My friend Jesse Kates of Kansas City pop band The Sexy Accident is here to share a peek behind the scenes of his creative business today! The band is crowdsourcing their next album, Lavender 3, which they are releasing as a hardback book. It’s an amazing project, and I wanted to interview Jesse here to share more about Lavender 3 and to teach us a little something about crowdsourcing.
Hi Jesse! Thanks so much for sharing what you’ve learned about crowdsourcing with us today. First, can you tell us a bit about your band The Sexy Accident?
The Sexy Accident is a song–centric indie pop band from Kansas City, Missouri. Because of the fact that we have three singers and do a lot of multi-perspective duets, I describe us as “West Side Story with guitars instead of knives.” We’ve been around in one form or another for nine years, though I am the only permanent member. The sound has changed a lot over time, and will continue to do so. Currently we’re really lush and almost orchestrated, using all analog sounds (real instruments.) Over the years, we’ve recorded and released 50 songs. Our best work is produced by Seattle legend, Steve Fisk (Nirvana, Harvey Danger, The Wedding Present, Unwound, etc.) He also produced our new, forthcoming album / book, Lavender 3. You can hear everything we’ve released to date at sexyaccident.com.
Can you explain a bit about what crowdsourcing is and the benefits of crowdsourcing for creative projects?
Sometimes a creative vision requires more capital than one can quickly raise. In our case, we want to put out this book. We can totally do it on our own, but it would mean waiting another eight months or so to save all the cash. This way, the people who would buy the book anyway let us use their pre-order dollars to accelerate the entire project. Everyone gets something faster, and our contributors have the added bonus of getting their name in the book and knowing they helped make it happen. People like being a part of something.
The concept of releasing a musical album as a book is incredibly creative; how did you decide to release the album in this way over more traditional release methods such as CDs and digital downloads?
We are a pretty literary band. Our music is thoughtful, even though it also rocks. The lyrics are meticulously crafted, and they can fly over your head if you aren’t paying attention. We’re ideally suited for a real sit-down listening session: the kind of listening people used to do with LPs, and probably still do to some extent with digital music. To encourage our listeners to really sink in, we went with this book idea. It gives you a lot more to chew on while you listen – art, lyrics, detailed track notes – and it’ll all be packaged up in this glorious cloth covered coffee table book. We really wanted a physical presence for the album, which vinyl can also give you, but this book does all that without requiring you to have a turntable.
For Lavender 3, The Sexy Accident is crowdsourcing through the website Indiegogo. Why did you choose this crowdsourcing site over others?
Kickstarter seems to be dominated by tech start-ups, whereas Indiegogo is used for a lot of art projects. The audience just seemed more appropriate on Indiegogo. The capabilities between the two sites are virtually identical. Indiegogo also has lower fees. Neither of them do the work of crowd funding, though. They just give you a platform to collect the funds. You have to get the word out yourself, like we are doing here!
There are six levels of amazing perks for those helping to fund Lavender 3, everything from a pre-order of the book with the buyer’s name in it to the amazing top perk (which includes the original 12×12 acrylic painting of the albums’ cover art by artist Steph Toth Kates, a vegetarian or vegan dinner with the band at your house, ice cream or cookies made by Sexy Accident singer Camry Ivory, free admission to all Sexy Accident concerts for a year, a limited edition t-shirt, a signed copy of the book plus two copies to give to friends, and a “marquee position” of the top perk buyer’s name in the book). How did you decide on the available perks for the book and the price levels for them?
We focused on making sure none of the contribution levels would feel like charity. We are not a charity. There are much worthier causes to give money to. Instead, we’re looking at this like straight up commerce. The more you give, the more you get. The prices are set to be fair – not high, not low – just fair. For instance, that 12×12 painting would retail for $200 at one of Steph’s gallery shows. So to offer that and dinner, and ice cream, and a T-shirt, and multiple copies of the book all shipped anywhere for $300 is pretty reasonable. It’s a big chunk of change, but you get your money’s worth. The book itself is $25 shipped – a fair price considering the quality of the music, art, and the manufacturing of the book itself.
What has been the most effective marketing technique for getting the word out about Lavender 3?
We’ve been doing a lot of social media. We’ve been surprised by how effective promoting posts on our personal Facebook pages has been. The band page has been so–so, partly because of phantom profiles from click farms, which are unavoidable on Facebook. But since all the people who are friends with me, personally, are real, and many of them are interested in the band, I got a good response by reaching out to them.
What three tips do you have for those wanting to crowdsource their own creative projects?
1 – Fortune favors the bold. Do something big and people will respond to it.
2 – Really believe in what you’re doing. If you don’t, you won’t feel confident promoting your project. This relates to point 1. Your project has to be big enough to inspire you.
3 – Don’t expect the crowdfunding platform to do the work for you. It won’t. You have to raise the funds. The website just processes payments and tracks orders.
Thanks so much to Jesse for sharing his crowdsourcing insight today! I encourage you all to go check out more information of the album/book to see what all is included, because it is really freaking cool. Contribute to the crowdsourcing and pre-order your copy of Lavender 3 before it ends Friday, May 31st! You’ll still be able to purchase the pop album as a hardcover book after this date, but all of the cool perks will be long gone. I’ll be awaiting my book and t-shirt meanwhile!
Have you ever crowdsourced a project or considered crowdsourcing? Tell us about it in the comments!