Veteran singer/songwriter Jill Sobule has finally released her new album, bringing to conclusion one of the most unusual recording processes any album in recent history. Rather than teaming with a record company — major or indie — Sobule financed the recording and promotion of her record by asking for fans to cough up some money upfront.
Sobule raised $75,000 online through the web site jillsnextrecord between January and March 2008. The result of the online fundraising: California Years.
Sobule's business plan allowed fans to pledge varying amounts of money and in return for their sponsorship were rewarded with different levels of bonus goodness. Fans contributed anywhere between $10 and $10,000. The $10,000 contributor actually got to sing with Sobule on the record.
In the days of my youth, I remember looking forward to the release of a new album from a favorite artist or the hope that someone new would come out with something that would blow my mind. I don't remember every new album being released with a "business plan." I'm not naive. I know commerce was always a consideration, but up until the music industry completely lost its mind and technology evolved, the business plan stayed hidden and the music was pushed out front. The times, they are a-changing.
Sobule has now said she's looking for ways to pass on what she learned to other artists who might be interested in following suit.
Here is the complete tracklisting to California Years:
"Nothing to Prove"
"Where Is Bobbie Gentry?"
"A Good Life"
"League of Failures"
"While You Were Sleeping"
"The Donor Song"