The best place for an artist is to not be beholden to anything but the work. Well, that’s the ideal. What is often forgotten is that in the continuum of creation to curation to collection only creation is production. Dealers, A&R people and publishers tend to be more aware of this than the people at either end of the process and keeping that in mind helps one understand the minds and actions of the middle-men who usually end up with most of the capital generated. An artist who is going to enter into that dance has to treat these arbiters as employees. For those who don’t, alternative possibilities are multiplying rapidly.
Yes, public arts funding has been in the sights of politicians here in the US for decades, and in the UK for at least the last ten years. There is much hand-wringing onm some circles, and in the circles in which I move there is certainly an awareness of what’s going on, but for most of us, this funding being available or institutions existing never made a difference.
For funding individual projects and fundamental organizational efforts one may consider taking it to the crowd. It is not uncommon for even labels to take pre-sale orders for CD releases, though it varies from situation to situation how much of that pre-sales are needed to fund production and manufacturing. Smaller labels rarely give anything for production these days, with the relative affordablility of DAW’s and even digital mastering tools. Another that is becoming more common among independents is crowdfunding through sites like Indiegogo, Wefund, music specific entities like Pledgemusic and Kickstarter.
The latter option presents a two-pronged opportunity for artists, film makers, musicians and cultural organizations. On one hand, appealing directly to their audiences for support diminishes the need to shape the work to fit tastes and agendas of the people holding the money or massage those grant writing skills. And a successful campaign engages thoso who already love the work early in the process even while expanding their reach to new supporters.
The March Violets surely could name their price at any of the larger indie labels for their new release, but they are opting to let the fans help and in return people supporting their effort are let in on the process, through frequent communication from the band and access to free dowbn load of tracks well before anyone gets to hear them. With the two already given to their Pledgtemusic supporters, they are richly rewarded indeed.
Saith The March Violets:
We have always been fiercely independent, and the music industry has changed beyond recognition since the days of “Grooving In Green”, “Snake Dance”, “Walk into the Sun” and Rebirth Records. But WE haven’t really changed, we may be older and wiser and indeed wider, but we still have the desire to push the sonic envelope and show everyone that we are unique and even more relevant now the political climate has gone full cycle back to when we began.
And there are now so many more ways of connecting with our loyal fanbase and indeed making new friends. So we’ve teamed up with PledgeMusic to do just that; to welcome you into our twisted little world and offer you the chance to get your hands on some amazing exclusive offers. There’s signed and hand designed merchandise, exclusive stuff old and new, the chance to spend time with us in the studio and even get drunk with us. We are excited! Join us on this continuing adventure.
Part of the reward for artists is to be part of a direct general cultural dialogue that would be harder to initiate. In the case of The Yes Men Fix the World, there is no way any of the media companies that are essentially mouthpieces of our owners would ever support such a venture. They went to Vodo, which has the advantage of the crowdfunding and expands that with a distribution platform that allows for streaming and bittorrent downloads. And filmmakers are taking to crowdfunding in greater numbers since the major studios dissolved their «independent» subsidiaries.
Art careers traditionally depend on either appealing to the small group of people holding wealth or creating somthing innocuous enough for millions of people to want to buy prints for their living rooms. Alternatives for ennabling creation are dveloping and continued innovation is sure to develop. The next step is creating a distributed culture including dialogue, dissemination of work and support systems outside the establishment. As the real economy is being abandoned and working and middle classes are thrown out as no longer necessary within the developing infernal economic alchemy, the artists and thinkers who haven’t been relevant to their Brave (no longer) New World are there to welcome them. Interesting times lie ahead, and the bits falling off the decaying monolith may be a great place to start gathering building materials.