When country rock band The Divorcees launched their latest album Four Chapters at the East Coast Music Awards in their home town of Moncton this month, one partner they could have thanked was the crowdfunding site Kickstarter.
The band, which had previously won ECMAs, used the site to raise about $9,500, which they needed to complete the album. After they finished touring last summer, they realized they hadn’t quite made enough money for their next project and then they heard about the crowdfunding site. It ended up helping them.
“We’re really proud of the album and we were happy to get it out for the ECMAs,” said frontman Denis Arsenault in an interview. “And without Kickstarter it wouldn’t have happened.”
Crowdfunding is still in its embryonic stage in the business community – just a gleam in the regulator’s eye. But artists, including a few in Atlantic Canada are already using it to raise money for their projects.
Kickstarter allows various groups including artists to raise money in return for a reward. The Divorcees set out to raise about $8,500, offering people who contributed a range of awards, beginning with an autographed album for a pledge of as little as $25. One person pledged $1,000 or more, which granted him a personalized thank you, his own concert and a “lifetime `Dirtbag VIP’ FREE ADMISSION card” for any show the band plays.
According to Kickstarter, the Divorcees are the only New Brunswick artists to have used the site to raise money. Four Halifax projects have received funding – albums by Abby Braithwaite and Norma MacDonald; the stage play Family in Church by Pascale Roger-McKeever; and the documentary Better Living through Chemicals by Conceptafilm, which raised $15,091.
As it stands now, artists are one of the few groups who can use crowdfunding in Canada. Though rules vary in the US, and there are all kinds of grey areas, startups looking for money still have to rely on friends and family rather than a vast range of strangers.
Jeff Thompson, in his column earlier this month, called for provincial regulators to take a hard look at crowdfunding. Certainly the U.S. is getting closer to allowing crowdfunding (A law allowing it has passed the House and will move to the Senate this year.). I assume Ontario regulators will watch what happens in the U.S. and if it is successful will propose legislation, which the other provinces would follow in time. Which I guess means that for the foreseeable future, artists like the Divorcees will be the main adopters in Atlantic Canada of this source of funding.