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Archive for July, 2012

BAMM.tv Exclusive: ‘No Ves’, Rocio Pena

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‘International’ is our middle name here at BAMM.tv (well, actually, it’s Wilbur, but please don’t tell anyone). We don’t just limit our quest to uncover the best new talent to the world of English-language artists, as demonstrated by the fantastic range of artists our BAMM Latino imprint has uncovered. Now we can add another great discovery to that roster: Chilean singer-songwriter Rocío Peña, who treated us to an emotionally-charged performance of ‘No Vas’, which features on her album ‘Atardecer’.

Filmed at SXSW 2012, this is the perfect wind-down track after a hectic Monday – and if you’re not amazed by the power of Rocío’s voice, you really should get your ears checked out. Enjoy …



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BAMM In-Depth: The Music Of The Olympics

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Olympic spirit

On a still summer’s day you would have no idea that the world’s biggest circus is landing in this part of town. But the past five years has all led up to this point, and whether you have tickets to the main event or not, there is a strong sense of anticipation. Since the announcement of the 2012 Olympics, millions have been plunged into places like Dalston, and amidst dilapidated buildings such as the Chinese on the corner, next to the station, there are shiny new ones with empty windows and draped pictures of model nuclear families. While the developers want to attract new blood, the cultural drive of the area hasn’t changed. E8 has the biggest concentration of music venues in East London,and every night of the week sees check-shirted Converse-wearing queues and crowds blocking up the area’s narrow pavements. Music lovers who want to escape the official pomp and hardline commercialism of the Olympics could find this place a refuge. On the other hand, London is the self-declared home of live music and there is no better time for the music industry to showcase this. So has it been able to benefit from Olympics funding? The world’s biggest temporary tourist attraction provides a great test case of how musicians and bands interact with promoters, brands and old-school arts funders.

Despite the tangible gains in terms of development, there is a distinct air of a wedding that no-one wants to go to. You might have a good time in spite of yourself, but there’s a pervading sense of doom. Funding cuts have hit culture the hardest, but the Olympics offered the chance of a possible recoup, with money being allocated to unique, large-scale projects.

On the Olympics website, the official angle is: “The Olympic and Paralympic brands are incredibly powerful. They evoke the emotion, excitement and values of the Games. The London 2012 brand is fundamental to the Games. It is how we identify the Games, how we communicate our ambition, and how we drive excitement and enthusiasm for the Games.” Most of the run-up to the Olympics have been marred with stories about planned lockdowns and deployment of police to prevent the unauthorised use of the Olympics logo, or related mentions. Companies are not allowed to use any combination of ‘London’, ‘Olympic’ or ‘Games’ in conjunction or separately, meaning that numerous companies including Easy Jet and Mercedes have been forced to pull new advertising campaigns.

The impact of the branding exercise has been felt by those not traditionally associated with balaclavas and placards. The Musicians Union (MU) has been one of the most vocal about how the protective policy is affecting their work. More professional musicians have found themselves being approached for free work, according to the organisation. The rules of organising an event next to the Olympics is that it cannot be affiliated with anyone but official sponsors of the sporting event. With most professional music events being funded to the hilt (in the absence of government funding), it’s nearly impossible for professional music organisers to affiliate their events to the Olympics because of branding clashes. Horace Trubridge,of the MU, says that the Olympics have not given any tangible returns to musicians – and is unlikely to leave a legacy.

The main beneficiaries so far have been local acts who are able to adopt the ‘Inspired By’ slogan. The protectiveness over the use of this has frustrated professional musicians, who have lost out on potential income from not being able to stage events with the Olympics brand, the union claims.

Another issue has been the decision to stage the opening and closing ceremonies with pre-recorded music. The MU believe that this element has not been left to chance, because the organisers have instead focused their energies on the other elements of the spectacle. Trubridge described the decision as “pure laziness”. He said the biggest gains had gone to professional musicians who ironically are recording music to use for the live ceremonies – because of the policy against live music.

The Olympics may even have hastened the death of the festival scene. Trubridge said: “The festival scene is suffering a double hit and taken a lot of interest away from the festival scene – Hopdown and Sonisphere – a lot of the smaller festivals have been pulled this year. It’s really hard to see a balancing side, when you don’t see any return.”

The very event itself is unlikely to bolster the actual music it does showcase, given that it’s not live. For the Musicians Union, that sums up the failures of the cultural policy of 2012’s Olympics. Trubridge said: “Live music should have been the most important aspect of opening and closing. That’s what this country is famous for, but it’s been ignored to accommodate what’s considered most important. People in the UK don’t like recorded music in any event – we like reality shows because they feature live bands. We’re going to see a spectacular show without live music so we’re struggling to see any benefit.” Most recently, it was claimed that the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games has an official policy of not paying musicians as they benefit from “exposure” by playing at the events (even though they’re not playing live).

It appears there’s a dark cloud over the events already, given the difficulties in coming to mutually satisfying agreements with many of its non-sporting performers. For many musicians, it could be difficult to forget the way they’ve been treated at a time when there should have been more than enough work to go around.


Returning to East London

And what does it mean for musicians in the epicentre of the city’s musical scene? It’s business as usual for most. Dalston’s music scene is busy, with the attention given to its venues balanced by a steady and loyal flow of regulars. Cafe Oto has been one of the most feted venues, with its strikingly leftfield roster which has seen it host artists from all over the world. Newspapers and magazines such The Guardian and Italian Vogue have described it as among the most culturally relevant music venues in the country. Despite the international praise,the cafe situates some of its ethos in the immediate community, and has fostered links with local projects such as radio station NTS. Its new clientele haven’t changed its goal or its vision of itself. John from Cafe Oto said, tongue-in-cheek: “We do get people who look cool coming in. But we don’t turn them away. They get bored easily and usually leave anyway.”

NTS interestingly features archival pictures of Dalston as the backdrop on the site, showing a side to the place that many of its listeners might not know. It features shows from local tastemakers and established DJs, covering a huge range of genres, possibly creating as much musical diversity as most of Dalston’s venues put together. More new venues are opening up replacing the makeshift ones which disappear, while Turkish bar owners are opening up venues in their basement to host more low-key nights.

For some, the changes in Hackney and Newham have only impacted in the most superficial way. The entrepreneurial spirit which made grime take off in the first place isn’t that far removed from that spirit which is behind the burgeoning digital industry of the so-called Silicon Roundabout. Elijah Butterz, owner of the grime label Butterz and Rinse FM DJ, told us how the perception of this East End-born music has changed radically since some of its musicians have become national award nominated. “We used to be seen as criminals, not entrepreneurs,” he said. But the landscape has changed, especially given the need to branch out into different mediums – and the cheapness and ease of exploring those with the rise of mobile technologies.

But the Olympics, he adds, is something that’s just there in the background when he’s near his home, rather than something that’s impacted on his life. He added: “I have two friends who lost their jobs this week. I don’t think it’s a priority for them. I don’t think I know anyone who has gained anything out of it.”

He also concludes that the exposure of the music had actually taken it out of its postcode, to other parts of the country, so now it’s impossible to tell where the music is from – whereas previously it was all about locale. So East London’s looking outwards, suitably, at a time when millions of people across the world will be paying attention to it.

MUSICAL EVENTS

BT River of Music is a massive showcase of free music from both established and emerging talent. It takes place the weekend before the opening ceremony, so could be a good way of saving your account balance beforehand. The best thing about this is that it takes place across London so visitors don’t have to schlep across the capital for entertainment. Given the branding restrictions, there’s less likelihood of seeing professional musicians playing, but there is a chance to check out more idiosyncratic local groups and see how grassroots music develops.

Alternatively, it might be easier to stay at home and watch the musical events from your hotel or rented accommodation television. The BBC has – at time of severe cuts to other public services – spent millions on televising concerts celebrating the Olympics. Interestingly, one of the films commissioned is by Julien Temple, the director of The Great Rock and Rock Swindle which features ‘God Save the The Queen’-singing Sex Pistols. As well as staging the annual British proms, it will also be televising several concerts including Radio One’s Hackney Weekend 2012. Ironically, the television may be the only place where people get to see live music. The BBC has described it as the biggest ever free-ticketed live music festival it has ever hosted.

Residents of the Olympic boroughs saw one tangible return in the form of the the later concert. The curation here is probably the most contemporary and fun of all the events – Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj and Rihanna and Azealia Banks feature in the extensive list of credible acts. Those lucky enough to get free tickets are probably saving hundreds on seeing the acts perform on tour.

The most heavily branded of all the events taking place around the Olympics is Coca-Cola’s Olympic Torch Relay. Coca-Cola has organised a series of concerts marking the delivery of the Olympic torch to the borough, starting from Land’s End. The Olympics seems to cause musicians to abandon any credibility they once had. Katy B and Mark Ronson are teaming up for a Coca-Cola song created especially for Olympics titled ‘Anywhere in the World’.

Blur’s fixation with Britishness has paid off, as the band will be headlining the closing ceremony in Hyde Park – the site of their last major reunion in 2009. Let’s ignore the fact that it looks like Britain hasn’t had any era-defining bands in the past ten years, and that they are irrevocably associated with the more plentiful Labour government years. Despite their early battles with Oasis, they’re now a non-controversial crowd-pleaser (and credible with it).

Lead singer Damon Albarn is also reconvening his Africa Express through the Barbican and taking it on a tour around the UK, hitting up the other musical cities in the country such as Manchester and Leeds. It’s easy to forget about the nationwide impact of the Olympics funding on arts events – and how much more innovative or daring these can be, away from the cultural capital. The contemporary arts centre received a huge injection of funding to hold events because of its location within the City of London. It has already hosted a number of landmark shows including a staging of Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach. The area itself is a great place to experience the juxtapositions of this part of London. Walking around, it’s like a who’s who of the news – visitors can walk from the former grounds of Occupy St Pauls up to the banks and then finally arrive at the famed Silicon Roundabout.

The Olympics is often used to highlight world events, and this year’s celebrations are not any different. One of the major musical celebrations will start off in the former danger zone of Londonderry. The Peace One Day concert in London is a culmination of events organised across the world, called Global Truce which countdown to what it describes as the biggest reduction of global violence across the world. Singers at the event will include Pixie Lott and Newton Faulkner.

The New Music 20×12 Weekend might appeal to anyone with more experimental taste in music. Organised by the PRS for Music Foundation, the event brings together new and rising talent performing specially commissioned pieces. It’s also cross-platform, incorporating dance and film.

GOLD, SILVER AND BRONZE HITS OF THE OLYMPICS

Olympics music occupies that strange place – unlikely to be in the most ardent sports-lovers record collection, it nevertheless remains culturally resonant for years. We know it when we hear it, but would otherwise be stumped to name our favourite. For your benefit, we’ve put together some of the anthems and songs inspired by the world’s greatest show of strength.

1. Koreana ‘Hand in Hand’/1988 Seoul Games

Possibly has had one of the longer lifespans of any Olympics song in its home country. The video is quite something, and sums up why Korean pop has such a cult following abroad. It’s impossible not to feel lifted by this ridiculously anthemic number – despite being horrified by the 1980s hairstyles. The spectacle in it has to be seen to be believed, which is the Olympics’ mandate. Hundreds of dancers in red costumes swirl around each other in perfect co-ordination.

2. Celine Dion ‘The Power of the Dream’/1996 Atlanta Games

Celine dedicated all the money for this saccharine power ballad to Canadian athletes. The global star has been known for her left-wing gestures and her fierce loyalty to the French-speaking Canadian cause. The song extols the power of the collective imagination.

3. Gloria Estefan ‘Reach’/1996 Atlanta Games

The Latino singers contribution may have been inspired by her own experience of paralysis and her fight against it. The song was nominated for a Grammy. It’s a slow-burn song.

4. Tina Arena ‘The Flame’/2000 Sydney Games

Tina Arena was a huge star in her native Australia, and her presence with this song was a testimony to the country’s many home-grown but internationally undervalued stars. Interesting, the composer of The Flame went on to become the musical director of ‘Australian Idol’. It builds up to an epic second half following an average start.

5. Bjork ‘Oceania’/2004 Athens Olympics

Bjork was an unexpected choice – but if there’s an artist who is good at providing spectacle, then it’s the Icelandic singer. Her dress folded out into a 100,000 ft map of the world, which billowed like a giant cloud on the aerial view of the stadium. She was forced to sing to a backing track after the track without her voice was damaged, but refused to mime on stage. Despite that, the performance was one of the rare ones where there was a sense of intimacy, created by the fragile delicate voice. If only more cities had the same sense of adventure when it came to choosing performers.

6. ‘You and Me’ Liu Han/2008 Beijing Olympics

The Chinese anthem was sung by Huan and British opera star Sarah Brightman, both hugely established and popular in their native countries. It’s typically saccharine but that’s a minor point next to the city’s spectacular opening ceremony for the event.

7. ‘Barcelona’/1992 Barcelona Games

This was originally composed and sung by Freddie Mercury, who died shortly afterwards. The song also became somewhat of a national anthem which seems to be rare among these Olympic efforts. It was also played at UEFA games for several years after its release.

8. ‘Spinnin’’ Tinchy Stryder & Dionne Bromfield/2012 London Games

The 2012 Olympic anthem for London marks a departure from the traditional ballad aimed at older record-buyers. Stryder and soul singer Bromfield collaborate on this upbeat number, which still carries the traditional Olympic message of unity and goodwill.

9. Amigos Para Siempre/Sarah Brightman and Jose Carreras/1992 Barcelona

This song was performed at the Spanish premier’s funeral. Composed by the most British of composers Andrew Lloyd Webber, it was sung by operatic stars Sarah Brightman and Carreras. Like the other Barcelona anthem, it proved popular beyond the event.

10.Church Bell Music/ Martin Creed – 2012 London

This harks back to the art competitions that were held within the Olympics before the second world war. Conceptual artist Martin Creed (responsible for the on-off light switch which won the Turner Prize in 2001) proposes that bells everywhere in the country – from churches, to bikes, to that of town criers – are rung simultaneously on the first morning of the Olympics.

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BAMM In-Depth: Crowdfunding

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“What made me want to use the site? I didn’t feel like I had much of a choice. And I’ve since come to see the Indiegogo model as a sort of great Darwinistic-artistic trial. If there isn’t enough interest amongst fans, family, friends or colleagues in the project to raise the funds you require, then it’s possible the project was never meant to be. Mostly I see the process as fair, and infinitely more reasonable than the way films have been funded in the last century.”
Benjamin Shearn, 100% Silk videographer and editor

Crowdfunding has only got bigger since it came into prominence around the start of the global recession, with the launch of IndieGoGo in 2008. More and more bands and solo artists are turning to the crowdfunding model in order to finance their musical ambitions. Research from Venturebeat last year revealed that 68 per cent of the music campaigns on Kickstarter are successful. Music is one of the most competitive mediums, but it has also reaped some £36 million in donations on Kickstarter alone since the site’s inception. It’s a truism that bands must tour to make money instead of depending on record proceeds. Sites such as IndieGoGo and Kickstarter offer the chance to have money beforehand to set off the inevitable losses of touring, and making a record which – if successful – is likely to be downloaded illegally. The sites market themselves as fail-safe – the product gets a stamp of approval and bands get paid ahead of delivery. They act as “shop windows” for music lovers. But what about the argument, made famously by Steve Jobs, that consumers don’t know what they want before you give it to them. Is crowdfunding the way forward for all types of music artists? What happens to the traditional process of development? And what is the future role of the music label – if there is one at all?

Crowdfunding can be liberating and daunting for bands, depending on how much they are used to taking control of the process. One of the most revolutionary aspects is that it allows bands to “road test” their material beforehand with potential audiences. Design blogger Don Lehman has modelled the process of developing a product through the site, highlighting that campaigners must be able to show that they are working with a viable product to even begin raising funds. Does this put pressure on artists and bands? And does the system work for complete newcomers?

Glasgow-based musician DFRNT has previously released records through the label Echodub but found that he was unable to get money for the distribution and manufacture of his latest album. He had already put together the album when he decided to launch an IndieGoGo campaign. He told us: “Allowing people to essentially buy the album up front was genius. It meant guaranteed sales and a guaranteed audience (of at least a couple of hundred people) even before the CD was in existence. Not only that but that funding meant the ability to press enough to create a proper run of CDs and potentially vinyl – so there was possible long-term benefits as well as the instant gratification of support from fans who essentially put their trust in me to deliver a worthwhile project.”

So far, so good. But would he advise a relative newcomer to use the site? “Echodub and my work as DFRNT did have an initial fan base, so for a brand new label or producer it might be harder to get things off the ground, and I can see it being a major challenge, so it’s probably not an ideal solution for those new to the market. Not without some popularity surrounding the name or some hype on the release, and the more that people pick up on Kickstarter style funding, the less of a big deal will be made of it, and the less newsworthy it’ll be come.”

Crowdfunding will eventually become a harder option for bands, especially as more established artists disenchanted by labels will come on board. So what can a band do to increase their chances on the site and is the hard work worth it in the end? One of the major differences between IndieGoGo and Kickstarter is that the former gives artists the donations, whether they hit their target or not. This might be a fairer system given how much graft goes into getting a campaign off the ground in the first place. Speaking at a SXSW panel on crowdfunding, Kevin Breuner commented: “The crowdfunding project is easiest for solo artists. The challenge I found was how was I going to make this work with all of [our band] being represented well. A lot of the prime examples were solo artists who are good with people and on the internet.”

The role of fans is key to funding and development now. One of the major justifications of downloading has been the high price of CDs. Crowdfunding sites almost offer fans value-for-money by making the processes of manufacturing and distribution transparent – and cheaper. More significantly, rewards act as a way of encouraging donations, allowing fans to feel like their support is being recognised no matter the size of their contribution. But how much do bands really get out of campaigns in the end if they locked into a Groupon style redemption deal? The artists and producers we spoke to saw the rewards as incentive, rather than bait, to continue investing in the artist. Ben at 100% Silk said: “We kept the rewards simple, and also made sure to keep the value somewhat below the cash amount. I wanted to avoid the potential ‘bribery’ aspect of the perk system. Maybe I’m passé in my thinking, but it’s important that fans and funders really do have an interest in the finished film and aren’t just there for prizes. A film’s life doesn’t end once it’s funded and I personally would like to know if there will actually be any audience for it! Again, it goes back to this idea of artistic Darwinism. I think it’s best to keep the perks appropriately valuable but mostly just symbolic. That way it gives the filmmakers and producers a better idea of the genuine interest that’s out there.”

However, it might be more common for lower-key artists to offer up rewards which outstrip the value of donations. DFRNT commented: “My goal was to make [the rewards] appealing, without leaving me completely out of pocket. I wanted to have plenty options so I looked at what I had and what I was aiming for and based it from that. I also checked a few other campaigns to see how they were handling that sort of thing, and I was always conscious that I needed to give people almost more than their money’s worth so that investing in the project seemed like a no-brainer.”

Amanda Palmer is one artist who has embraced the model enthusiastically, seeing it as a way of realising her numerous projects and her own personal ‘brand’. She managed to raise over $1 million, starting with the relatively low-goal of $100,000, to fund a book launch and accompanying tour and album release. Fan-funders contributing $1 were entitled to a digital download, while $5,000 entitled fans to a private show in their home. Palmer raised over $4,000 in $1 dollar contributions alone. She was criticised for taking advantage of the crowdfunding avenue while she was on a label already. The polymath wrote a blog reply breaking down the costs of giving and shipping for free the gifts, and concluded that she would have less than $100,000 left from the campaign for her own ‘pay’.

Surprisingly, losing creative control is not considered a major concern. Ben believes that collaboration can work well, especially given the nature of the film medium. DFRNT also describes it as a enjoyable factor, and has shown fans album artwork beforehand to garner their response. Overall, it seems agreed that the process offers more control to artists than ever before, over every aspect such as the artwork, the overall design, and the music itself.
However, the price of creative control and ‘instant gratification’ could mean that projects have a limited lifespan. If bands factor in rewards and leave themselves the 20 per cent cushion for unforeseeable expenses advised by crowdfunding author Scott Steinberg, they are likely to have little money left for publicising when they have finished giving out rewards. Comfortingly, previous form is no absolute guarantee for funding. Relative unknowns Five Iron Frenzy campaigned for funding for their album, exceeding their initial funding goal to collect some £250,000. What made this possible was their smooth carefully co-ordinated approach to eliciting support. In comparison, Public Enemy was forced to lower its fundraising target by more than $100,000 from $250,000 to $75,000.

Despite all these caveats, there seems to be considerable optimism in the industry about what is achievable through these sites. There appear to be few cons. The main issue with crowd-funding has been that perception of it as ‘begging’ has been slow to shift, alerting more innocent consumers to the grubbiness of the music industry. The perception of crowdfunding as a last ditch option still persists. Writing for FACT, Angus Finlayson argued that the joy of much music comes from its mysteriousness. He cites artists like tricksters Hype Williams who like to to mess with fans’ expectations and not give them exactly what they want.

But more musicians see crowdfunding as a route to full independence- or negotiating more favourable terms with labels. Amanda Palmer’s Kickstarter campaign featured a picture of her holding up a sign saying ‘This is the future of music.’ After exceeding her campaign goal, she handed control over the marketing and distribution to the established British label Cooking Vinyl, which works closely with artists on controlling distribution and sales.

Sites are likely to become increasingly competitive, as bands fight for a good position from which to get noticed and the social networks on them become stronger. The lure of labels is unlikely to go away, despite persistent debates about their usefulness to artists. Writing for the Guardian, musician Helienne Lindvall argued that labels still have a significant role in helping artists develop. They are also have expertise in marketing and development which few crowdfunding services can offer. Others envision a completely different model, where bigger bands themselves could help support smaller ones in the musical ecosystem.

Ben Folds Five told O Music Awards : “[Crowdfunding] crazy stuff, but the music business will be the same. This is not different. This is just one set of douchebags going under, and another is going to rise. In the chaos, it’s exciting. There’s a moment for a certain class of musicians to get their stuff out there, but, again, back to the band next door: If they put something up on Kickstarter, what’s going to drive anyone to it? So it’s just now up to us — the bands that are stepping up and doing it in this way — we have a responsibility to reach out a hand and do something for the talent below. Because, like them or not, that’s what record companies used to do.”

For less daring, publicity-shy individuals, it could simply be a choice between a rock and a hard place. Ben from 100% Silk comments: “Clearly elements like site placement and the notoriety or lack thereof of the project pre-Indiegogo launch are factors, but mostly I see the process as fair, and infinitely more reasonable than the way films have been funded in the last century.”

It’s also possible to question whether using crowdfunding is a long-term solution. DFRNT said: “I would use the site again, although I don’t want to get in to the habit of just relying on it for funding. I think it would be lazy of me to just say “ah well, let’s do another funding campaign”. I think the ball is in my court now with regard to how I ensure that this isn’t just a one-off. I have to look at maximising the release and making sure that if there’s a return, then it goes towards funding the next release and so forth. Just being able to jump back to another IndieGoGo campaign is an easy way out, and people may get tired of contributing to products they don’t get immediately.”

However, crowdfunding is set to become even more credible as the model evolves. Earlier this year, My Major Company launched itself in the UK as the first online fan-funded label. Paul-Rene Albertini, an ex-Warner Brothers executive, began the label in France, in 2008. He does not simply see the model as a sleeker, streamlined recording company adapted for the web 2.0 generation.

He told Mashable: “There’s a new generation of artists out there, the DIY generation. I personally think that the new generation of artists is savvier than it has ever been in the past. They have access to all possible information and all sources of information through the web. They know how to position themselves out in the world.” The future continues to look bright for the most talented musicians, with a strong entrepreneurial streak. And it looks as though labels will eventually evolve to use other funding sources such as fans in order to reduce the traditional risks of offloading an unknown “product” on the market. It’s not romance, but at least there’s finance. It might be a Darwinian-artistic ritual, but the signs are that fans will continue to crave variety, diversity and that unquantifiable spark shown by artists such as Amanda Palmer and Ben Folds Five.

THE CROWDFUNDING HEAVY-HITTERS – A RUNDOWN

1. Kickstarter

Kickstarter brought crowdfunding into the mainstream. The site is currently only for creative ventures in the US, meaning it is still relatively small. Despite its limited outreach, it has scored some of the highest profile projects in the short history of internet-based crowdfunding. This year, Double Fine Productions succeeded in raising over $3 million dollars in funding for its adventure game within 24 hours of launching its campaign – marking the first single day in which the site has raised over a million dollars. Other multiple zero success stories have included inventor Casey Hopkins’ iPod dock and the Pebble E-Watch, which was famously turned down by several investors before raising over £10 million through its Kickstarter campaign.

Despite complaints about poor quality control, the site actually makes musicians and artists apply to use its platform. However, if they fail to meet their fundraising target, donations are returned to fans. This can be frustrating given the amount of work it takes to continue eliciting funds from strangers using the site. Critics of crowdfunding might approve of this Darwinian approach, as it means the best projects are more likely to stay the course.

2. IndieGoGo

IndieGoGo launched in 2008, making it the grand dame of crowdfunding sites. Its age is reflected by its scope – it’s active in 196 countries and accepts campaigns in every area, from sustainable lighting to budget films. Campaigners on here can still receive their donations even if they don’t get to their desired targets, which allows smaller, more quirky projects to thrive. One such project was ‘Suits for Wall Street’ which helped raise over $2,000 for Occupy protesters to buy ‘camouflage’ to disguise themselves on Wall Street. More conventional projects include the Satarii Star Accessory, a dock that allows mobile phone cameras to register an individual’s moves for filming. Artist DFRNT tells us: “The beauty of IndieGoGo over Kickstarter was that you didn’t need to reach your funding target in order to get the money that had been contributed – which allowed for a tiered approach – If I made some of my target I could scale the press down accordingly, so there was less risk.”

IndieGoGo received a $15 million funding injection earlier this year. Prior to this, its only outside funding had been a £1.5 million seed fund. Speaking to Forbes, founder Slava Rubin said that the success of the site was based on its empowerment of its users. He told the website: “The number one method for driving new customers is word of mouth. Successful campaigns lead to more campaigns. Also, we empower campaign owners with the share tools to reach out to their network. That in-turn excites funders to become campaign owners.”


3. Queremos

Queremos has enabled some of the most biggest and commercially successful indie bands such as LCD Soundsystem and Vampire Weekend to perform to audiences in South America. Acting as an on-demand system, fans can get bands over to perform by paying for tickets upfront. If the money meets the cost of promoters, the band and the technicians, the gig goes ahead. Fans only receive the tickets, rather than any further incentives. The musicians deal with the promoters, rather than the fans, so it doesn’t have the DIY element of the more traditional crowdfunding sites. It’s a way of offloading the risks of touring, when touring is also the main source of many bands’ incomes.

4. PledgeMusic

Solely dedicated to one artistic medium, this site’s biggest name so far has been Ben Folds Five. The trio raised just over three times their funding target, offering loyal (and wealthy) fans the chance to have framed and signed lyrics and their names written into songs. The general look of PledgeMusic is a little bit drier but it has a better interface for showcasing all of the projects which are on the site. There’s also a big emphasis on its professionalism, with its ‘About’ page announcing support and expertise from music industry stalwarts. It aims to distinguish itself from a fan-funding site by saying it wants to increase longevity of the artists – a fair enough distinction given the way that it doesn’t simply focus on one-off projects. Most significantly, it gives artists support from the beginning to the end of their venture to make sure they get the most out of their money – and that fans get a decent product.

5. Feed the Muse

Feed the Muse was created by MilkBoy, a Philadelphia-based studio which claims it was responding to changes in the music industry and the funding climate for independent artists. However, it decided to broaden its music brief after the site proved popular with creative ventures of all kinds, including theatrical outfits and “newly-weds”, according to the site. Fan rewards aren’t a critical part of the campaigns, with the site encouraging artists and musicians to “tap” into their existing social networks and traditional funding routes of friends and family using the site’s tools.

6. Rockethub

This is a more hands-on site co-funded by crowdfunding guru Brian Meece. The site not only hosts projects in every area, it also has what it describes as “launchpad” opportunities for its users. Successful projects which have hit their fundraising target are allowed to submit their venture for free, potentially getting the opportunity for publicity worth millions. Like PledgeIt, it aims to make the users of its site loyal by offering add-on services and opportunities to distinguish themselves from the other campaigners.

7. My Major Company

It deviates from its earlier French model by heading into traditional A & R territory. Fans select from 12 artists, chosen by the label, and decide who to invest in. The deal helps the artist develop their material, with fans reaping 40 per cent of their money back if the musician goes on to be successful.

8. Sellaband

Sellaband hit the news early on with its bankruptcy and later acquisition by German investors, in 2010. The site reportedly saw itself as primarily a fan-funded label, but was criticised for treating both its acts and its fan-funders poorly. Unlike the other crowdfunding services, it provides money for capital expenditure, such as equipment. The stakes are much higher, with bands expected to raise $50,000 and above to get backing. Public Enemy have been its highest profile user so far.

9. Crowdbands

Like My Major Company, Crowdbands was started up by record company executives recognising the need for a newer more democratic model. The site aims to launch up to ten unsigned acts a year, with the support of up to 30,000 members. It channels years of expertise into marketing and A&R in managing and developing bands, while giving fans the chance to help make creative decisions. However, one of the first bands on its roster is The Donnas who had major label success in the early 2000s. They also have experience of fan-funding after having two concerts financed by their fans, otherwise known as ‘Donnaholics’.

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