CROWDFUNDING RADAR: Three Artists Getting Creative with Crowdfunding
The Countess of Fife
The old, and unsourced, saying goes “necessity is the mother of invention” (as opposed to Frank Zappa, who is definitively sourced as inventor of the Mothers of Invention). That’s certainly been the case this year as artists scramble to replace lost income in a variety of ways. For many, that has come in the form of crowdfunding a new album. But new albums aren’t the only way artists are raising money during the pandemic. In this week’s column, I’ve got three artists taking very different approaches to crowdfunding, from a traditional album campaign to a roots music favorite’s “tales from the road” book to a livestreamed Christmas “tour” from one of roots’ most enduring duos.
The Countess of Fife – Debut Studio Album (click here to view project)
Having grown up with a very America-centric knowledge of roots music, one of the big draws for me at Americanafest is the chance to interact with international delegations of roots musicians, to hear their own takes on the genre, and even their different “roots,” from Smoky Dawson to Lonnie Donegan. I’ve also always been fascinated by artists who come to roots music from seemingly unrelated genres. So Scotland’s The Countess of Fife was a band I wanted to check out. Formed by Fay Fife of first-generation British new wave act The Rezillos, The Countess of Fife combines those punk and new wave elements with a thorough grounding in alt-country. Having released one live EP, the band is now headed into the studio with producer and prolific studio instrumentalist Jim Sutherland to record their studio debut. Everyone who pledges at any level will receive a download of their live EP. Other backer perks include the new album in digital, CD, and vinyl formats; backer-only demo tracks; photo and video diaries from the studio; and a virtual “sit in” on one of the band’s rehearsal or studio sessions.
Seth Walker – Your Van Is On Fire (click here to view project)
Spend very much time with a group of musicians and you’re eventually going to get to the “stupid stories from the road” portion of the night. Americana favorite Seth Walker has spent most of the last decade in transit from one show to another. So, faced with an unusual year off the road, Walker decided to put those crazy road stories, tales from his early life and influences, and the kinds of musings that come from staring at a dashboard into a book, Your Van Is On Fire. Backer perks include the book in ebook, hardcover, and paperback editions, the last two signed; a collection of solo acoustic recordings; a postcard set of Walker’s paintings; and a livestreamed book reading, performance, and more stories from writing the book.
Over the Rhine – Christmas Concert Special and Fundraiser (click here for tickets)
December is usually a busy season for Over the Rhine. Their annual Christmas tour has gotten bigger every year since they began it and all of that income (as well as the income from their Nowhere Else Festival) is lost in 2020. In a recent Facebook post, the duo compared it to a “mom and pop” store that makes most of their money in the Christmas shopping season. Their solution? To go “on tour” around their farm and film it as a streamable concert video. The duo is employing a “pay what you can” model for buying tickets, though a $50 donation is suggested, which will be matched with a no-interest loan that will go toward their goal of making their “Nowhere Else” barn into a fully functioning concert venue.