Indiegogo & Fan-Funded Music: The Good, The Bad, and The Money

Picture 6Protest the Hero, in the past couple of months, announced their plans for recording a new album to follow up the success of 2011’s Scurrilous. But this time rather then a traditional label release, they’ve decided to use online fundraising website Indiegogo, to give fans the ability to invest in their “fan-funded” album. Depending on the size of the donation, fans will receive everything from a t-shirt and free digital download to a homemade pizza party.

This new method certainly shows a lot of promise at a time when even well known bands such as Radiohead have been avoiding using labels. At a time when piracy is at an all time high, and record labels are scrambling to churn out smash hits rather than cultivating great musicians, Protest The Hero will likely not be the last band in the independent scene to find alternative ways to continue to put out music. Many bands in the hardcore scene, despite being signed to labels independent or otherwise, often find themselves struggling to make money and rarely are able to pursue music full time. So is this a viable option for other bands? Here are a couple of barriers and benefits to this new method:




1. It gives fans more engagement with the band

If you take a look down the list of rewards for big donations, there is a much more personal element that has been lost to most bands. It seems rare now that you get to see a member of your favorite band outside the merch booth signing your new tee, if you even get that privilege. But these fun, and often odd, rewards give hardcore fans a chance to really get to know the band and a chance at feeling invested in the new material.


2. Transparency

One of the refreshing things about this new method is seeing the realities bands face when it comes to money. On Protest’s Indiegogo page, it clearly lays out exactly the way your money is being spent. It’s nice to see behind the curtain and see how bands that we often think of as worry free are living on a sum of $833 a month.



1. It can be difficult to find a dedicated fan base early

In order for this new method to work, fans have to be willing to give their money for the new album. As said on their Indiegogo page the band needed 93,000 dollars to create their album. Though with the power of a fan base from a well-known and resilient band going on 13 years of being together this may not be terribly difficult. However, with a smaller band making a sophomore or debut album, a fan base of this magnitude would be far harder to assemble.


2. Without labels physical media will be more expensive

Without the buying power midsized to larger labels can provide, those who still believe in the CD/Vinyl world, much like this broke writer, will find themselves paying more for these items. Though websites such as Bigcartel offer bands a venue to sell their music online to the world, if a band chooses to provide the option of physical media it is likely that prices will have to rise.


If this fan-driven funding succeeds, much of the future for record labels, bands and we as fans, remains up in the air. But in this new era of DIY music where being signed is becoming less and less necessary or even desirable, I for one look forward to watching the industry and the music evolve together.



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