CROWDFUNDING RADAR: The Wilderness Yet, Ciaran Algar, and Damon Johnson
The Wilderness Yet
When touring stopped in March due to COVID-19 distancing precautions, I expected crowdfunding campaigns to skyrocket. With artists unable to tour, it seemed to make sense they’d focus on album fundraising. However, while Patreon has seen an uptick in music pages, traditional album-based crowdfunding sites have seen a major downturn in new projects. Once I considered it, this made some sense. With studios locked and vinyl pressing and T-shirt printing plants shuttered, starting a new campaign may be something not every artist is comfortable with until we can see the light at the end of the social distancing tunnel. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. Some artists who had already recorded their albums and sent them for mastering, others with longer timelines for their releases, and one artist recording specifically because of COVID-19 are stepping in to fill the gap. Before we get to this week’s three campaigns, though, if you’re looking for another way to support to your favorite musicians, direct-sales site Bandcamp will be doing a second day of suspending their normal fees to give 100% of sales to the artists this Friday (May 1).
The Wilderness Yet – The Wilderness Yet (click here to view project)
In preparation for this column, I put all the possible inclusions into a folder and, when I have time, visit YouTube to familiarize myself with the artists I don’t already know. The ones I like most make the column, but rarely does one stop me completely in my tracks. Irish trio The Wilderness Yet’s a cappella treatment of the song that gave the band its name, inspired by Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem “Inversnaid,” was one of them. Members Rowan Piggott, Rosie Hodgson, and Philippe Barnes have all seen some success as solo artists, but they harmonize like they’ve been together for a lifetime. The band’s Kickstarter campaign offers one-month-early access to the album in digital and CD format, handwritten lyric sheets, an art print poster of the album cover, and an instrumental lesson from Piggott or Barnes.
Ciaran Algar – Corona Collaborations: The Album (click here to view project)
Faced with a four-month-plus loss of touring income because of COVID-19, British vocalist Ciaran Algar decided to keep busy by recording daily “socially distanced” collaboration videos with various musicians he’s met over his decade-long career. As he released these videos, his fans kept asking him for an album. Resisting the initial urge to put up the MP3 copies of the home recordings and make a quick buck, Algar decided to start a Kickstarter campaign to record these collaborations professionally and spread some of the funds throughout the industry, paying every musician involved union rates and hiring an engineer, visual artist, and videographer to bring the album to life. Algar has pledged to also divide any profits evenly among all musicians involved. Backer rewards include the album in digital or CD formats, a behind-the-scenes video, a backer-exclusive livestream concert, and a fiddle lesson from Algar.
Damon Johnson – Untitled New Album (click here to view project)
Does Nashville-based guitarist Damon Johnson qualify as a “roots musician?” It depends on what you know him from. Certainly his alt-country group Whiskey Falls qualifies. His first project, ’90s Southern rockers Brother Cane, might as well, considering how big the Americana tent has gotten. But Johnson has also spent time in Alice Cooper’s touring band, Thin Lizzy, and that group’s post-Lizzy heavy blues rock project Black Star Riders. Johnson has done crowdfunding once before, an ill-fated 2018 campaign with PledgeMusic that led to Johnson having to take out a personal loan to fill orders when none of the money raised was given to him. But he found the fan interaction part of the process invigorating, and Johnson is working with Indiegogo for his second campaign. Backer rewards include the album in digital, CD, and vinyl formats; a signed lyrics sheet; a golf outing with Johnson in Nashville; and a vinyl test printing.