The beauty of pledging

pledgemusic_splitI think by now anyone who reads this blog knows how much of a music fangirl I am. It is rare to find me without my headphones, or with something blaring out of the massive speakers in my flat. Music has always played a massive part in the person I am, from my first album, to the gigs I go to, to as far as the people I’ve met and become close friends with down the years. I’m no musician, but I certainly have an ear for music, and a near encyclopaedic knowledge – basically most of my life revolves around it, and there are certain albums that I can remember or point to that were special to me at any given time.

With all this in mind it is safe to say that I have a massive music collection, most of it bought, although I’m not going to say I’ve never illegally downloaded something as that would be an outright lie but that’s usually for things that are rare as rocking horse shit to get your hands on (Coil’s Horse Rotorvator switches hands at over £50 these days!!), or for stuff that I’ve bought once before and the CD is knackered. On the flip side of this, there have been times where I have bought several copies of the same CD, either for myself (I have 3 copies of Chrysalide’s ‘Don’t Be Scared It’s About Life‘ because each version had different remixes on them) or I wanted to introduce a friend to a much-loved CD (Certainly done this with Kilowatts & Vanek’s ‘Rawq’ CD), and well, this is generally the way of the fangirl – you do what it takes to complete collections and bring something special in to people’s lives. I’m not going to defend illegal downloads as being a fan of a lot of independent music, every sale counts. It keeps music being made. A lot of musicians I know don’t earn a living from their music because of this, and do you know what would be awesome? If they could. That they could spend all their time making the music they wanted to, but still could earn money to support themselves and their families. It only seems right and fair. However, A lot of people don’t see things as I do and people will still download without a penny going back to the artists themselves.

This is the point where it looks like I’m against music swapping hands online. I’m actually not. Some of my favourite bands I wouldn’t have heard of unless someone had sent me some tracks – that certainly happened with how I got in to Kilowatts & Vanek, and since then I have spent money on many copies of CDs, and even went all the way to Germany in 2007 just to go and see them – but there has to be a balance between those who illegally download and music fans who would quite literally bankrupt themselves for the music they love. When I was younger, every Saturday usually involved a trip to Andy’s Records (Now closed) in Grimsby as they had the best selection of rock and metal, and were brilliant at getting hold of imports, but these days going to the record store isn’t the biggest deal for most teenagers. Mp3 has made the buying of music quite disposable. There’s no value for them as they didn’t have to save pocket-money for a CD, and there’s little pleasure to be derived from seeing that a download has completed. I loved getting my hands on a new CD, and unwrapping it, listening to it, looking at the artwork – so many senses were involved – discovering a new album was brilliant, and with the birth of pledging, I think this is going to come back in to consuming music.

What’s so great about pledging then? To me, pledging feels special – it feels like you can have some small impact in how music is made, that the person making that music knows you exist. You have a direct line, of a sorts, to your favourite musicians. Record companies were always so keen on keeping the fan and musician at arm’s length, and I never did understand that – all I wanted was a scrawled signature in my CD, or a photo or something – just the ability to meet people whose music shaped me. Pledging feels a little bit like that, as with some pledges you could even invite said musician to your house (if you have the money!) and I don’t see regular record companies doing that, unless it involved some hair brained competition that involved lots of marketing….blah! If fans are tuned in to someone, or some CD, they’ll make their voices heard. Look at the success of Amanda Palmer, and her reaching over £1,000,000 on her Kickstarter campaign, and Ginger hitting 555% of his pledge campaign in a mere few days – you don’t need marketing there, you just need to appeal to your fans. No bullshit. You give the musicians money, and this is what you get. You’ve got no one making money anywhere that didn’t deserve to, and you get the music that the musician wants to make and the fan wants to hear. I recently got my pledge package through from Caustic and opening that up was brilliant as I got so much for so little – monetarily speaking. There was stickers, dog tags, fridge magnets, 2 cd’s (signed), a vinyl of one of Matt’s side projects and a T-Shirt, and a story he is writing for me right now and will be delivered soon enough, all for $100, which in pounds sterling is about £50 – the t-shirt and CDs would be worth that on their own. So not only, in most cases, do you get more for your money with pledging, but you get to help a musician make the music they want to make without some record company arsehole getting involved – could you imagine somewhere out there is another person like Simon Cowell? Fuck that basically! Take your money and give it straight to the artist, or go search around on Pledgemusic or Kickstarter and see if there’s something else that takes your fancy – just don’t keep putting money in the wrong hands. Support music directly and you can help unleash something awesome on the world, maybe even a CD that changes someone’s life.

Pretty exciting idea huh? 🙂

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