CAN EVERYONE AGREE THAT NO ONE SHOULD BE LEFT ALONE?
I've got mixed feelings about crowdsourcing sites like Kickstarter these days. When the trend started, I was on board. It allowed, say, local bands that couldn't afford to record, manufacture, and promote an LP or CD, to do so. As long as the project is fully funded, the money is built in. It's a pretty brilliant concept, really — the modern day equivalent of Wimpy from the Popeye cartoons offering money tomorrow for a hamburger today, except in reverse.
Still, when people like Zach Braff ask for $2 million to fund his next movie, well, it seems like things may have gotten out of hand. I understand that it's cool for Braff-ites to feel like they're a part of the project by donating a few bucks; but does anyone really believe he couldn't have gotten a few deep-pocketed investors, to whom $2 million is a lot less than it is, I'm guessing, to most people who contributed to his recent campaign (which, incidentally, beat his goal by more than 50 percent).
And then of course there's the complicated case of Amanda Palmer, the Dresden Dolls singer whose goal was $100,000 to fund a new album and tour. She ended up raising $1.2 million from her fans, and how did she return the favor? By asking said fans to perform in her band — different players at each stop — without compensation.
Unsurprisingly, the backlash was deafening. But it also made me wonder: What if she had offered playing in her band as a perk? (For those unfamiliar, one can offer perks — autographed albums; exclusive material; anything, really — to be given away to donors at different price points.) Would fans have contributed to the campaign in order to get the chance to perform with her? I can't imagine that it wouldn't have cooled the backlash, if there were even a backlash to begin with. But when fans have funded what you asked for 12 times over, and THEN you ask them to play for free? It comes off as greedy.
But people certainly contribute to crowdfunded projects not only out of altruism, but based on what they're getting out of it. And to sweeten the pot for potential donors, the people starting the campaigns have gotten more creative about their perks, both to give their fans something cool and unique for their contribution, and to garner attention for the campaign to begin with.
Take, for example, the band Filter, a one-hit wonder (1995's "Hey Man, Nice Shot") that has continued to churn out well-reviewed albums for a now cultish fan base. The band's new album, The Sun Comes Out Tonight, which was released early last month on Wind-Up Records, debuted in the Top 20. But unlike most artists, who seek funding before an album is even begun, Filter used the crowdfunding site Indiegogo not to fund the actual album, but simply to give their fans perks. In fact, the campaign went live after the album was already released.
And those perks are nothing if not unique. Sure, you can get a signed copy of the CD for 20 bucks, or a similarly signed copy of the album on gold vinyl for $35. But those with cash to spare can get much, much more.
For $250 you can have coffee with Filter bandleader Richard Patrick when the band comes to your town. (Which, in Tucson's case, is this week. No mention of who picks up the tab, by the way.) For $350 Patrick will send you a handwritten postcard once a month for a year. A $450 charge on your credit card gets you a Skype session with the band. (I don't get this one at all. Who wouldn't spend $200 less for a face-to-face coffee date?) For $750 you can create the band's playlist when they come to your town. (This one comes with a caveat: "A list of options will be presented to you based on the set time length and what we have rehearsed.") The band says that "Every dollar that is raised through the campaign will go directly towards their world tour," but isn't touring the only way most bands at Filter's level make any money these days? (Aside from asking $450 to Skype with them, of course.)
Are people actually taking them up on these options? I have no idea. Perhaps some fans (again, those with disposable income) see this as a great opportunity. But Filter is playing at The Rock this week, not at the TCC Arena or AVA, which makes it seem like they'd be relatively accessible anyway, right? Does selling access to themselves supersede shaking hands with fans at the merch booth after the show?
Bigger artists have been selling fans access to VIP meet-and-greets for years. But those make a little more sense to me, simply because most of those artists would otherwise be inaccessible to fans. Still, charging fans to give them a handshake, a photo, an autograph and a minute or two of stilted conversation is a pretty weird concept to begin with. And when we're talking about a band playing clubs instead of arenas, it's weirder still.
Filter performs at The Rock, 136 N. Park Ave., on Sunday, July 7. Disciples of Prime and Sean Donnelly open the all-ages show. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Advance tickets are available for a mere $9.21 at Dress Code. (It's a KFMA 92.1 FM "low dough show.") For further details head to rocktucson.com or call 629-9211.
VACATION, ALL I EVER WANTED
Nostalgia sells, especially in the summer, when package tours of acts from bygone days are the norm (more on that next week). And this week brings us a sweet little double bill of feel-good acts whose heyday was in the '80s.
It's been a while since the Go-Go's last visited Tucson, but they're tailor-made for an outdoor show in the summer (dunno about you, but I could certainly use a vacation right now). Ditto The B-52's, who have been making roughly annual stops in Tucson for the last several years. But combine the two acts, put 'em at AVA at Casino del Sol, and you've got a nostalgic, outdoor summertime dance party that sounds like a whole lot of fun.
The Go-Go's and The B-52's perform an all-ages show at 7:30 p.m. next Thursday, July 11, at AVA at Casino del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road. (No word on which band will perform first, and visits to the bands' respective websites only confused matters.) Tickets range from $25 to $75. For more info check out casinodelsol.com or call 838-6700.
ON THE BANDWAGON
Devin the Dude at Club Congress on Sunday, July 7; Jim Gaffigan at AVA at Casino del Sol on Wednesday, July 10; The Crystal Method at Playground Bar and Lounge next Thursday, July 11; Good Talk Russ (reunion and farewell show), Lariats, and The Sadie Hawks at Plush on Friday, July 5; Lorelle Meets the Obsolete and Womb Tomb at The District on Wednesday, July 10; Jenn Kelly, Hip Don't Dance, NICA, and Wallpaper Prison at Tucson Live Music Space on Tuesday, July 9; Hip-Hop Independence Day featuring EFRE$H, Giddy Gouda, Big Meridox, and Marley B at Club Congress on Friday, July 5; PDP, Shattered Systems, Metal Saint and more at The Rock on Friday, July 5; The Ill Motion, Slow Mover, and River Man at Tucson Live Music Space on Monday, July 8; the Electric Blankets, Of the Painted Choir, and Dylan Pratt on the Hotel Congress Plaza on Friday, July 5; Neon Prophet at Boondocks Lounge on Friday, July 5; Sleep Like Trees, Set and Setting, and Womb Tomb at Plush on Monday, July 8; Slobby Robby presents: Bikini Island Party featuring The Furys and Shrimp Chaperone at Club Congress on Saturday, July 6; Alana Sweetwater at Sky Bar on Saturday, July 6; Black Cherry Burlesque at Surly Wench Pub on Friday, July 5; Omega Jackson, Big Meridox, and Bajo Turbato at Sky Bar next Thursday, July 11.
Here's wishing everyone a safe and happy Fourth of July!