Is crowdfunding the future of the music industry?
The industry is changing around us, but some people think they've found the future
As crowdfunding becomes increasingly popular, we look at the highs and lows of five campaigns in our world, from financing new music to saving bands’ careers...
Protest The Hero raised funds online for last album Volition, and now they’re embarking on a brave new subscription model
Protest The Hero made the bold choice to leave their record labels in the US, Canada and the UK, and crowdfund their fourth album themselves. In January 2013, they launched an Indiegogo campaign and reached their original goal of $125,000 (£87,600) in less than a day, with the total eventually climbing to $341,000 (£241,000) – the platform’s second-biggest-ever campaign. The following July, they released Volition.“It’s exciting, because it’s like a ‘fuck you’ to the music industry,” guitarist Tim Millar laughs. “We were at the point where we were unsure if we’d made the right choice in continuing to pursue music. Reaching the goal in under 24 hours was astonishing; it was a huge reaffirmation that people like what we’re doing and want us to continue.”
Breaking free from the middlemen also allowed the Canadians to network with fans and promoters with ease. “We sold four $5,000 guest spots [on Volition],” says Tim. “One of the guys that came in was a professionally trained singer, so we got him to do all these high harmonies. And we have some shows in Japan this year that came about from an email to the band page. It’s nice that it’s so easy for people to get in touch with us.”
It's a fuck you to the music industry
The success of Volition spurred them on to create a subscription platform, Pacific Myth, through Bandcamp. Fans pay a minimum of $12 and receive a new song a month for six months, as well as content such as pictures, lyrics, musical transcriptions and videos.
“That was more of an investment [than crowdfunding], because we have to record songs and videos, but there’s more of a return,” says Tim. “We’re finally capitalising on selling our music, which is something we’ve always been in the negative with when it comes to labels.”
Protest The Hero do maintain some ties to the traditional industry; UK label Spinefarm distributed Volition following the crowdfunding campaign. Meanwhile, the guys are so busy with writing and recording music, as well as managing their online platform, that they hired an independent publicist to help promote them. “We get a lot more from that as opposed to a label publicist who has 30 bands,” says Tim. “We’re not against working with labels, it just has to be in a fairer environment.”