Alt rocking band The Weather Bells from Indiana have done something that up to this point is unprecedented in the burgeoning world of music crowd funding: they have set up one crowd funding campaign to help pay for the setup costs for another crowd funding campaign.
As Weather Bells front man Jay Stepstein explains, the band believes the $2500-dollar Indegogo campaign they have just launched is vital to making sure their planned $25,000-dollar Kickstarter campaign for their upcoming album Who Does The Bell Toll For? is successful.
“Musicians are people too,” Stepstein explains. “And as we looked at all that needed to be done to make a successful Kickstarter campaign, we determined that it was just too much of an out-of-pocket expense for the band to endure. I mean, we need to make a cool video promoting the Kickstarter campaign, we need a write-up, we need to spend time determining what incentives we want to give out and at what dollar levels. When you look at it, it’s really a lot of work.”
The incentives for the Weather Bell’s initial Indiegogo campaign include the right to be listed as either a contributor, associate producer, producer, or executive producer of the Kickstarter campaign, with the contributor’s names to be included in the proposed Kickstarter write-up and video.
“As you know, most musicians tend to be notoriously bad with their money,” Jay of the Weather Bells continues. “Call it a tradeoff for our creative brilliance. Not to mention our propensity to spend copious amounts of money on alcohol, tattoos, vintage musical equipment, and many times drugs. So instead of pinching pennies ourselves, limiting our vices for a short period, narrowing the scope of our project, trying to determine resourceful ways to offset production costs, or God forbid getting temporary or part-time jobs to help pay for everything, we instead determined we would rather guilt our fan base into believing that if they don’t help fund our campaigns, the album will never get made, or that we would have to surrender our creative freedom to a big corporation in trade for recording capital, which of course would never happen because corporate labels don’t sign bands like us.”
When asked if using one funding campaign to help set up another funding campaign was risky, the Weather Bell frontman chimed…
“Risky? Incurring the financial risk of making an album, especially when your fans can do it for you, that is risky. In the end, for the fans it is no different than pre-ordering the album the way the incentives are set up, except they’re paying for something that doesn’t exist yet, and without the help of a track list, cover art, or samples or singles to determine if it is something they feel necessary to spend money on. The best part about using crowd funding is it takes the pressure off the band to make a successful album, since all the production costs will already be recouped before the project even commences. So the whole “sink-or-swin” or “necessity-is-the-mother-of-invention” part of the equation is completely taken out. Even if we make a dud album, which is more likely because of the lack of pressure and drive, we have at least recouped our costs.”
Jay Stepstein says that if the first two crowd funding projects are successful, the Weather Bells will set up a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for a Sprinter tour van—a diesel-powered vehicle that has more space than the band’s current van and will help the band save on fuel costs. “We want to be the first band to take to world tour of crowd funding projects to support one entire project from the page to the stage, to be the first band powered completely by music guilt. Because after all, playing music for a living isn’t a privilege, it is a right.”