On August 10, Murder By Death became the third most successful musical artist to use Kickstarter, raising a staggering $187,048 in fan funds. That leaves them behind Amanda Palmer ($1,192,793) and Five Iron Frenzy ($207,980).
The mission was simple; to release new album Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon on vinyl. The pledge packages were anything but—lanterns, test pressings, a book subscription chosen by members, lifelong guest list privileges, custom cover recordings, house shows and a trip to Cedar Point Amusement Park with the band. Even with a circus of choices, most of the backers really just wanted to preorder their own copies of the vinyl.
Vocalist Adam Turla attributes the campaign's success to “a pre-existing, dedicated fanbase” where you're “giving them the opportunity to buy the experience” in an interview with Digital Music News.
“I think we were confident that we were going to sell a certain amount of stuff, and because there was demand, it worked.”
Turla went on to discuss the band's decision to use the Kickstarter platform, which has taken criticism as a technological crutch for bands in the past.
“A lot of people view this as a charity. But this is really a more open way to do marketing, and I don't think and definitely didn't launch into this thinking, 'I should just cover the cost of the goods.' I was more focused on people wanting to buy our record, and this being a new vehicle for marketing it. And also, more than anything else, this was a way of marketing the band in such a better way than just selling albums.”
They aren't the only ones taking over jobs reserved for labels in the past.
Circa Survive turned to croudsourcing for self-releasing their latest album, Violent Waves. It's the same idea, but a slightly different execution. Circa are selling preorder packages and merch bundles directly from their own site. Turla explained MBD's decision to use Kickstarter rather than doing it completely by their own means (or through a traditional record label model for that matter).
“Kickstarter had such a great backend and was a trusted site, so it seemed like the natural place to go, rather than write all the code ourselves and create this massive system.
A band that works directly on its Kickstarter campaign will have a much better project. People are hoping that they’re interacting with you, they don’t want it to be some label that has set up the thing and is pretending to be you.”
Will more bands choose to be their own record labels with fan-funded releases? Do you think abandoning labels with years of experience leaves more room for error?