The Americana Music Festival and Conference officially began on the afternoon of Sept. 18 at Nashville's Downtown Sheraton Hotel with a series of panel discussions surrounding various aspects of the music business and industry. Kicking things off was an exploration of the hottest trend in music today, crowd funding.
The panel was moderated by Foundation Music Group's Wayne Leeloy and featured staff from two successful crowd funding sites, Jay Coyle from PledgeMusic and, via Skype, Jack Conte from Patreon. It also featured two artists who have successfully crowd funded albums, Nashville favorite Will Kimbrough and Ohio based act Over the Rhine's Linford Detweiler.
The discussion began with Conte putting the whole thing in perspective, reminding attendees that for thousands of years, patronage was how music was funded. The wealthy sponsored musicians and fine artists because they appreciated their art. Sites like Patreon, Kickstarter, and PledgeMusic run on the same "patronage" model, but in a way that's open to small contributions from everyone rather than just the wealthy.
Kimbrough spoke of his successful Kickstarter campaign and the importance of staggering your reward levels so anyone can contribute. He told the story of putting a guitar he had played up on many of his albums as a high end reward, only to find it quickly snatched up, which helped him reach his funding goal in less than a day.
Detweiler also spoke of Over the Rhine's success with crowd funding. The band's new album, "Meet Me at the Edge of the World", was their second successful crowd funded album. He spoke of the backer concert on their home farm that they threw for people who pledged at least $100. Detweiler stated "we'd been singing about this place for years and this gave fans a chance to see it."
Discussion of the different sites out there, with Coyle talking about PledgeMusic's unique offerings such as the ability to divert a portion of raised funds to charity and Conte talking about Patreon's focus on artists who create short content like web comics often who need a steady stream of revenue rather than the "lump sum" goal of sites like Kickstarter.
You can catch Over the Rhine performing tonight at The Rutledge, while Will Kimbrough will be performing with his band Willie Sugarcapps on Saturday at the Station Inn.