Two weeks after launching its mission to raise $250,000 (£152,500) to finance its latest record, hip hop pioneers Public Enemy have hit the $50,000 (£30,500) mark through Amsterdam-based site Sellaband.com.
More than 700 people in 50 countries donated to the cause, making it the site’s fastest fund-raising effort to date, and it puts Chuck D and crew on course to make their full target by the New Year.
Public Enemy aren’t the first act to ask fans to directly fund new material: prog rock survivors Marillion convinced their cult following to part with £360,000 to fund an album in March last year while Scottish rockers Idlewild offered fans to chance to get their new album first and see the band perform it live for £15. Other fan-funding services include Slicethepie and Bandstocks.
Fan-funding clearly works for established acts with thousands of fans, but it’s hard to see how it would benefit new artists — the above bands have each been around for many years, meaning their followers are no longer teenyboppers but adults who can afford to pay above the odds to help out their heroes.
And in any case, despite their talent, bands like Idlewild only now have a committed following now because the music industry once invested in organising tours, publicity, MTV and radio airplay. As the music industry is continually squeezed by lower profits from the decline in physical consumption, will any acts launching today even have enough of a loyal audience to support them in 10 or 20 years’ time?