03. 12. 2008
Jill Sobule is ready for the new digital recorded music age
Many will recall Indie musician Jill Sobule from her track "I Kissed a Girl." The song was a cross-over hit, and the video (the one co-starring Fabio) got a lot of MTV airplay in the 1990s. I saw her play a few years ago when she was touring with Lloyd Cole as a member of his band, the Negatives. Years later, Sobule is still touring and recording music. After going through a handful of music labels, both big and small, she is currently creating her own path.
Where Radiohead has now famously asked fans to pay what their latest CD is worth, Sobule has taken a slightly different route. In January, she asked fans on her website, Jill's Next Record, to donate money before the she makes her next album. In telethon-like fashion, she asked fans to help her reach a goal of $75,000, which would cover studio time, producers, additional musicians and post-production. By March, she had reached her goal and raised over $80,000.
Traditionally, a music label would pay for the recording upfront, but then get paid back from CD sales, and also get a large percentage of royalties. Instead of getting a share of sales, Sobule offers donors tiered prizes for different levels of donation, just like non-profits often do. For example, $10 gets you a digital download, $500 a mention on an instrumental track, $1000 your own theme song, and for $10,000 (which one fan paid) you get to sing on the record. Sobule assures us that post-production can fix being tone deaf.
The recording industry is undergoing a lot of change, and no one really knows what the future will look like in the next age of digital music distribution. I'm pretty excited that Sobule is experimenting with new ways of producing music by leveraging tools like the Internet. In her case, it seems to be working. Now she has the funds to do what she really is meant to do - write and record music.