A couple of months ago I had an opportunity to combine my love of heavy music, social networking and tech blogging to support a band which I’ve been following by the name of City of Fire.
The band is now at close to double their original funding target via the Pledge Music website, and will be able to fund the mixing of the album and a promotional video with a few more pledges. Their first single is due out in a month’s time. I have a personal interest in that single as that is the song that will be handwritten for me by the singer/songwriter Burton C. Bell.
This month is the 20th anniversary of an album that literally turned the music world on its head when it was released – Nevermind by Nirvana. I was a teenager when that album came out and can still listen to it today with a little nostalgia but also a degree of pleasure that it still holds up to today’s batch of artists.
(As a side note, there is a link between City of Fire and Nirvana. Burton C. Bell, City of Fire’s vocalist, was actually one of the young fans in the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video, and also covered the Nirvana song “School” on Fear Factory’s Archetype album.)
Nirvana was a phenomenon that will probably not be repeated because of the much more fragmented state of music today. Nirvana were able to speak to an entire generation regardless of their music tastes, but today it is much less likely that any band would have that singular influence on the music culture.
Despite their stardom and success, Nirvana’s music itself still sounds rebellious and independent. Bands with a similar attitude and style looking to get their big break have a dizzying array of ways to connect to fans that weren’t available back in Nirvana’s day. The closest one would get to hearing Kurt Cobain’s thoughts would have been to attend a concert or read an interview in a magazine.
Nowadays bands, and in particular the musicians themselves, can create an intimacy and direct relationship with fans that can be a reward in itself, or in the case of City of Fire, result in the creation of new music. I had the General Manager of Roadrunner records in Canada responding directly to my questions regarding the pledge – you really can’t get much more direct than a senior record label executive corresponding with you.
Crowdfunding and social media interaction are all part and parcel of an independent artist’s activity to not only get noticed, but get up close and personal with fans and interested onlookers. It really doesn’t matter how niche your music is, or even where you are geographically situated – if you make the effort to mingle and interact with your followers, your journey will be partly theirs.
Just like crowdsurfers at a rock concert, the brief touch of a thousand virtual hands will help carry bands like City of Fire to where they belong – in the studio, forging new music and then on the road, sharing that passion with fans and music listeners everywhere.
(Ritchie listened to the entire Nevermind album while writing this post and indulged in some private air drumming on selected songs.)
It has the potential to mobilise new money at a time when traditional support is becoming less easily available, they are free to setup a crowdfunding site, no funding limit and their many more advantages.
“New money” is a good way to put it, as this form of global support, no matter what your creative bent is, can now be tapped into if your fan base is strong enough. Over time I hope it helps fledgling and existing artists to become successful and free to perform and creative great works of music, writing or another other artistic endeavour.