This week for my continuing feature on Property of Zack, I wrote about why Amanda Palmer’s Kickstarter campaign is one of the most important moments in the music business in quite a while. You can check it out here or after the jump.
So listen, some big things happened in the music industry since we last spoke – TopSpin and TuneCore announced a partnership to make it easier to get your music everywhere, The Orchard acquired IRIS, and it looks like Facebook is drawing a line in the sand over piracy by kiciking Grooveshark to the curb. While all of this is well and good and interesting far more seismic events are occurring in the music business that are as our Vice President likes to say a BIG F**CKING DEAL. I am talking a music business event akin to when Joffrey Lanister grabbed the crown in Game of Thrones and the little guy took power. While that was a big day, we know the real action will go down when a super little guy like Tyrion Lanister can rise up to the top, this day is still a big deal for the little guys out there, just not the day where the dwarves are ready to shine yet.
The castle storming I am speaking of is DIY artist, Amanda Palmer, who is presently labeless, launched a record breaking Kickstarter last week and at present time has raised nearly $650,000 in just 11 days to fund a tour, record and art book through the crowdfunding site. So while you may shrug your shoulders and not get why this is a BIG FREAKING DEAL! I am here to tell you who this is a big crumble in the castle of the major label system that we have all grown tired of.
Music fans are not the quickest evolving animals and while they evolve faster than most southerners brains seem to come around to social issues that the rest of us get (North Carolina), it still takes time for music fans to trust new technologies or even get used to purchasing music in a new way. For example, you probably know some luddite who still buys CDs just cause they are set in their old fashioned ways, or even people who are still buying records on iTunes instead of just streaming them on Spotify or Rdio.
The fact is it is a rare breed of music fan who immediately jumps to the latest ways of purchasing music the second they happen. It takes time to convert fans and for them to see they could have it better or different before they come around to changing their music purchasing ways. The way much of this evolution often happens is by either seeing the advantages of the new way of purchasing music or an artist they are passionate about leads them to this new format.
Amanda Palmer has just lead her loyal legion of fans to say this is a new way you purchase music and because she has a lot of fans, many people are now adapting to this new method of music purchase and have followed her there. This Kickstarter campaign has gotten nearly 12,000 people to jump on board to this funding and with the thousands of other Kickstarters that will happen this year expect that number to add another column of fans who will adapt to this new way of acquiring the music they love and REALLY support.
One constant grievance in new music landscape is music fans are tired of being ripped off. Before the Internet the biggest complaint with purchasing music was that you would not be able to preview an album before buying it and if it sucked you just spent a good chunk of change on a record that is totally useless to you. The Internet changed all of that and music fans then could hear music before they bought it, and if anything buying became VERY optional.
Another way we grew tired of being ripped off was with blasphemous prices to purchase the music we loved. Before the Internet rendered CDs a joke, the major labels tried to fetch in the area of $20 for CDs which rubbed the majority of us wrong. Sadly this was replaced with early age startups that went under and made many people’s music libraries disappear and left them ripped off. This has forged an animosity in the music buying public towards valuing the purchase of music at any price or medium where they feel they may get fooled again.
One of the more interesting things involved in Amanda Palmer’s Kickstarter was she started the price point at $1 for a digital download. This enabled fans who are weary of the format to not put much risk into the new format for them in which they could reap a large reward. In the early days of training fans to move to a new method of music consumption this is always crucial. Let’s all think back to the days of free CD samplers and numerous free iTunes downloads, I don’t see the major labels handing those out too often these days?
This fair pricing plan also helps to heal a relationship with music buying fans where they not only feel like they aren’t supporting the old system of people who extorted money from their pockets, they feel they have a connection with someone whose music they have a deep bond with. This goes a long way in giving reparations to a bond that many music fans feel very strongly about.
Why This Is A BIG FREAKING DEAL
I know the first word out of the detractors mouths are that cause Ms. Palmer was on a major label before this really isn’t that much of a win, but what this does is open the floodgates for smaller and smaller artists to fund their records this way. As more large artists take part in crowdfunding and it gets national media attention, it trains fans to support the bands they love in advance of their endeavors and gets fans into the habit of seeing this as a part of their music purchasing habits.
With time as more and more fans find this to be a part of every day life, we can begin to see the lack of labels that really just act as bank loans with a promo office and knowledgebase become extinct and a new wave of only having artists who create great music and can create true bonds with their fans will start to see a more viable way of getting ahead instead of those who can get past the gatekeepers at the labels. Music fans will be more in charge than ever and in my eyes this can only be a good thing for the world of music.