Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The sound of the crowd

Busy, lazy, uninspired, forgetful, enjoying other stuff... Take your pick from any of these excuses for the continued paucity of posts. A bit early for thinking about New Year's Resolutions but I guess being better at this in 2013 will be an ambition.

Anyhoo, I've been wanting to waffle on about crowdfunding for a while now and today seems to be the moment. Partly becuase Ginger's 555% (as pictured above) won "Event of the year" at the Classic Rock awards last night. That was my first toe-dip into the murky waters of paying up front for something to be created without support or backing from the traditional music biz (as opposed to paying up front for something that already exists, which is what most normal shopping is after all, not often you get to try before you buy).

I can't remember when I first encountered the concept, but do recall reading something about Marillion raising money through their web site to fund a new album many years ago. It only properly registered with me when I first joined Twitter though, and people I was following started plugging projects on Kickstarter or Pledge Music. First ones they were aware of and supporting themselves, but then their own. And Ginger was the first that intrigued me enough to part with some cash. Of course I now wish I had taken the plunge earlier, but there you go.

The whole recording process was laid open to backers, with regular updates and sneak previews etc which, to my mind, brought the project alive. Watching a couple of minutes of video now and then in the run-up to release just made the sense of anticipation all the greater. Lots of artists are opening up the recording process these days through web exclusives and tweets and the like but most of my finding out about new albums still comes from seeing a review or even just spotting it in HMV. While such surprises are nice, I do enjoy a good build-up. And in this case the end product didn't disappoint - a triple CD set (distilled to a single disc selection by fan vote for retail release) featuring 30 tracks that have had more than a few listens since arrival.

Since then I have also backed (and received) the new albums from Amanda Palmer (there is going to have to be something pretty spectacular arrive in the next couple of weeks for Theatre Is Evil not to be my album of the year) and Ben Folds Five. Paul Miro, former singer with Derby band Apes, Pigs & Spacemen has done a pledge release through his own site, rather than one of the main players in the field, and already delivered in mp3 form with the physical disc to follow. That one I learned about through a comment on one of Ginger's posts, which made me doubly glad I'd backed that project as I would probably not relaised Miro was still going otherwise. Due in the New Year is an album of space songs from Kim Boekbinder, who I found out about through Amanda Palmer so it is all a bit circular in the crowd-funding world. I do take the occasional look through the Kickstarter and Pledge Music sites for other things that might be worth the risk, but nothing has sparked my interest as yet.

And then there is Ginger again. Not content with a triple album he also has another three on the go for this year. Two extreme noise and weirdness collaborations under the name Mutation and a power-pop thing called Hey, Hello. The bits of both that have been dribbled out so far have again whetted my appetite to fever pitch.

Anybody got any recommendations for other projects worthy of my cash?