Fan power

Posted by Rob Walker on March 5, 2008
Posted Under: Fandom,Music

Just reading this AP story about Jill Sobule’s effort to get her fans to bankroll her next recording session, I was a little surprised about this detail: If you donate $10, you get a free download of the resulting record, and for $500 or more, “Sobule will mention your name in a song, maybe even rhyme with it.”

I know the official response to this sort of thing is supposed to be that it’s great that an artist can avoid the crass music business, and fans are so empowered, etc. But there’s something a little creepy about this $500-and-I’ll-mention-your-name thing. I guess it’s sort of funny. But really, is this what being an artist is about now?

Anyway, according to her site as I type, she’s raised more than $65,000.

Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page.

Reader Comments

I’m not sure this differs from how all the great Renaissance art was created and much art before the rise of the middle class, mass markets, and commerce. Patrons wanted their face or name in the work. She’s offering middle-class Medicis a chance to be patrons.

#1 
Written By Glenn Fleishman on March 5th, 2008 @ 11:04 am

Yeah, I see what you’re saying, and I knew I was going to get flak for going against the conventional wisdom on this.

I guess I just wonder how I’d feel about, say, some favorite old Elvis Costello album if it included a track where he gave shout-outs to all his financial backers.

It just doesn’t seem very rock and roll to me.

But I don’t begrudge her or anybody else the decision to do whatever it takes etc etc.

#2 
Written By Rob Walker on March 5th, 2008 @ 11:15 am

If you knew Jill Sobule (and I do), you would find this very amusing, with virtually no chance of it being lame or creepy or un-rock. This “assignment” will get her sharp-witted but kind-hearted treatment, and the resulting song will be wickedly amusing, surprisingly touching, and a wry commentary on the modern music industry, all at once. That’s my prediction.

And, by the way, her dedicated fans have added $15,000 to the big board since the original post. She’s reached — and exceeded — her goal.

#3 
Written By Tony C on March 8th, 2008 @ 8:33 pm
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