Top 11 Rock Crowdfunders

Do you really need a big record label these days?

Ultimate Guitar

As a fairly new concept, crowdfunding is very much thriving at the moment as a fresh method for bands to get financial support for the release and distribution of their music. It also makes artists less dependent of labels, further allowing full creative freedom. We'll make a rundown of some of the most successful rock and metal crowdfunders, along with a big question - do you really need a big record label these days?

Threat Signal Crowdfund Tour Expenses

Canadian melodic death metallers Threat Signal have successfully crowdfunded tour expenses of this year's global trek with Chimaira, gathering a total of just over $15,000. The band offered some neat goodies for bigger financial supporters, bagging some of them VIP passes, singing lessons from vocalist Jon Howard and even a full album recording at Howard's studio.

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Capture the Crown Crowdfund EP Release

Australian metalcore act Capture The Crown successfully managed to reach their $10,000 crowdfunder goal for the release of a new EP, almost doubling the amount for a total of about $17,500. Some of the cool perks included handwritten lyrics, custom vests and even a custom tattoo on singer Jeffrey Wellfare's body, who ultimately tattooed names or faces three biggest supporters within a tattoo cartoon.

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Conquering Dystopia Crowdfund Album

Consisting of former Nevermore guitar virtuoso Jeff Loomis, guitarist Keith Merrow, Cannibal Corpse bassist Alex Webster and drummer Alex Rudinger of The Faceless, Conquering Dystopia easily reached the double amount of their $15,000 crowdfunder goal, ultimately fetching over $35,000 through online donations. The biggest financial supporters ended up with private guitar lessons, guest appearances from Jeff Loomis, custom songs and even guitars used during recording sessions. Speaking of Conquering Dystopia, producer Mark Lewis (DevilDriver, Whitechapel) confirmed earlier this week (December 10) that the guys have officially hit the studio, so stay tuned for more.

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Cradle of Filth Crowdfund Adult Graphic Novel

As one of the bigger bands on the list, extreme metal veterans Cradle Of Filth used crowdfunding for a bit more different purpose - to unveil their "The Curse of Venus Aversa" adult graphic novel. Doubling the desired $20,000 figure, the band received nearly $43,000, giving some of the top supporters an exclusive appearance as on of the novel's characters.

Chimaira Crowdfund "Crown of Phantom" Fan Edition Release

In their desire to give fans something more, US metallers Chimaira have crowdfunded an exclusive fan edition release of their "Crown of Phantoms" record. $30,000 goal was easily doubled, whereas some of the top backers earned their spot in one of the band's video and even a chance to perform live with Chimaira in their local area.

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Obituary Crowdfund New Album

Death metal icons Obituary were in for quite a surprise when their surpassed their $10,000 crowdfunder goal six times. Reaching the given goal within 24 hours, the band secured cool gifts for the top supporters, giving away some of the equipment used in the process and letting fans hang out with the band in the studio, along with an exclusive executive producer title.

Universal Crowdfund Rare Vinyls Production

Proving that not only bands opt for the crowdfuning solution, one of the world's biggest labels and the member of the so called Big Three - Universal Records have announced a crowdfunding effort to support the re-release of rare out-of-print efforts. As CMU reports, the given records also include digital versions and come with "personalized art prints."

Steel Panther Crowdfund "All You Can Eat" Album

Glam rockers Steel Panther took less than five days to reach the crowdfunding goal for their upcoming album "All You Can Eat." The desired sum wasn't revealed, but the album's now definitely coming, so stick around to see what the Panther boys have in store for us.

Sevendust Crowdfund Acoustic Album

Within mere four days, Sevendust have successfully wrapped up their acoustic album crowdfunder, reaching an undisclosed sum on November 26. As reported, 97% goal was fetched within the first 72 hours. Expressing their humane side, the band decided to give 5% of any money raised to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Austrian Death Machine Crowdfund New Record

Before his murder solicitation arrest and trial, As I Lay Dying singer Tim Lambesis managed to successfully crowdfund his Austrian Death Machine side project, crossing the $63,000 goal by just over $15,000. Three of the supporters earned a one-moth personal training from Lambesis, while no one had claimed the top perk - a tattoo of your name on Tim's butt, along with a celebration dinner afterwards.

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Protest The Hero Crowdfund "Volition" Album

Showing how it's really done, Protest The Hero have received over $340,000 in support of their new album "Volition," almost three times the desired $125,000 crowdfund amount. As you might already know, the album was released on October 29, receiving universal praise from fans and critics. It's even ranked among top contestants for UG's Album of the Year title.

But of course, not all crowdfunders turn out to be a success. The Kinks frontman Dave Davis, the man behind such timeless rock classics as "You Really Got Me," "Lola" and "Waterloo Sunset" failed to crowdfund his "Rock N' Roll Journey" film, reaching merely under $9,000 of $30,000 goal. Furthermore, LA synthrockers Orgy fell over $91,000 short of their $100,000 goal to crowdfund a new album, earning decent amount of ridicule from the metal crowd. So wrapping it all up, let's get back to the big question - do bands really need major record labels these days, and to which extent do you think crowdfunding can replace the old ways? Share your thoughts in the comments.

18 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Sure, you might not need a major record label, but they need what the record label requires from them in order to sign them: a fan-base.
    Danjo's Guitar
    Honestly, big name people crowdfunding defeats the whole point of crowd funding. The whole idea is so that people who don't have the business connections can still raise money.
    link no1
    earned a one-moth personal training from Lambesis
    Never seen a moth hit the gym before.
    Where is Marillion? Arguably the band who invented the whole crowdfunding thing. Check this TedX video with their keyboard player about the birth of crowdfunding The birth of crowdfunding: Mark Kelly at TEDxBedford
    Great band. And good question.
    Quick question, why does a band need 125k to record an album? Did the last 50 years of recording innovations not happen, or are they just being ignored. Going to record an album in a music studio is like going to a fast food restaurant to order food. You could make it yourself, and even though it might taste worse it'll be better for you, made specifically for your tastes and in the long run help you to be more independent. However, you go to a fast food restaurant because it's easier, it tastes better (because it's made to accommodate everyone else's tastes), it's more expensive and in the long run makes you less independent. It could be argued that the band needs the money for promotion and for distribution. But, that also raises the question of "But what about the internet, the thing that most people have been using to promote and distribute their music for close to ten years? What about that thing we're using right now, as-of-this-moment to promote ourselves with this campaign? How bout we use this 'internet' thing to distribute our music, and use the fan-base we already have to promote our music instead of begging them for money?" Honestly, this whole thing seems like a monumental step backwards.
    Honestly, It sounds like you don't know a whole lot about this "recording" thing. What a class-A studio has, is first and foremost, a crazy good room. Good luck building that on your own with 125k. Then recording gear for way over 125k too. And finally, a good engineer. IMO, it would be of a disservice to music, if all musicians had to learn how to be good engineers. It would take their mind off music, just to learn something they could pay someone else to do. And a musician doing it full time, together with a full-time engineer, would probably get better results on average, than one person doing both.
    Saying that musicians shouldn't purchase recording equipment and learn how to produce their own music is a little bit silly. If a musician has already taken the time to learn how to play their instrument, has already spent the necessary money to purchase quality equipment, and is about to spent time and money to go into a studio and produce their music then it makes sense that they could learn how to produce themselves, and to purchase equipment so that they can produce their own music. It's like how some artists on deviant art can only produce line-art while some artists can only colour line-art. Both of these artists could be able to do both if they took the time to learn how to do both, but they believe that it's easier to get someone else to do what they can't do. As for your comment about better results, yes you will suck at producing/recording when you first start out. But you will improve if you keep learning new things about recording/mixing and you will get better. Remember how much you sucked when you first picked up your guitar? Also, learning how to produce would definitely not take your mind off music. Look at David Gilmour, when he learned how to produce/record he started thinking in terms of music and sound (if that makes sense) and started to record his solos differently (Comfortably numb, Money, Time) and started to utilize unique sounds in his music (The intro for Time). As Justin Broadrick said "It's better to mix your album yourself, than spend the rest of your life complaining about how someone else mixed your album."
    It's not that they shouldn't learn the process of recording, which is helpful, and can bring new ideas. It's that the process of learning to record and mix music on a world-class level, is something that will take many many years to learn, if you do. To insist that that doesn't take the mind of making music is ignorant of how much time learning to record professionally takes.
    The reality is that nine times out of ten you don't need to have all the expensive equipment, all the professional software/hardware necessary and all the years of experience needed to make a good-sounding album. All you need are microphones that capture the sound of your instrument(s), a mixing-program that allows every instrument to be mixed in such a way that every instrument (or just the instruments you want to highlight) are clearly heard in the mix, and a certain amount of education. All the equalization/effects/sampling of modern production exists only to make your recordings sound better. Yes, I understand that having a professional audio engineer produce your album will make it sound better. What I have difficulty comprehending is why a band/artist should have to pay thousands of dollars to record with a professional producer when for the same amount of money they could purchase some recording equipment, invest the time to learn how to record/mix their songs and theoretically never have to enter another studio for the rest of their musical career. Look at any site that allows users to create their own songs and share them. Millions of people all over the world are recording/mixing in their basements and a lot of them (not all, but quite a few) are producing studio-quality recordings at minimal-cost.
    You're basically discounting the 10, 20, 30 years of experience those recording engineers/mix engineers/mastering engineers (who are also often used as full-on or semi "producers" that help make decisions that will make your album sound better) have, and implying that every band has the time, skill, or desire to work on this aspect of their music.And I'm sorry to say but the difference between huge productions and home recordings is 99.5 percent of the time, blatantly obvious to me. If you don't mind the tone of an Axe Fx, fake cymbals, shitty plugin reverbs, and you're willing to put in massive amounts of wasted time to learn the ropes of recording the hard way (trial and error is generally a huge part of most band's self-production) then power to you, it'll cost you less in the end.I'll tell you one thing though, I do believe some things are easy to accomplish on your own now. For metal, for example, recording the guitars, bass, and vocals, can be done if you buy the computer/daw/vocal microphone/di box, build a vocal booth, and learn how to edit efficiently and properly and have a clean, organized workflow. This is definitely something that technology allows for, but after that, re-amping, drum recording, mixing, and mastering, all benefits from the ear and experience of someone who spends day in, day out, doing those things, and have the proper rooms/listening gear for these things!Let's not forget that the common examples that people use for self production are often not common at all - they happen to be bands that self produce who have someone who is heavily invested and interested in recording in the first place, and who is both talented at it, and experienced in some way. Periphery, Meshuggah, both common examples, both sound very digital though and imo could sound better, especially meshuggah with professional mastering - Devin Townsend, who has been working on recording for a long long time, has big studio access and gear, and invests massive amounts of time working on this aspect of his work.Porcupine tree and steven wilson, this guy self produced a **** ton of albums though and didn't achieve the sound of his recent albums on his first go!Adam D worked at the Zing studio before even recording his first album there and had access to a great studio and room to record in to make his albums, so he wad gear at his disposal, a room, and the experience of those who already worked there.DIY has its uses, and people need to learn to properly manage what they can do on their own and be properly prepared for the studio time they put in, to avoid wasting time and money - but writing off professionals in sound design as a waste of money is underestimating the value (and cost!) of their experience/gear/facilities.I've yet to hear a "home recording" that sounds anywhere near the audio quality of something like Dream Theater's Black Clouds and Silver Linings from a home recording.
    Both you and jebbe make a valid point. Self production is only done right if your mindset isn't just to record your band, cause you'll end up with a crap product. Real production by experienced producers with top of the line gear in studios that are literally decked out to do nothing but record sounds (with an ample amount of money invested into them just to make every little detail perfect - kind of like building an engine, every little tiny bit of everything will determine how it will perform overall) costs $$$$. Local acts can fork out anywhere between 1000-4000 just to record an above-garage quality ep, with plenty of room for improvement. The reason for that is all on the producers and master-ers. I`ve been in the studio a few times to record and you can bet your a** that not only is it expensive af to record anything of high-quality, but if you`re just a musician going in with no knowledge or experience (I`m talking actual production knowledge, not "I can play through my amp into my computer" knowledge) then you will be chewed up and spat out by whomever you're recording with $$$-wise; it's too easy. When big shot bands go in to their big shot studios, they're experienced in knowing how to prepare and spend the least amount of time recording the most amount of music, but it isn't until the producers and such do their thing and fork it out of you, especially if you're in the state-of-the-art studios with the next Rick Rubin wannabes. Bands with actual knowledge can go ahead and record their own stuff and use actual producers to their advantage and seriously drill through top notch production at a minimum cost. There's so many variables in this game, but in the end, it all comes down to the guy in the chair controlling the studio - he will make sure if you're walking in with 90k in your pocket, his will be filled with 100k, along with another 10k in the pockets of anyone who might be mastering his tracks that he recorded based off the band. All in all, it's a major ripoff nowadays to produce music professionally, and unless you know what you're doing to a percentage as what your producers doing, you're gonna pay big bucks
    Question; Have you ever played a gig and had a bandmate engineering from the stage? Meaning they are in control of everyone's mikes levels and eq's to THEIR liking, which may sound a $#!tload different toward the middle or back of a hall than it does from their stage monitor. I have done this for the bands I've been in, and even WITH my background and training as an audio engineer, it's still can sound "off". I never minded doing it to help my band, but if I were doing it for someone else I gotta tell 'ya, I don't work free, or cheap.
    The crowdfunding for the "Extreme Metal" lost episode of Metal Evolution was cool.
    "Crowdfund, crowdfund, crowdfund, crowdfund".Using the word in every title seemed a bit redundant.