My new record To Hell With You is the fifth full-length recording I’m releasing under the name Bleu, and having been around the block a few times now, I’d love to share some of my experiences with you.
This new record is now my second successful direct-to-fan launched CD release, this time through the platform PledgeMusic. My first experience was back in 2010 on Kickstarter, right before fan-funding really caught on as a new model for indie musicians. My Kickstarter campaign felt like I was careening into the unknown because I had no idea if anyone would be interested in supporting my record in this new way. The whole experience ended up being incredible though. I hit my goal in just one day and made it to almost 500% in the end. Through the Kickstarter “rewards” I was able to make meaningful direct connections with people who love my music, and with their tremendous support, I was able to tour, hire PR and put my record out with a distribution deal through Redeye.
My decision to use PledgeMusic for my second fan-funded release was purely one of experimentation and exploration (there are many reasons to use Pledge vs. Kickstarter or vice-versa and I highly suggest you do a lot of research on both – look at other people’s projects – and make an educated choice for yourself – both platforms have a lot to offer).
Since I now fully embrace my independent artist status, and these new models are becoming more and more the norm – I’m working on the theory that there are no rules now when it comes to putting out an album. So, that’s the approach I am currently taking with To Hell With You and PledgeMusic.
Probably the most experimental tactic I’m taking this time around is trying to get the biggest bang for my buck by stretching out the fan-funding campaign, and then the larger release of my record. I wanted to create a scenario that could help produce a longer shelf-life for my release, and this was one of my reasons for working with Pledge, they could allow me to promote/fund my album over a longer period of time (thus being able to get the word out to more people). I was very lucky again, and hit my goal within 8 hours – I launched my Pledge in November 2012, but unlike my last campaign I am still actively open for pledges months later (although this IS coming to an end soon). By having a longer fan-funding campaign, I have been able to utilize social media (and Pledge’s social media tie-ins), numerous updates (some of which include brand-new-music, etc), my own email list, securing some press, and even releasing a music video – to help promote and continue to find support for To Hell With You. So far, this seems to be paying off – as I have indeed had more people support this campaign than my last one – and, we’ve been able to attract a lot of new people this time around.
Now, starting today, I am taking the PledgeMusic experience on the road and hitting nine east coast cities to play shows with other like-minded artists who have also been successful with fan-funding through Pledge. This is sort-of my “PledgeMusic CD release tour.” I anticipate seeing a lot of people at the shows who have Pledged, and as of this week, all of their CD & T-Shirt packages have been mailed to them. So this tour is for them (and other fans of-course), but Pledgers have the CD first and now this is truly the start of To Hell With You being released to the public (the CD will be available at my shows). Also, I’m hoping that the tour will help spur some new interest (and possibly some new Pledgers) – yet another possible advantage of a longer-campaign.
My core fan base is now mobilized and hopefully excited that they have the music before everyone else. They are where the buzz starts for me. With their support and enthusiasm, as well as PledgeMusic sponsoring and promoting my tour, the whole package is starting to come together for the larger public record-release in January 2014.
I am definitely using some of the traditional tools to help promote To Hell With You, but by stretching out the process, and utilizing the fan-funded budget to promote my record, I’m hopefully cutting through the din a little bit more by taking as many stabs as possible at getting to new and old fans. Possibly even a few people who read this blog?
Bleu starts the PledgeMusic Presents Tour on Wed, Sept 11. The shows surround the release of Bleu’s upcoming album, To Hell With You. The album won’t be available to the general public until early 2014, but is out now exclusively through PledgeMusic.
Bleu Tour Dates
Sept 11 – Portsmouth, NH – The Press Room
Sept 12 – Philadelphia, PA – World Café Live
Sept 13 – Pittsburgh, PA – Club Café
Sept 14 – Columbus, OH – Bethel Road Pub
Sept 15 – Nashville, TN – 12th & Porter
Sept 16 – Annapolis, MD – Ramshead on Stage
Sept 17 – Vienna, VA – Jammin’ Java
Sept 18 – New York, NY – The Bowery Electric
Sept 19 – Allston, MA – Brighton Music Hall