Connecting through KickstarterWritten by Mike Bauman | | email@example.com
For artists like Mind Fish and Tropic Bombs, making music is about making a connection. That’s why despite living in an age where getting music digitally reigns supreme, both bands launched Kickstarter projects to try and separate themselves from the pack and give their fans something tangible to hold onto.
“We want people who actually enjoy listening to our music—we want to give them something,” Tropic Bombs’ vocalist Ryan Wayton said. “That’s why we go out and sell tickets, and deliver tickets and hang out with the people because we love the people themselves. It’s as much about the people and the fans as it is about, just, the music.
“Who cares if someone downloads our song and listens to it? But if they can come and experience it, or get something out of it or have something to keep from it like a physical CD? That’s what we want.”
With Tropic Bombs hailing from Toledo and Mind Fish featuring two St. Francis de Sales alums in Dean Tartaglia (vocals/guitar/keys) and drummer Steve Warstler (drums/backing vocals), the two bands have had success locally through extensive DIY campaigning via social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to reach out to fans. So when it came time for each to put out their new full-lengths, they wanted to do something special by producing physical copies instead of just downloads.
Enter Kickstarter.com, a site which helps creators in areas such as art, music, film and design fund their respective projects. Creators are given up to 60 days to raise the amount they need to fund their project, but if they don’t meet that goal in the time allotted all the donations go back the donators. If a project is successfully funded, Kickstarter collects five percent of the funding total while its payments processor (Amazon) charges credit card processing fees “that generally work out to 3-5%.”
“I think for bands who don’t have the support of a record label and can’t put down a couple-thousand dollars for a project, it’s, like, a professional way to reach out to your little community,” Tartaglia said of Kickstarter. “And I think it’s a real big step for a lot of different bands who are looking to do some of these kind of projects.”
Giving back to fans
For Mind Fish, who finished recording its new album “WATCHOUT!” in August, the goal of its Kickstarter project was to get the record professionally mastered and press 1,000 copies of it for physical distribution, a process that would cost the band approximately $1,000. Thanks to help from family and supporters, Mind Fish was able to raise its $1,000 goal within one week of launching the project in September.
And while the band was happy to reach its goal in such a short period of time, the fun part of its Kickstarter project was coming up with unique giveaways for donators, who at a certain donation level get the rewards for that level plus all previous levels.
“You can kind of tell with some Kickstarter [projects] when it’s like some people are just kind of trying to raise money and they’re not really thinking about what they can give back,” Tartaglia said. “And I know when we got into it, we were just really excited about what we could give back.”
Among the more creative rewards offered by Mind Fish were Tartaglia composing and recording personalized songs for $50 donators—of which he ended up making over a dozen songs—and a private show with the band at $250. The group also offered a “Snack Time Package” for $200 donators, giving them the opportunity to have a free, homemade meal and watch their favorite movie with Mind Fish, among other included rewards.
“We probably could’ve just, like, worked extra hours at our jobs and saved money to do what we did,” Tartaglia said. “I think we’ve spent more time on the rewards for people then we would’ve if we just tried to pick up extra hours [working], and it’s fun doing that.”
As a DIY band that records all of its music in Wayton’s basement home studio, Tropic Bombs did not want complete funding of its Kickstarter project to come solely from its fans’ pockets. Of the approximately $2,500 it will cost the band to make 1,000 hard copies of its debut album, it only asked for $1,000 of that total for its Kickstarter project in part to get the material to fans sooner.
In addition, Tropic Bombs put together a video on its Kickstarter page telling fans why it was asking for donations. Like Mind Fish, the rewards were creative and humorous. Giveaways included “wacky-ass” drawings starting with donations of $25, listing $50 donators in the “Thank You” section of the album insert and giving $100 donators an opportunity to record with the group for the chants in “I’ll See Your Ass at High Noon,” among others.
“I think for me at least, that would be such a cool thing,” Wayton said of putting fans on a song. “Not many people get to actually record music, or be on an album or hear their voice. I just think it would be a cool thing for people who are really supportive of the band to get to actually be in the song on the album.”
Thanks in part to Kickstarter and its fans, Mind Fish will be able to distribute “WATCHOUT!” at upcoming concerts, including for its Toledo CD release show at Frankie’s on Jan. 28.
“It makes you appreciate that the people you’re playing for really want to see you reach your goal as a Kickstarter [project], but ultimately whatever other goals you have,” Tartaglia said. “It kind of just makes everything more connected to the people that you’re playing to.”
Though Wayton and Tropic Bombs’ guitarist Jon Hammond have been playing music together for approximately a decade, they’ve never made a full-length album. Kickstarter and a strong local fan base have given them an opportunity to make that possible. As of press time for this article, Tropic Bombs met its $1,000 goal for its project’s Feb. 17 deadline as the band aims for a late May release of its debut record.
“The whole reason I want to be an English teacher is to connect through other people’s stories and help connect with students and just different life experiences,” Wayton said. “And I think that music and writing lyrics does the same thing, so for anybody to connect with me or us as a band in any way is just everything.
“That’s what we’re all about is connecting with the people.”
On Jan. 28, Mind Fish, GOLD, The Strong Talk and Stinky Pete & The Prospectors will perform for Mind Fish’s Toledo CD release show at Frankie’s, located at 308 Main St. The theme of the show is “90’s Nickelodeon House Party.” Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door the day of the show. Advance tickets can be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets and locally at Culture Clash Records (419-536-LOVE) and Ramalama Records (419-531-ROCK). On Mar. 3, Tropic Bombs will headline a concert that features GOLD, The Comeback and Phantom Limb Syndrome at Frankie’s. Tickets are $5 for 21 and over and $7 for those under 21. For more information, visit frankiesinnercity.com.