I read an extremely interesting article this weekend in the New York Times about a few resources that can help musicians and groups raise money outside of album sales.
The three sites that were referenced in the article are: Sellaband, Pledge Music and Kickstarter. Each service has a slightly different approach but, basically, they all give artists an avenue to raise money for their projects.
I haven't had a chance to dive too deeply into any of these sites but I love the overall idea. We all know that the music industry has changed, and I think hip hop has been especially hard hit. In the late 90's and early 2000's an indie (aka underground) hip hop group could put out a great record and be able to count on not just album sales, but also 12" sales from all of us wax-fiend DJs.
For the sake of this article, I'm not focus on the "digital killed the analog star" debate. I'm just going to say that the indie hip hop modle has been completely turned on it's head.
In the late 2000's and beyond, fans like me have been enjoying more free music than ever before, but many artists have been struggling to make a real living off their craft. On the positive side, this shift has created more music, more inovation, and destroyed the major label / commercial radio monopoly on what people listen to. Because of this, a lot of indie groups have been able to get more shine than they would have been 10 - 15 years ago. In the past 10 years I've discovered the majority of my favorite artists through downloading free music.
I think that pledging / donating / funding groups could possibly be the future of keeping great music alive while still giving artists a chance to eat.
Once I've found an artists who I like, I have an intrest in seeing them succeed, since their success means more good music for me to listen to. Historically, the two main channels that fans have to sustain their favorite groups is album and ticket sales. Currently, both records and paid shows are a hard sell. Most people want that stuff for free and, thanks to file sharing and live music sponsorship, they're able to find it.
That said, I believe that most people would be willing to support their favorite artists in the form of small donations or payments. Think of it like the public radio modle but for music.
In any event, I need to take some time to research and think about this and I'll be talking about it more on the A3C blog at a later date. For the many artists out there, have any of you used these services? Have you had any success? Feel free to share some knowledge in the comments.