By now most of us are familiar with Kickstarter, the fundraising website that lets aspiring artists in any medium ask people to give them money to make things happen (and even some non-aspiring artists, as David Fincher is currently using the site to drum up funds for a promo to get studio backing for his next flick). Therein lies the rub, as it happens: should established acts take advantage of being more popular – and therefore more likely to have fans willing to contribute money – on a site theoretically designed for up and comers?
New York-based synthpunk band Mindless Self Indulgence - a band of some fifteen years now, mind – are currently pursuing of their own Kickstarter campaign, looking for fans to give them a couple bucks in order to make their next album (and by “a couple bucks” I actually mean one hundred and fifty THOUSAND dollars). According to the site, “…IF [Mindless Self Indulgence] DON’T REACH THIS GOAL, WE WILL NEVER RELEASE THIS NEW M$I RECORD EVER!!!!!!” They’re currently about a third of the way there, with a little over $49,000 raised so far, and the deadline of Christmas Eve just under two months away. Considering they only started it on Thursday last week, that’s pretty phenomenal.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have never listened to a full MSI record; I neither like nor dislike them, as I haven’t had enough exposure to decide one way or another. I have, however, heard of their Puff Daddy-like attitude toward their music, saying they’re only in it for the money. If that’s true, then this Kickstarter campaign makes sense for them. There’s absolutely no way that it costs $150,000 to record an album, but if that’s what they would make from a record label if they recorded and sold it there, then this appears to be their way of cutting out the middleman and just reaping the profit.
It’s not like they aren’t giving people stuff for their donations: any pledge over a buck gets you a digital download of the album, forty bucks gets your name printed in the credits of the album in all formats, $200 gets you framed handwritten lyrics to the MSI song of your choice, and over $2,000 gets you a guitar from the band. Gotta act quick on that last one though, since there’s only one spot left; evidently someone REALLY wants some new MSI (as an aside, one person can pledge over $5000 and get their name in a song title. They don’t, however, get a download of the album because “You can clearly afford to buy that shit separately. Classy.).
That said though, if every donation over $1 gets people a copy of the record, then why wouldn’t fans donate a buck now to get their download and then skip out on buying it when it comes out (March 13, 2013, assuming they raise enough dough)? Maybe I’m just cynical, but I know if my favorite band did something like this, I would just choose the option that came with a vinyl edition of the album and consider it purchased; I wouldn’t buy it twice, which leads me back to my original thought: I don’t think it’s going to cost Mindless Self Indulgence $150,000 to make this album, so it seems like they’re just trying to front-load their profits while avoiding having to go through a record label. It seems like a much clunkier route than the one taken by Trent Reznor and Radiohead, but I suppose if it works for them, more power to ‘em.