Kickstarting a 7"

I was meeting with the team at one of our portfolio companies last week and we got to talking about music. I was asked if I ever "broke a band" on this blog. I said, "I don't think so." Then someone suggested that I had in fact "broken" the Rural Alberta Advantage with this post earlier this year. I am not sure that post "broke" the band, but it did get a lot of people to come out and see the band play their first US show at Piano's in late January.

Since then, the RAA have taken off, signed a label deal, and are touring around the US and Canada this summer. I am so glad to see it. They write great songs and deserve this success.

As part of the re-release of their record Hometowns on Saddle Creek (their new label), the band also wants to make a vinyl 7" re-recording of two of their songs; Frank AB and Deadroads.

Frank, AB

The Deadroads

So they turned to a cool new website called Kickstarter, where anyone can go and request help funding a project they are passionate about. Kind of like Donors Choose for everything.

The RAA is raising $5,000 to fund the production of the 7". Here's the Kickstarter widget explaining why they want to do this and soliciting your contribution to help them make it a reality. I've given $50 and hope all you RAA fans out there join me in making this happen for them and for us.


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Comments (Archived):

  1. kennymiller

    I liked your post Fred. This idea of user funding is in the air and an interesting step towards supporting artists ability to create….. this one for designers is very good, like the way it is focused.

    1. fredwilson

      i’ve not seen society6 before kennyvery nicei agree “user funding is in the air”

      1. ShanaC

        The art market has a heavy commercial tone to it. And the schools, on a conceptual note, are roiling from the downturn where one of the major pieces of the era was Damien Hirst’s ‘For the Love of God’ was a signature of the times. (That’s his skull, the one made of diamonds and platinum…).The running expectation is that the pieces are going to be small, and you are making them because you like your theoretical, conceptual, and material undertones. And that’s it. The market can’t support you anymore unless someone happens to like it too.As for the worth of the pieces…that is a very heavy question. Very heavy. One good note is that most high art is sold via handshake agreement with no published prices in major cities, and that most art enters secondary markets- and breaks laws in most states as a result. If you are buying art as a first timer you are most likely getting a much different price quoted and payed for than someone at the same dealer who they know buys regularly, loans and donates to museums. Buyer beware.And I am just starting out with parts of this mess. And I want to bypass parts of it too for the sake of the art. Because that’s where the interesting critical side is…Damn.As a resuslt, for high art, there will always be issues even with a user model, because it is not clear who the user is, or what a user does.If you notice, that’s why Society6’s art have a distinct flavor. They band together. But I’ve followed people who have made money that don’t do work that looks like this at all.Yes, I am ignoring for the sake of discussion the fact that you can and will and that in fact I and many others wants to practice the in between places…even more problematic. Placing value on this stuff….Supporting artists gets so complicated in that sense. I’ve seen the crazy ideas come out. Including in me- which actually long term probably will be a good thing.

  2. Timi

    hey Fred,I listened to The RAA after reading your original post. I have since bought two copies of the CD and I will give someting to this as well.Thank you for introducing them to me.Cheers,Tim

  3. Raj

    Bands are breaking via P2P social networks these days rather than radio. Measuring passed links of music seems like an important application to me as a result.I remember reading about M.I.A’s first ever US tour *prior* to the release of Arular, her debut that dropped in May of 2005.Everyone knew the words to her then unreleased record at the shows. Talk about a killer way to build an audience. She and her label have certainly managed to monetize her art in spite of the records being made available well in advance of its release.Labels should start thinking about artists as we might think about early stage startups.

    1. fredwilson

      and take equity in them too?

      1. kidmercury

        for sure. the disruption in music/publishing will end up transferring value away from album sales and to the brand of the artist/performer IMO. you gotta get your piece of the RAA brand boss!

        1. fredwilson

          I already have it 🙂

      2. Raj

        Equity in 360 deals seems like an appropriate model for music when a label is involved.Maybe this will only work in some cases, but it seems better than the alternate.

  4. Graham Smith

    Yes! Take equity in bands! But it probably won’t be too long before the crapshoot aspect makes it unappealing as an investment. Patronage is a much more realistic model. The problem is most musicians are completely non-entrepreneurial, in the usual sense of the word.There is a better solution to all of these problems, but it will require “record labels” admitting that they are parasitic and currently unable to offer any of the benefits that they have traditionally offered songwriters/performers.

  5. Adam Wexler

    fred, kickstarter looks like a great platform that can hopefully benefit all types of talented creatives. if you weren’t aware before, there’s two music-focused platforms, slicethepie & sellaband, that have been after this space for a couple years. i just dug up a great piece that elliot can buskirk of wired mag wrote about both of the aforementioned platforms last spring: opposed to “user-funding,” i think “fan-funding” is the most applicable term for this type of project. who knows these artists better & wants to see them succeed more than their own fans?-adam wexler

    1. fredwilson

      Awesome. I’ll check them out

  6. jakemintz

    Pledged! To those that haven’t seen The RAA, try to catch them on their summer tour (they are amazing live):…Here are a few upcoming shows (I just got tickets for the SF show, Bottom of the Hill is an amazing venue!). 07/06 ::: Seattle, Sunset Tavern 07/09 ::: San Francisco, Bottom of the Hill 07/10 ::: Los Angeles, Echo 07/14 ::: Denver, Hi Dive 08/24 ::: Chicago, Pritzker Pavillion

  7. ErikSchwartz

    Why did they sign a label deal?The whole problem that artists have now (and the recording industry as a whole) is because artists sign deals that pay them upfront cash at the expense of controlling of their art.

  8. Guillaume Lebleu

    Should we call the fans funding their bands Venture Customers?The nice thing about Venture Customers is that they are solely investing for a real return, not a monetary one, so there is less of a need for artists to monetize their art, to get in debt (to producers/distributors) or to give away equity. They can actually give it for free once they have provided the real return to their investors, since they don’t need as much to maintain a point of extraction of value to breakeven from their production costs and hopefully make a profit.I see Venture Customers as part of a general trend towards more pull economy and less push economy: less “build it and they will come”+”I didn’t know I needed it until I saw it” and more just-in-time network-base assembly of skills/resources into producing wealth for the parties actually participating to the production process.

    1. fredwilson

      Its back to the future but this time we can crowdsource artist patronage

  9. harpos_blues

    Fred,Fan-funded models are indeed contemporary models of “patronage”. Patronage was/is an essential contrbutor to the performing arts sector for centuries. It’s interesting to see the model cross-pollinate into more “popular” forms of art/music.ArtistShare (, while focused on the jazz/classical sector, provides the complete organizational model, infrastructure, and community-based toolkit for an artist to raise funds.One of my favorite ArtistShare projects is jazz singer Allan Harris’s “Cross That River Experience” which includes music vis CDs, a novel, and an off-Brodway production in Fall 2009. More info at .Off-topic but still germane given my recent rant(s) about Disqus… A VC looks great on a Palm Pre, let’s see if my comment will post.

    1. fredwilson

      It did!

  10. harpos_blues

    Whoa, Disqus logged the comment I posted from my Pre. This is progress, now if I can just get Firefox (Mac) and Disqus to play nicely together, I’d be a happy girl.

  11. ShanaC

    This is ridiculous, I’m using Firefox on a school computer, and it isn’t clear from the CSS if the music player plugins have loaded correctly or not.I’m highly sensory- so I should have some impassioned feeling about the music, but how will I know if I can’t hear it?

    1. fredwilson

      I am going to get rid of the yahoo player and go back to the delicious playtagger. Sorry abt that

      1. ShanaC

        Thank You. I’m not the type to skip music. For some reason, noticing music is a big part of my life. I live off of my Pandora. I ask what’s playing in stores and cafes… (It turns out in my favorite local cafe….Pandora….the irony.)

  12. Mayson

    Kickstarter is cool. Some friends of mine have been invited to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and are using Kickstarter to help defray their expenses.

    1. fredwilson

      I went to edinburgh for the fringe festival last year. Its quite an experience

    1. fredwilson

      Totally agree. I’ve written on the topic several times in the past. The current system is not fair and not right. I could live without the characterization as scum however

  13. Prokofy

    Nice tunes, kind of reminiscent of Smashing Pumpkins. I guess when you get behind an Internet barn-raising they will meet their goals!Yet…the concept that runs the parish collection basket probably doesn’t serve as an industry model to save the music industry as a whole.

  14. Chuck Fishman

    Disappointing. Not available to start a project. I really dislike when people promote new services like that, and they are only open to a few select bands. Figures.

    1. fredwilson

      That sucks

    2. perry chen

      Hi Chuck, Perry from Kickstarter here. I understand your disappointment, and apologize for the frustration.While we have tried to avoid plastering the word “beta” throughout our site, it would be a fair description of our current state. There are things we are learning and refining that we want to get done before we open project creation to everyone.I know this is not ideal, but our goal is to get you a better product to fund your projects.If you are still interested (and I hope you are), please drop us a note via the site and I’d be happy to personally notify you once project creation is available to all.

      1. Chuck Fishman

        I get it, I apologize for my agita. I just find this happens way too often and by the time the service launches, my interest has faded.

    1. fredwilson

      Yup. That’s how many bands break now

  15. fredwilson

    You were way ahead of this trend!