SEATTLE – My band, Spacehog, was lucky: We made enough money selling our re-recorded hit "In The Meantime" to Guitar Hero and Rock Band to finance its production.
But there was the small matter of promoting our new release – something we had taken for granted that would be performed by the rank and file of a large record company.
As these entities became bigger and thus more bloated in the late ‘90s, bands would often take it upon themselves to outsource various spokes in the wheels of marketing and promotion. It was normal, for example, to hire regional and national PR and radio promotion. Now we were back in that position, but without a record company to go cap-in-hand.
In light of the shifting sands of record business revenue streams, my band Spacehog was asked to crowd source money to promote our latest record "As It Is On Earth."
The company, PledgeMusic, had been pursuing us for a while at this point. If I’m honest with you I didn't entirely know how it worked until we got into it with them.
Their model differs slightly from Kickstarter, in so much as:
- It encourages a charity component to the drive.
- There is less transparency as to the amount of money raised.
At the time, our lead singer Royston Langdon was getting into Transcendental Meditation and we decided it would be nice to support him in that. The rest of was band was taught the ways of "TM" and in return we pledged a portion of our proceeds to the David Lynch Foundation.
Being the band pack rat, I compiled a giant inventory of every sweaty tour sock, broken drum stick, poster from Omaha Nebraska 1996, rare CD from Lichtenstein, photo outtake from every once-beautiful supermodel I could get my hands on.
Along with the "things that the everyday folks leave behind," we added a few more creative items to our shopping cart of "only if you're obsessed with the band must haves."
Among them were portrait drawings of the band by Royston, a drum lesson (I was amazed someone went for that one!), Skype session with the band and more. I have to give the boys credit for being sports in a way I didn't expect on this one. Roy gave up some stuff I would rather he had kept, and Rich was available for whatever it would take to get us out promoting the new record we'd worked so hard on.
My one criticism of Pledge is that I think they really low-balled our targets in the name of creating a positive image for the medium as a whole. The money we raised barely made a dent on what we spent on promotion. It was never going to effectively contribute to radio promotion which we sorely needed.
What it did do, however, is introduce us to the concept of crowd sourcing and what potential remains untapped.
It seems there are two camps of half-empty and half-full in the music business these days. The half-empty camp is populated by older musicians who can't quite come to terms with what has happened in the last decade. The following trailer perfectly highlights the growing anxiety within this category.
The half-full camp is perhaps largely artists who aren't saddled with expectations of old. Maybe they don't have kids, either! In fact maybe they live in their folks’ basement!
Either way, check this clip to see what can be done with effective crowd sourcing:
For the music fan, crowd sourcing accesses your favorite bands in ways seemingly impossible before now. It’s surely worth a bit more of their time reaching out and buying into something special, isn't it?
Only this way can we be sure those artists continue to serve us with great content.
Jonny Cragg was born in Hythe England on July 18th 1966. Raised and educated in Yorkshire he chose Leeds as his spiritual home. Whilst at school he learned to play the drums, playing in local bands until opting to study Psychology at the University of East London in 1985.
Almost by accident his first job after graduation was back behind the drums for Leeds band The Hollowmen. They recorded four studio albums, signed to Arista Records, and toured extensively throughout Europe. A press trip to New York served to strengthen his resolve to move to the States, and that finally happened in the Spring of 1993. By the following year, Cragg had formed Spacehog with a group of Leeds expatriates in The Lower East Side: The group went onto sell millions of records, and tour the world to great success. He remains active in the group having made four studio albums to date.
Jonny is also a session musician, producer, writer, DJ and educator. His credits include: The Pierces, Supergrass, Edie Brickell, The Utah Saints, David Johansen and Richard Butler and Marty Wilson Piper, HBO, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.
He has two daughters, Laila and Domino, and lives with his partner in Seattle.