The Blog

  • Rich Kassirer

Issue 29: With a Little Help From Their Fans

Updated: Aug 11, 2018

As the recording industry continues to struggle with the reality of the digital revolution, musicians are looking for new ways to get their music to the public.

Many have realized that they have the ability to do it all themselves – fund, produce, promote, and tour – without the help of a record company’s backing.

Yes, it is a lot of work. But because of how far-reaching the Internet is, it is possible to make a nice career in music without the star-maker machinery, as Joni Mitchell so aptly put it. How an artist funds their projects has become one of the more integral parts of this DIY process. In the past, record companies would give the artist an advance to pay for studio time, advertising, touring, etc., and the artist, in turn, would not see a dime of profit until that advance was earned back.

That might still work for Springsteen or U2, but for a young musician with only a moderate fan base, that just won’t work.

The idea of fan-funded projects is fairly new, and allows for creativity and innovation from musicians.

In its simplest form, an artist will ask fans to donate money to an upcoming project. In return, fans may receive special “gifts” or privileges from the artist.

This process has worked for more than a handful of artists. But the question remains whether those artists who have been successful with fan-funded projects – such as Ellis Paul and Jill Sobule – could return to their fans and ask for their support again. Is fan-funding a sustainable system?

We try to shed some light on this question.

OK, you’re probably thinking, wow, that’s some pretty heavy stuff. Good topic, but, come on, it’s summer! We’re drinking fruity cocktails, lounging in the sun, riding in the car with the windows down blasting the tunes. Can’t we just chill?

We hear you! We need new tunes too. So our special CD review section, starting on Page 6, has just what you need.

We’ve got new music from Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Jakob Dylan, Pieta Brown, Crooked Still, Jackie Greene, Shannon McNally and In the Cinema.

There’s something for everyone here and it’s all worth a listen.

So go forth. Drink, lounge and ride in style. (Not all at once!)

To download the new issue, click HERE To read the CD reviews, click HERE


1. “Why We Build the Wall,” “Hadestown,” Anais Mitchell. We love the whole album, plain and simple. 2. “Rattling Locks” “So Runs the World Away,” Josh Ritter. It gets deep into your brain. 3. “Miss Mary” “Silver City,” Sarah Borges. When the weather gets hot, the music must rock. 4. “Magnolia Mountain,” “Cold Roses,” Ryan Adams. Summer also means Grateful Dead or Dead-inspired tunes. 5. “Squeeze Box,” “The Who by Numbers,” The Who. Classic rock always sounds better blasting on car speakers, with the windows wide open.

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