First there was Myspace, that mid-00s social network/music streaming site founded by a guy called Tom.
Then came iTunes? Or was it Facebook? Or SoundCloud? Bandcamp? Grooveshark? Rdio?
Who the hell knows how to distribute and promote music online any more.
Ever since the once monolithic Myspace was diminished beyond recognition, online music has been in flux.
One emerging platform for hearing and being heard is Kickstarter, the crowd-funding site for creative projects. Bands post their demos on the site and ask for donations to complete their albums. The record-buying public may refuse to pay for finished products, opting instead to download pirated versions free, but it will happily donate money to finish an album of its liking. It's confusing, but it works.
What's the idea behind your next album?
We picked a day at random, ordered 1,500 copies of the Globe and Mail for that day and we're writing a whole record inspired by the headlines and stories in it. We'll release the album exactly one year to the day after the paper originally hit the streets (March 30, 2013), and the first 1,500 copies sold will be shipped with a copy of the paper.
Why did you choose Kickstarter?
Overall, it was a lot easier to spread the word. The sharing options are very visible. I also like that Kickstarter has a community of its own made up of people who browse for projects they like, contribute and share online.
So were you tired of your SoundCloud account or what?
As a band, we've experimented with all kinds of technology to promote ourselves. We were streaming live video and audio from our shows for free on our site until we got our streaming gear ripped off in South Carolina.
The industry is evolving, and artists are more comfortable with a direct relationship with their supporters. We parted ways with our label and management before our last album, which was a bit of a gamble, but our fan community stepped up and showed us they were willing to get involved and support us directly, which is humbling.
We've got over 700 backers on Kickstarter at this point, and it's shocking to me how many names on the list I can put faces to without having to try too hard. It's a new era, both in artistic freedom and artistic patronage.
How much does it cost to make an album? So far, you have $50K-plus. You could probably make three albums with that. What will you do with the money?
Believe it or not, we'll be squeezing every dollar.
Why did you choose the Globe instead of, say, NOW Magazine?
We contacted a couple of papers. We were looking for something national, and we needed a paper that would give us the widest possible variety of stories to choose from. We got lucky: the front-page headline March 30 was "Harper's modest revolution," and The Modest Revolution is an awesome album title. We hope.