DRAG have always been an independent band. Inspired by not just the music, but also the DIY ethic of the 90’s grunge and Riot Grrrl era, it is no surprise that we decided to employ this same ethos when it came to our debut album! For those of you who don’t know, Kickstarter is a ‘crowdfunding’ platform – this means that instead of approaching record labels for money, we could approach our fans directly to help us to fund the album – which means we could provide a high quality product, but keep our DIY roots and full control of our music!
Our Kickstarter Campaign page, where you can see the rewards we offered is here:
Our Kickstarter journey began in Madhat Studios in July 2013 – originally we were going in to record a third EP, but our songs had grown up and so had we – with some recent successes and a great response to our singles, we thought it was time to make this into the album that people had been requesting for YEARS…
We had watched with quite a lot of interest as artists we admired using Kickstarter to fund albums and other projects, and we saw what a successful tool it was – not just for raising money but for bringing fans closer and building a community around the project! We did a poll and asked our fans if they’d support us, and which platform they trusted – they agreed that Kickstarter was the way to go! We recorded a video whilst at the Madhat Studios to act as our campaign video.
One of the most challenging things we had to get our head round was ASKING for help – it didn’t feel good to ask people for money – even though that’s what we’d be doing if we approached a label… It was perhaps most timely that Amanda Palmer put out her TED talk around the same time on the very subject of “Asking” – it made us go for it, and you can see it here:
The other challenging thing was working out how much to ask for – in hindsight, we probably didn’t ask for enough, but we were adamant to only ask for what we NEEDED in order to get the album recorded and produced: £1,555. This included recording, packaging, CD replication, royalty payments, postage, the % cut for Kickstarter and the costs to prepare the backer rewards. (Recording costs wouldn’t be too high as we’d already paid for some of the earlier tracks ourselves).
The scary thing about Kickstarter (and many other crowdfunding platforms), is if you DON’T hit your target, you DON’T get the money, so we knew we had to get it right! Asking for too much may have made our target unreachable, but not asking for enough wouldn’t have allowed us to even make the album! Luckily, our friend Georgia got in touch to offer her advice on the matter – her band, “Bitter Ruin” had just completed a phenomenally successful Kickstarter Campaign, hitting their target of £20,000 in less than 24 hours! We were in good hands! She offered us advice and guidance about everything from setting up the campaign, to promoting the launch, through to pep talks and plenty of ‘good luck’ messages when we needed them! We are eternally grateful for her mentoring, and we will continue to offer to pay this forward to any other band who is thinking about doing this same thing too!
In the run up to the campaign launching, we promoted the hell out of it, we did radio interviews, we had features in local newspapers, on online blogs and all over the international internet radio. Anyone who has ever worked with DRAG was asked to help spread the word ready for the big launch on 1st August! One of the things we pride ourselves on in this industry is our reputation – we are so focused on coming across professionally, and it seems to have worked, as lots and lots of people got behind us because they believed in the band and in what we were trying to achieve. In just 35 days, it was done...
We offered a range of rewards to backers – everything from a THANK YOU mention in the album credits, to private tuition and our own personal belongings! Here are Velma’s prized gloves, that she wore at nearly every gig, and in the Jack’s Song music video – all packaged up and ready to be sent out to an awesome backer called “Will” :D
The Kickstarter Campaign finished on 5th September 2013, successfully funded with a final total of £1,873 of our £1,555 goal! We were going to make an ALBUM! And not just that – we were going to be able to make it even more awesome because of the extra money that was pledged over our target!
Once you set a goal for the completion of your project, it is good practice to stick to it – we were really disappointed when our studio of choice was fully booked so that we had to push the recording back, and subsequently the album deadline back… This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as Si announced his shock departure from the band in November! With recording booked in early January, the panic set in! Surrounded by messages of support, we pushed on and tried not to let it ruin the celebration that was Our Album… Andy (a long time friend of Matt’s) stepped in as a session musician, and learnt the tracks in record time! He even helped to write brand new drum parts for the new songs – one of which we completed just four days before recording!
The four of us had an absolute blast at the studio, with the tracks sounding fantastic! It turned out to be a great bonding session, and we were so pleased when Andy agreed to join the band as our new permanent drummer!
We spent the next few days finalising the album artwork ready to order the packaging and the physical CDs. This is what it looks like:
The artwork for the front of the album is by Shelley Swain – we fell in love with the piece, and she agreed to sell it to us. We were ecstatic when she gave us permission to use it for our album and in association with DRAG in general! It also appears on the backer-only t-shirts and on our new badges! You can check out Shelley’s artwork HERE. Please do take a look at her store too and support her by treating yourself to a print or two – she’s an independent artist like us!
Ordering all of the album parts, posters, tshirts and Cd’s etc was SO MUCH FUN! Heather and Velma lost an entire room of their house to boxes of ‘stuff’! But every single thing that arrived looking all professional and awesome meant we were one step closer to the finished article!
As the original target had been exceeded, we wanted to make the album extra special – we were able to add more to the physical packaging and go for a more expensive digipak style – MORE PICTURES!
We also threw a party for the backers so that they could come and see the album performed for the first time live in public – from start to finish! It was insane! We chose the venue “Scruffy Murphy’s” as it was where Velma and Heather had played their first ever gig fronting DRAG together around eight years ago – so it was fitting that we should make a triumphant return with our first album of songs to a packed house!
Now, seven months after we embarked on the Kickstarter journey we start another long haul of promoting the newly-finished album ready for its public release on 5th May 2014. We have been independently contacting reviewers, bloggers, printed press, radio and everyone else to try and get the album the exposure we think it deserves – we’ll post up reviews as they come in, but here’s the FIRST REVIEW already.
This album was made possible by these awesome people who backed us on Kickstarter:
Georgia - “Our Kickstarter Mentor” - your encouragement, support and advice means more than you will ever know! MAS Artist Development Programme – for funding part of this recording, and supporting us through our creative process this year. Mark Stuart and Sheena ‘Sheenius’ Sear at M2 Madhat Studios – your artistic knowledge, patience and encouragement have brought our music alive! Sanctuary Dudley for helping us with our recording and plans. Our partners, friends and families for their love and support, and for putting up with the late nights and the noise! Zak Marsh - our Merch Bitch and confidant! Andy ‘Wayland’ Pilkington at Manicks Productions - our official photographer! Shelley Swain for the kind use of her amazing artwork!