Kickstarters worth kickstarting.


As a general rule, I am sick of everyone Kickstarting everything. For one thing, the amounts requested have become rather exorbitant. Even as a Veronica Mars fan, I don’t understand why wealthy people backed by Warner Bros. need $2 million from us, up front, to make a movie happen. Or why fans were so enticed by ‘rewards’ like paying to appear as an extra in the Veronica Mars movie that they ended up giving millions beyond the original goal amount. In the country music realm, I don’t understand why Jo Dee Messina needs $100,000 to make an album – or why, at that price, we need another Jo Dee Messina album, given how little indication there is that she’ll do anything more interesting than what she did on Curb.

Still, you have to respect that the system is essentially democratic, and the projects that get funded are the ones that enough other people actually want to see happen. Even when the outcomes baffle us.

In that spirit, I will now shamelessly shill for two current Kickstarters I deem worthy.

scott obrien kickstarterThe first is Darrell Scott & Tim O’Brien’s Memories & Moments Kickstarter, which already appears well on its way to a $30,000 goal with 21 days remaining. Given that it’s a Darrell Scott and Tim O’Brien collaboration we’re talking here, you’ll eventually need to buy the album anyway when it starts appearing on all the Best of 2013 lists. You might as well secure some early-adopter bragging rights by reserving your downloads, CDs, and other goodies now. The pair’s previous studio album, Real Time from 2000, netted them a Grammy nomination. More recently, we reviewed their 2012 live album We’re Usually a Lot Better Than This in glowing terms. Scott chatted and previewed some of the new music on WSM’s “Coffee, Country & Cody” recently.

The second is George Palmer Macias’ Water on Tin Kickstarter. Longtime readers might recall our favorable coverage of Macias’ first solo album, Firefly, back in 2009. This is his follow-up, and it’s easy to root for a scrappy passion project by a guy more people should know about. Rewards start at the very reasonable level of a full album download for a paltry $3 donation. Here’s the campaign’s video package:


  1. KC says

    I’m too broke to support the campaigns, but I appreciate you highlighting some worthwhile projects. I’m looking forward to hearing the new Darrell Scott & Tim O’Brien album.

    I think it’s annoying how campaigns like Jo Dee Messina’s say Kickstarter is a new way of doing things, but then the artists want the same budget and make the same music as when they’re on a major label. Kickstarter is great if you’re an independent artist who would have to save up for years to record a new album. If you’re already rich, I think it just enables greedy people to make more money from their gullible fans. Fans are free to say no, but it still seems immoral to me for wealthy artists to even ask.

    • Erik says

      I would agree with your point if Reba McEntire was the one asking fans to pay for the record, but for Jo Dee who hasn’t had a hit single or album in eight years and whose success was spotty at best before that definitely isn’t packing loads of cash.

      • KC says

        I guess it wasn’t clear, but I wasn’t referring to Jo Dee being rich. I have no idea what her finances are like, but I’m sure you’re right that it’s not Reba level. I do think any musical artist asking for $100,000 is excessive though.

    • says

      Messina obviously isn’t Reba wealthy, but I’d hope she’s at least wealthier than those of us who don’t have concert bookings in 11 different states over the next two months.

      Anyway, to me, the better point is that going straight to the fans with a request for a bloated, big-label budget to make an album of same-y music, rather than relying on an actual bloated big label to get that budget, isn’t really an improvement for anyone but Jo Dee Messina. Unless the album ends up being obviously and dramatically better than anything she ever would have been allowed to do on Curb… which I doubt.

      • says

        How much does a record typically pay out for an album to be recorded? I do agree that her album better be drastically better (and even different) than what she would have recorded with Curb. As for the VM movie, they didn’t ask for a lot of money as far as movie budgets are concerned, so I thought it was a very cool grassroots event. Then again, I like the idea of fans helping to fund things. It’s not like a fan has to give more than they can afford, but by contributing the amount of money that you’d spend on an album, you can typically get at least a little more than you would if you bought it a traditional way.

        • says

          I get the appeal to fans of particular artists/projects and can see that this is, at a certain level, just preordering by any other name. I guess it just starts rubbing me the wrong way as the askers get high-profile and goal amounts go through the roof.

          $2 million, while not a lot for a major film, was a landmark amount to crowd-fund on Kickstarter at the time. I think maybe that success has emboldened others to ask for more than they would have otherwise. Too much, in some cases.

  2. malcolm says

    I gave $50 to the veronica mars campaign. Rob Thomas had been trying to make the movie for years without success. He even turned in a treatment that was turned down by Joel Silver, for financial reasons – . There was no way the movie was going to get made. But the fans wanted it, and were willing to pay up front to get it made.

    In essence, I paid for a digital download and dvd in advance. If someone would have asked me a couple years ago, “would you pay to see a veronica mars movie? And then get a DVD of it afterwards?”, the answer would have been of course.

  3. Mike Wimmer says

    I supported the Jason Eady one from earlier this year, I’m not big on Kickstarter, but ill dip my toes in for artists like Eady and Drew Kennedy. The Tracy Lawrence/Messina kickstarters get ignored by me, I dont know the exact finances of recording an album, but both those artists should have enough support to still get albums made without going to Kickstarter.

  4. Dave says

    Lonestar are doing a similar thing, though not through Kickstarer, and I’m very disappointed with them. The video they have on their site asking for fans is fascinating: they name-check the album constantly, grin and talk about ‘rewards’ the fans can get, and earnestly say how ‘excited’ they are, presumably to make fans think there’s genuinely something to be excited about. The money they’re asking too is just exorbitant, and what fans will get in return is meager by comparison. When you think that are loaded with cash themselves, it’s just not right. They and all these other artists are taking advantage of fans’ loyalty and appetite for new product.

  5. Jack WIlliams says

    Well, this inspired me to stop procrastinating and make a pledge to the Darrell Scott/Tim O’Brien project. Also recently made a pledge on some other site for Scott Miller’s upcoming album. It comes down to the fact that I trust these particular artists until proven otherwise and I REALLY want to hear their new albums.

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