One of my very favorite recent shifts in the music industry is the use of crowd-funding projects. If you don’t know what that is: Anyone can use a website like kickstarter.com or indiegogo.com to ask for financial support for an upcoming project. Their fans can collectively pool their money together to fund the project, and they can receive perks and prizes based on their contribution amount. In the music world, this takes power away from big time record labels (who are not exactly always known for their integrity) and puts into the hands of the artist, and ultimately, the fans. If your favorite band leaves their label and can’t afford to tour or make a new album, you can help them in a way that makes sure your money and support directly goes to them.
It sounds perfect, but there has been a lot of controversy surrounding them. Many popular celebrities and artists have had successful crowd funding campaigns, which a lot of people aren’t okay with. Crowd funding was started in a grass-roots way, to help the little guy and there’s been a lot of backlash over mega-popular people using crowd funding instead of their own money, or using their connections to gain support. I’ve seen the Zach Braff and Amanda Palmer campaigns get debated to death, and even though I researched both thoroughly, I still don’t really know how I feel about it.
Enter The Coppertone. She’s a Toronto artist that is currently asking for 20k to buy out her record contract and the rights to her music. Long story short, she left her record company and until she pays them this money they own her songs and she can’t put out any new material. When I first read her story, a part of me became instantly judgemental. Because it’s easy to think that someone in her position should be lucky to have any contract, and part of me wanted to spout some platitude about finishing what you started. Its always easy to criticize people before thinking of what it would be like to be in their shoes. So instead, I tried to do just that. As a writer, I know that the most direct extension of who I am is the work I do. I know I would feel incredibly helpless if someone told me that I didn’t own what I made with my heart and soul. I’ve dealt twice now with work of mine being published under someone elses name, and it was such a violation of who I am and what I stand for, so I can imagine how horrible what she is going through must feel.
All of this thought process occurred before I hit the play button to hear her songs, which I should have done in the first place. Listen here, this girl is great, and she deserves another shot. She’s got a sexy, smoky voice that makes me long for an old Dusty Springfield LP and the open road. This song is begging to be played at top volume down some back road, and that’s exactly what I did with it this weekend. I haven’t loved a song like this in a while. The lyrics point to someone starting over, and beyond this song, she has created a whole movement called ‘Claim Yourself‘ that hopes to inspire people to live authentically within their own lives.
That is something I can get behind, and it’s why The Coppertone is getting this weeks column, my support, and my money. It’s easy to sugarcoat and take the lazy way out, but it takes guts to admit you made a mistake, to stand up for your music and yourself. May Sarton said “We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.” The Coppertone’s campaign and song personifies that and that’s something we should try and emulate in our own lives, not judge. So here’s what I want you to do: Throw a couple bucks her way and get your copy of this amazing single called ‘Young Blood’. Take that song to your car, roll those windows down, sing your heart out and remember to always, always live authentic.