Thursday, April 12, 2012

Boo Hoo, Broke Writer: You May Hate Kickstarter, But You're Part of the Problem, or: Jesus, THIS Again?

True Confessions from DJ's Brain Dept.: Today I spent some time hanging out on United Record Pressing's 10" vinyl quote generator, out of a bit of masochistic curiosity. See, part of me is a little bummed that my band's most recent collection of songs, a digital-only EP that includes what i consider to be some of our best material to date, isn't going to get a physical release, because we are poor working-class schmucks who have to work day jobs and don't have moneyed parents to bankroll our foolish rock 'n' roll fantasies (which, really, for a bunch of dudes in our 30s would be more flat-out embarrassing than it is for 20-somethings). So out of curiosity, i ran the numbers:

10" Records (300): $270
Music Source (Sending a CD): $330
Plating (Standard Two-Step Plating): $225
How many (if any) do you want colored? (Eh, 300, why not?)
Which color other than black (translucent green would be pretty sweet): $120
Setup Charge: $80
Test Pressing: $95
Labels (eh, let's be frugal here--one color ink on one color paper): $110
Inner Sleeves (plain white paper dust sleeves): $0 (yay!)
Jackets (Standard Single Pocket CMYK Custom Jacket): $895 (printing costs, man, i tells ya)
Are we inserting your records into jackets? (Yes, because we're lazy and it's only an extra) $18
Offer free Downloads (We use Bandcamp, so no): $0
Are we putting download cards into jackets? (Yes, because we're using Bandcamp) $18
Shrink Wrap (Yes, because we're not savages): $36
Generic download sticker on shrink wrap? (Nah) $0
Estimated Total (excluding shipping): $2197

And man, let's not even think about the G.D. shipping.

Here's where we get to the shameful confession: looking at that figure, and thinking about the recently successful Kickstarter campaign by Zebras, that band i'm still sort of in kind of, that raised $2500 to get the new record pressed, it briefly occurred to me that maybe that wouldn't be a difficult record for us to fund...through Kickstarter! The service that i have previously questioned and criticized in this very blog! As everyone knows, once you share an opinion on the internet, that's your opinion forever, and it's set in stone, and you aren't allowed to change your mind without dozens of commenters calling you out for being a dirty hypocrite ass-bastard. So obviously we won't be doing that.

Besides, why would we want to run the risk of incurring the wrath of Michael Mann of, Vancouver's Online Source (which, wtf kind of name is that for a website? What's their sister site,

I'm assuming this isn't the Michael Mann that writes for, but i needed some sort of image for this post, dammit

Stop trying to get me to fund your fucking album with a Kickstarter campaign. Same goes for getting your merch produced, your motel rooms paid for, and your bar tab settled. It makes you and your bandmates come across as a bunch of shameless and entitled pricks. You don’t see me aggressively asking people to pony up for my summer-long, cross-country cocaine and drunken slut–boning binge. So why is it okay when musicians do this?

Oh, hey! One of those blatantly provocative internet comment-magnet share-bait columns that plays the asshole in order to make a point--one i more or less agree with! This could be fun!

Instead of panhandling online, here’s a novel idea: crowdsource a little business acumen and produce something people actually want to give you money for. At least the homeless guy on the corner has the decency to make a funny sign and do 50 one-armed pushups if I toss him a few shekels. What are you offering, some MP3s and a shout-out on Twitter? Christ, if your album’s any good I’ll be able to cop it for free off the Pirate Bay.

Oh, jeez, so this guy's making his point by casting himself as contrarian as possible and casting himself as a cheap-ass downloading prick who doesn't support bands. OK, i'm sure dude's just playing a role here, but that's fairly Part of the Problem of him, no?

You want a handout? Release some halfway decent music you recorded in your apartment and give it away for free. I’ll come check you out and pay the $10 cover. (I’m speaking as a metaphorical everyman here. I don’t actually pay cover, ever.)

Ooooo-kay. Now dude's just trollin'.

As anyone who's been paying attention to me (read: nobody) knows, i'm not a big fan of the whole Kickstarter thing. I don't hate it, per se--after all, it's a tool, like any other, and like a hammer, it can be used to build something cool or to give everyone around you a headache. I guess what i'm really not a fan of is the removal of risk from creativity. Frankly, if my band's going to go on tour, we should be mentally prepared to lose our asses, money-wise. Why? Because if you love doing something, you should be willing to risk valuable things to make that something happen. Because if a bunch of "patrons" pay for our tour before we've driven a mile or played a note, we have no incentive to actually promote and try to get people out to the shows. This is DIY punk rock, not a vanity project.

I really want to get behind this dude's desire to own Facebook feeds across North America for an entire Thursday, because that Paper Lions band looks like douchebaggery at its most invasive and vinegar-fueled. (Seriously, i haven't heard a note, but those sweaters and pennants make them look like Vampire Weekend without the ethnic credibility.) But when he drops turds like "if your record's good, I'll just download it off Piratebay" or "I never pay cover," he's just coming off as an asshole for the sake of being an asshole. Dude, that attitude is exactly why so many musicians are tempted to pre-fund and crowdsource everything they do--because they know there are cheapskate asshats out there who don't think even good music is worth their money. Who's the "entitled prick" now? Is it really "panhandling" when you're just trying to find a way to make thieves pay a fair price for your product?

Hey, i get that this dude is likely just role-playing in print, but i didn't get this far in life without learning that role-playing is for desperate couples with atrophying sexual prowess and nerds that never had any. So, ok, let's have our fun publicly shaming Kickstarter's abusers (because holy crap, is it ever fun), but howsabout we start valuing physical music again and make the abuse less tempting? (And yes, part of the music/music consumer contract involves us musicians making music that is good enough to warrant value, but if you think good music is given a dollar value these days, i'll eat my next paycheck. [Ha! Joke's on you, jackass-it's direct deposit!])

I'll be honest--the idea of trying a campaign to see if we could get a Sexy Results physical release funded is awfully tempting. But at the end of the day, i'd rather we sell home-dubbed cassette tapes in plastic bags with download codes (which we totally did) and not annoy the piss out of everyone for a month while begging for money. Frankly, we annoy the piss out of everyone just enough as it is.

1 comment:

  1. Right on, DJ. Y'know, looking at those numbers, I think the days of printed jackets are on the wane for the indie band. It's time for us to come up with some cool stamp/paste option that doesn't look chintzy and cheap. Might take a while, but when the records themselves (including test presses, lacquers, etc.) cost less than the covers? That just seems ridiculous.

    Oh, and that white guy is a dick.

    Boyer out.