An Open Letter to The Idol Dead Pledgers (And Anyone Curious About Pledgemusic)
I am writing to you as a very happy boy.
Little over two hours ago the Pledgemusic campaign for my band’s third album hit the 100% mark and therefore it was financially confirmed that we will be making another album before the end of 2014. That last sentence reads pretty much like most band announcements: hell, if you don’t break up your fans are entitled to expect new music from you periodically. The vital part (and why I’m writing) is that it’s through a pledgemusic campaign that we were capable of amassing the money to pay for it.
The Idol Dead aren’t a huge band by anyone’s standards. We’ve hardly ploughed furrows into the roads of Britain crisscrossing it on endless tours we gave up our day jobs to go on, and nor have we got a countless horde of fans bedecked in our merchandise ready to make their parents’ assume the position and insert their disposable income into our already overstuffed coffers. We are five guys that meet up in Leeds on a weekly basis and made music for the fun of it and today we received a four figure payment from hundreds of people across the globe who believed that we both can and should make a third album.
Pledging on a band (to the pledger) is an early bid to fund the next batch of songs that grants them access to the process leading up to the release and probably gets them a few things that they wouldn’t usually be able to buy from their chosen group’s merch table. To the band, a pledge is infinitely more. A pledge, however much, is a hand on the back, a handshake and a grin, a leg up, a vote of support. It’s a complete stranger walking up to you in the middle of your home, placing their hands on your shoulders, looking you in the eyes and saying ‘You’ve got this. I know you, I believe in you, what you can do and what you have to offer. I’m placing my faith in you that you’ll take me on the journey with you and that you’ll make me part of creating this.’
What do you love so much that you’ll pay to do it? That you’ll go to personal pains to do it and think about it everyday? Imagine a roomful of strangers sending you money to do that one thing for longer, to have more fun doing it and for the end result to be something you’re so proud of that you want to run down the high street accosting strangers and give them a Clockwork Orange style eyeful of it. That’s what being part of a pledgemusic campaign feels like for the artist. If we could harness that feeling in pill form then Walter White would have been cooking up something a whole lot more addictive in his RV.
For the past few weeks I’ve regularly indulged in moments of clarity as I’ve found myself beating the springs out of my printer, or getting headaches from staring at iMovie for too many hours in a row. Pretty much any job that’s been necessary that doesn’t involve tuning up and strumming my guitar has been a learning curve steep enough to warrant an ice pick and crampons and those little epiphanies have come just as I’m about to deal the death blow to my HP Photosmart victim. I’d actually be getting frustrated and annoyed at something that was directly funding my band’s next album. Not at another promoter refusing us petrol money, not at having to sign to a label that I know will be taking 98.5% of the profits before dropping us, not at bust tyres on motorway hard shoulders, hunger at stage time, empty venues nor any of the usual suspects that make you grumble about jacking it in. I’d realize I was getting worked up at having to do a few hours clerical work a day in order to provide funding I wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford and was making a lot of people happy in the process. It’s practically a band’s First World Problem! Without this funding platform, I wouldn’t be deleting my seventh attempt at album art I cobbled together on Pixlr Editor: I’d be filling out applications for bar work, increasing prices on our merchandise, and waving goodbye to every luxury purchase for the next three months in favour of SmartPrice pasta. I am lucky to have these problems and I am fortunate to have these headaches.
Just as importantly, I know that when this album is made and released there will be interest in it. Not every band at our level sticks around long enough to do a third album, and even fewer have it all paid for before they start setting up the drums. Pledgers will have had three months of updates about every dial we turn and note we play. Some of them will be coming to practice with us, and a few will even be singing on the actual album. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be that involved with a band I like. The music industry is working backwards, disappearing from skyscrapers with penthouse offices and the accompanying percentage-driven suits, back down into rehearsal rooms, web chat rooms, venues full of fans determined to keep their favourite bands making music for the love of the music they make, not just because they have a five album contract to fill this fiscal year. It should go without saying, but to those people that booted up their laptop to fire off some pennies in our green-tinged direction, thank you a million times. If you were here right now I’d rugby tackle you in a flying hug and thank you profusely that I don’t have to resort to student food again. Album three is going to be a cracker, but you know that already from our updates, right?
If you’ve walked through your town and wondered where HMV and Our Price went, go have a look at Pledgemusic.com. Music didn’t disappear, the industry is not dead, it’s all just in a state of flux and the rules are changing as we go along to level the playing field. Groucho Marx famously quipped that he wouldn’t want to be a part of any group that would have him. I can appreciate the anarchic and comedic point old Groucho was making but I think I’ll be a lifelong supporter of the goodship Pledgemusic for as long as I have the ability to hear.
This I solemnly pledge.