San Francisco indie songstress Lia Rose just stepped out of the studio and is in debt—not to the bank or a label contract, but to the support of 105 fans and friends. Rose’s debut solo album, When You Need Me Most, was funded with the assistance of Kickstarter.com, a pledge-based platform that allows individuals to raise money for their latest creative projects. Rose’s approach included a video explanation of her project and a timeline of three months to raise her $10,000 goal. To generate excitement for the project, crowdfunders of Rose’s project received perks, from pre-release digital downloads for minimum donations, to “get into any show for free” cards, even living room concerts to those who contributed more. (She is halfway through knitting a scarf for a $700 “angel donor” from France.)
The Kickstarter concept does not come without its challenges. If Rose did not reach her goal within her three-month specified timeframe, the money would return to her donors. Rose was also cautious not to spam her network. She planned a carefullytimed campaign—one big push in the beginning to her email lists and Facebook page, another request halfway through the project, and a last appeal before the deadline. The strategy worked: The Kickstarter link spread organically through Rose’s network, and she was able to record what she describes as “the album of her dreams.”
Rose recorded at the Hangar in Sacramento, with engineering and mixing by Robert Cheek (Deftones) and mastering by TW Walsh (Sufjan Stevens, Ra Ra Riot). She describes the Hangar as “entering a musical playground filled with vintage gear.” The studio also boasts custom equipment, including house engineer Bryce Gonzalez’s BG #1 and BG #2 compressors, which were used generously throughout the recording process, along with new equipment such as the Retro 2A3 Dual Program EQ.
All instruments were recorded using natural reverb to invite a close, “in the room” effect. To keep the vocals dry, Cheek experimented with the Telefunken 251, but inevitably went with the Wunder C12 to bring out Rose’s sparse, warm phrasing. Cheek and Gonzalez tracked to tape to get what Rose describes as that “analog goodness.” “The word I would use to describe Robert Cheek is ‘efficient,’” she says. “His process was extremely dialed-in; he knew exactly what he wanted to hear, and how he could get that sound.”
Rose got what she wanted to hear as well, leaving the eight-day studio session confident with the project Kickstarter helped her create. “Once I knew I had the support of my Kickstarter community, once I realized people wanted to hear what I was creating, I just relaxed right into the process,” she says. “I already knew there was a demand—that there was an audience that was willing to pay for it before it was created. I can’t even describe what it feels like to have that kind of support.”
Want more? See Lia Rose's Kickstarter page HERE.