Today billboard.com ran a story about singer-songwriter Jill Sobule whose new album, California Years, was financed by donations from fans to the tune of $75,000. One person alone donated $10,000. That bought them the opportunity to actually sing on the CD, which was released last Tuesday. Sobule is not the first performer to finance an album in this manner. Way back in 2001 British prog-rockers Marillion paid for their CD Anoraknophobia by asking fans to pre-order the collection before the band had even recorded it. More recently Throwing Muses singer Kristin Hersh has also experimented with fan-financing, even offering the title of “executive producer” to big contributors. With the collapse of the traditional record industry combining with the effects of the recession to make life harder and harder for musicians this business model may well become increasingly popular. Which made me think: How much would I donate to my favorite band to ensure that they made another album—or maybe even to actually appear on that CD? Well, I’m a big Wilco fan and while they don’t need my assistance at the moment (they’ve already recorded a new album which should be out in June) I could imagine donating $100 to help the cause. If they let me hit a triangle on a track then maybe I’d give them $300. And were they to back me on my self-penned song “I Love A Ghost Is Born So Much It’s Really Kind Of A Sickness (Seriously, I Should Go And See A Doctor Or Something)” then the sky would very much be the limit donation-wise.
But what about you? Whether you’re a fan of Miley Cyrus or the Mahavishnu Orchestra, how much would you donate to the making of their next album if they were short of funds? And how much more would you pay to actually perform on it?