When you're starting out as a band, you have a daunting task ahead of you. You have a bootstrap problem. People need to listen to your music to know that it's great, but they also need to already know that it's great in order to pick you out from among the tens of thousands of other bands. Traditionally this is where a record label would step in. They have the capital to combine with your talent. They are prepared to invest hundreds of thousands - to recoup millions, of course - and catapult you to stardom on the way.
For many bands without their own capital, which is, sadly, the usual state of affairs as those investing their time earning money have less time to spend on music, this has often been the only route to creating a high quality album. You have to spend the money making the album before you can sell it and recoup the costs.
Well no longer! Tech startup Pledge Music (www.pledgemusic.com) allows you to sell your album _before_ you make it. You can put up a song or two, explain about the band and put a price on what the album would cost if you were to get enough support to be able to make it. You can set this limit yourself and when fans sign up to buy the album, they are only charged when the total money "pledged" reaches the limit that you set.
One of the nice touches about Pledge Music is the fact that in addition to just selling a digital album, you can also configure a range of extra options for hardcore fans. For a lot of bands, it's these options, rather than the basic ticket price, that generate most of their revenue. Extras I've seen include a physical copy (CD or vinyl), your name in the liner notes, album themed t-shirts and jewellery and even private gigs in your own house!
The poster boy for the Pledge process is Ginger Wildheart, most famously of 90s rock band the Wildhearts but with many other credits to his name. His first album 555% (named after the % of the Pledge target reached the day of release) was such a success that he has carried straight on with a further two pledge projects (currently live at http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/gingerwildheartmutation). Brit-pop Jackdaw 4 have just closed their campaign on a whopping 366% and I've personally pledged for Roberta di Francia, a beautiful singer-songwriter and favourite of my new music Shoreditch Radio show.
If you're a band looking for a new audience, or a music-lover who wants to support the best in new music, get over to www.pledgemusic.com and put your money where your mouth is.