappreciated Nashville rock scene that helped lay the groundwork for the hybrid style that would eventually be named “Americana.” Since then, Kimbrough has been one of the most prolific instrumentalists, singers, producers, and writers in roots music, as well as one of its more erudite historians. Since the pandemic, Kimbrough has kept busy doing regular Facebook shows, recording an album due out in October, and joining the ranks of Patreon. Kimbrough’s Patreon page has five levels of support, from $5 to $100 per month. At the basic level, you get one exclusive music download per month. Higher support levels unlock a monthly podcast and exclusive video, monthly patron-only streaming shows, a blog and peek into his music and book in progress, or a monthly lesson.
Áine Tyrrell (click here to view Patreon)
The line between Celtic and American roots music is bright and well-documented. The line between Celtic and Australian music is less so, which is kind of surprising since the non-indigenous population of Australia is made up to some degree of whatever England-adjacent country’s population the crown decided they wanted to send off to jail at any given time. Born and raised in Ireland and living in Australia for the past decade, Áine Tyrrell is in a good position to work that bridge, especially as she spent much of one year on tour in Australia with a concert titled “Exile: The Irish Australian Story.” Tyrrell’s Patreon page offers five levels of support, from $3 to $100 per month. The basic level gets you access to her Patreon posts and chats, as well as Patron-only livestreams. From there, perks ramp up to include downloadable tracks, special events when she returns to touring, web lessons, and postcards from the road.
Tuatha Dea (click here to view Patreon)
One of the perks of this job is finding bands I likely wouldn’t have of without it. But sometimes it connects me to a band I can’t fathom hasn’t floated into my orbit before. Tuatha Dea is one of those bands. Any band that needs two lines of their bio to describe their sound and uses phrases like Celtic, Appalachian, screaming electric guitar, ethereal ballads, and primal rhythms in that bio is a band I need to hear. If I were to describe them more briefly, it would probably be “a group of Appalachian steampunk enthusiasts formed a band with a Celtic drum circle.” It’s definitely roots music, but those roots go everywhere. Tuatha Dea’s Patreon page has four support levels, from $3 to $30 per month. At the low end, perks include behind-the-scenes content, patron-only polls, and early access to releases. From there, it increases to unreleased content from the band’s archives, a weekly patron-only concert, and VIP access at their shows.