May 142013

Last night, Monday, May 13, 2013, at 11:59 p.m., Pacific Daylight Time, the crowd-funding campaign of Misery Signals — which they launched to help pay for the recoding of a new album — officially came to an end. Do you know how much money they raised? I’m not gonna make you guess. They raised $104,295. Let me repeat that: They raised

One Hundred Four Thousand Two Hundred Ninety-Five Dollars!!!

I shit you not.

They started the campaign on April 3, with a goal of $50,000. A pretty ambitious goal, one would think. Yet in less than 24 hours they had received pledges that exceeded half of that amount. On April 9 they met the $50,000 goal. In six fucking days.

But the campaign deadline was May 13, so they just let it keep going. You’d think people would have stopped contributing once the goal was met. Obviously not. Misery SIgnals doubled their money over the last month. Hell, I was watching the money counter at indiegogo last night and people were still contributing thousands of dollars more in the last few hours of the campaign.

How the hell did they pull this off? I’m so fucking glad you asked.

You might think it was because Misery Signals are based in one of the biggest cities in the United State, with a local fan base so large and so committed that they’d give blood instead of money if corpuscles had been requested. Nope. They’re based in Milwaukee. As in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, population 600,000.

Well then, maybe it was because they’ve been pumping out albums so fast and furious that their fans have been slobbering and sweating like junkies anxious to get their next fix without delay. Uh, nope. Misery SIgnals’ last album (Controller) came out in 2008. As in five years ago. In 2010 two of the band’s founding members, guitarist Stu Ross and bass-player Kyle Johnson, left the band, and Misery Signals’ future looked questionable despite protests to the contrary.

Okay, well you might be thinking that their music is so cutting edge, so out on the uncharted frontiers of metal that they’ve sparked the imagination of thousands waiting for the next big thing. Um, not exactly. In the pithy summing up of a Lambgoat article from 2010, “Post-hardcore act Misery Signals blend math rock tropes like tricky time signature shifts and twiddy guitar parts with strained aggression and sore throat vocals of screamo”, and it doesn’t look like the band plan any kind of dramatic departure from that sound on the new album. Who knew metalcore was still a thing?

Okie dokie, then it has to be the perks they offered for donations. That’s the way these crowd-funding things work. You’re basically selling things that don’t exist yet. People pledge money, and then when the idea becomes a reality, the contributors get something back, something more than the sheer selfless pleasure of helping their beloved band continue to live the dream.

So what kind of reasonably priced goodies did Misery Signals offer to induce this massive outpouring of cash?

Well, they offered a guitar that will be used in the recording of the album. Autographed, “if requested”. With a photo of the guitar actually being played by Misery Signals’ guitarists. It’s an ESP Deluxe Series LTD Eclipse Guitar, presumably used, which seems to retail new for about $800.  They offered it for $2000.

There may be some other details about that offer on indigogo, but I can’t tell you what the fuck they are because the details are obscured by a big SOLD OUT label on that offer.

You know what the next priciest item was? The chance for you, the contributor, to have your voice heard on the album by contributing to gang vocals at one of two recording sessions — in either Connecticut or California. The price? $350 — and you pay for your own travel. They sold six of those babies.

I could go on, but I won’t. You can see the other prizes and how many they sold by going here.

Now you might well ask yourself, what are these dudes going to do with all that fuckin’ money? I know what you’re thinking: hookers and blow for everyone, seven days a week and twice on Saturday’s. Nope.

When the band started the campaign, they put this verbiage on their indiegogo page:

Your pledges are going directly into the quality and reach of the album itself. They allow us the means to book time at studios we revere, travel to those locations, carefully record, mix and master the album in an effort to capture and articulate it in the best way that we can. This is an important album to us and we sincerely and passionately want to make the final outcome reflect that. Beyond that, your funding will allow us to manufacture physical copies so that we can continue to tour, distribute, promote, and spread the music to as many people as possible.  ‪This isn’t a glamorous lifestyle and we don’t plan on personally keeping any of the money raised – it is all going into making the band function again and toward making this the best album that we can create.

Then, when the band reached their goal a month ago, they added some FAQs to their indiegogo page, including this question and answer:

6. What are you going to do with additional money beyond the $50,000 goal?

The contributions above $50K do not go into our pockets. We’re putting all additional money into promotion for the album. We know damn well that this money came from supporters of the music, and we want to give back to all of you and further the reach of the album. Demand appears to still be high, and we are brainstorming ways to add content that supporters will be stoked about.

Speaking only for myself, I’d be stoked about getting my CD with gold plating on the outside. Plus hookers and blow.

I’m thinking that Misery Signals ought to change their name right now. Because when “Misery Signals” books studio time, it might suddenly cost an arm and a leg. When “Misery Signals” tries to book a non-refundable coach ticket to wherever they’re recording, the airlines might suddenly double the fare. “Misery Signals” might get a price for the cost of manufacturing physical copies of the music that will make their bungholes sore. “Misery Signals” may suddenly discover a horde of new friends they never knew they had. And expectations for the new album by “Misery Signals” are going to be pretty fucking high (no pressure dudes!).

So yeah, they need to work on a new name, and fast.

Meanwhile, Misery Index need to keep their name just as it is and start an indiegogo campaign. Maybe lightning will strike twice. Though at this point I feel compelled to add the kind of warning that appears on things like weight-loss supplements: “Your results may vary”.

But seriously, congratulations to Misery Signals on a jaw-dropping show of support from their fans.





  1. One of the few bands that makes metalcore listenable. Props to their achievement.

  2. It seems like people really dig this kind of thing. I backed this one myself, and Dreaming Dead and Byzantine both had successful Kickstarter campaigns recently. I know there’s been some backlash to the tune of “HUR DUR THEY’RE SUPER-RICH MUSICIANS AND THEY’RE STEALING OUR MONEY,” but presumably that comes mostly from people who don’t understand what bands at this level, even beloved bands, actually earn, especially without fickle label support.

  3. Well done to them, I wish my favourite bands had this kind of support. Thinking on it though, this record better be really good, otherwise these kind of crowd-funding schemes could turn sour with fans.

    I think I read somewhere Warner are introducing this kind of funding to their signing policy. If a band can raise their cash, Warner will sign them. Something like that anyway.

    Yeah, here we go, Bob Lefsetz is a FUCKING GENIUS and he wrote this a little while ago:

    “Starting May 1st, all Warner albums will be funded by Kickstarter.

    Perennially third, the smallest of the three majors saw a need to shake it up, to move ahead of Sony and Universal in the game of music production. Lucian Grainge bought EMI, believing it was all about market share, economies of scale…but that’s positively old school. Today you drill down into the niches, you solidify your relationship with your fan base, you grow from the bottom up, not the top down.

    Yes, Stephen Cooper has just thrown a curve ball so wide, Doug Morris won’t even see it.

    Believing it’s about radio and retail, septuagenarian Morris is putting himself out to his own pasture. Didn’t he get the memo? Newspapers are dying, young people ignore mainstream media, to try to close young people via old media is like insisting baby boomers give up their Lipitor. Raw stupidity. Then again, the music business was always about muscle.

    But now it’s about data.

    Lucian Grainge hired Steve Barnett to run Capitol…he’d have been better off hiring a nerd, someone who knows the difference between a 0 and a 1…then again, does anybody in the music business truly know how digital works? I think not.

    The nerds have inherited the earth.

    And Perry Chen is the new Rick Rubin.

    You know, Mr. Vibe. Rick doesn’t really produce records, not in the traditional sense. He just drives artists to capture the zeitgeist. And Perry Chen is riding the wave that Laird Hamilton is unable to get Rick to surf. Rick keeps losing his deal, whereas now Perry Chen is the king of deals.

    And the man who executes is Yancey Strickler. Who once upon a time worked at eMusic, before he became one of the Kickstarter troika.

    Yancey was in L.A. two weeks ago, inking the deal with Cooper.

    You see in today’s market you can’t oversell. Oh, you can try to, but it backfires. You have one hit, and then your career**. We live in a land of one hit wonders. But even PSY got a couple of months. “Harlem Shake” was here and gone in a matter of weeks. You’ve got to play for the long haul. Something Doug Morris has never done, but Stephen Cooper is doing now.

    It’s always outsiders that lead the revolt.

    So from now on, every act that raises $100,000 on Kickstarter will automatically get a Warner Music contract. Assuming the act wants it. Which in most cases it shouldn’t, but acts are delusional and want a deal so they can tell mommy and daddy they’ve made it.

    But there’s another way to get your Warner deal via Kickstarter. If you get 1000 people to donate, you get a deal too. Since most Kickstarter bands don’t have that many fans willing to pony up the bucks, don’t expect Warner to be overwhelmed with new talent.

    As for the acts already signed to Warner?

    Cooper’s stealth hire is Amanda Palmer. Unable to get anybody interested in her music other than her hard core fans, Ms. Palmer is now going where her talent truly lies, in marketing, in self-promotion. Her TED speech was just the beginning. Cooper had no idea who Palmer was, but when his niece told him at the seder to check Amanda out, Cooper did and pounced.

    Palmer is now wrapping up her musical career, and will be holding boot camps for all Warner artists imminently. Unwilling to spend the dough to fly acts to L.A. or New York, Palmer will go on a bus tour across America, meeting with each and every Warner artist in his or her hometown. The blogosphere will light up with hype. This is the story true fans are following, not Lady Gaga’s golden wheelchair, not what’s on TMZ or Radar, those are positively last decade.

    Palmer’s gonna teach all those Warner artists the new reality. That your bond with your fans is all that counts. Build up the hard core. Rip them off for as many dollars as you can. It’s all about the cash, baby. Palmer will teach them how to beg and sell, via Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook, even Pinterest! Finally, Blavatnik’s purchase will pay off.

    The labels can’t compete with the promoters. It’s Live Nation and AEG that truly pony up the big bucks. But Cooper is smart, he knows that no act succeeds without fans, and that’s what his new strategy is all about, fans.

    The old guard is toast.

    Tom Windish has made an exclusive deal to represent all new Warner talent. CAA is too self-impressed, saying it can get acts into movies when we all know it’s about TV and the creators are the new auteurs and can’t be told who to use anyway. All the established agencies are missing the boat, they’re about commissions as opposed to talent development. It’ll be the death of them.

    As for sponsorship… It’s toast. Now, the fans will sponsor the acts. It’s a direct connection. Heart to heart. In one fell swoop, Mr. Cooper is wiping away decades of music business b.s. As for the rumor that every Warner act will be given a copy of Clive Davis’s autobiography…that was a plant, by Mr. Davis himself, to goose sales, there’s no truth to that rumor.

    But what can Warner do for you, after they’ve signed you?

    Well, you do get a free pair of Google glasses. And a Nest thermostat, assuming you’re not living out of your car. But via a secret deal, Daniel Ek will promote you via Spotify. With Jimmy’s MOG/Daisy/Beats Music tied in with Universal, Ek is desperate. But Ek knows it’s all about talent, and he’s lining up with the innovator.

    Cooper has also made a deal with Jeff Bezos. Every act will get fifteen gigs of cloud storage and their music will be available to all Amazon Prime members for free.

    But it gets even better. Mark Zuckerberg will now allow all Warner artists to spam their entire fan base on Facebook cost free, in exchange for a record deal for one Facebook employee per year.

    And five Warner acts, not those already signed to the label, but those who come to the company via Kickstarter, will fill guaranteed slots at Coachella. Expect similar announcements to come regarding Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo. Rumor has it ACL will be excluded, since Austinites don’t like to be told what to listen to.

    Yes, what Warner is selling is relationships. Which used to be with radio and retail, but are now with the tech set.

    Crowdfunding is here to stay. And Warner is guaranteeing results. If you pledge and the act doesn’t deliver, you get the equivalent of your pledge in Warner stock. If you’re under the age of eighteen, no stock will be forthcoming, but you can choose from the merchandise/rewards of other Warner Kickstarter artists.

    Cooper is clueless when it comes to music. But he realizes it’s no longer about focusing on the few, but having a relationship with the many. Why sign a band with no following? Why not go with those who have a start, entice them with perks, and then wait for one of these acts to blow up?

    And if they don’t, it doesn’t matter! There was no investment! The fans foot the bill!

    And ultimately, in two years time, it’s going to take a while to write the code, Kickstarter and Warner will offer funding for tour buses and all the accoutrements of success. Yes, Cooper is gonna load the entire cost of music development and exposure on the fans. And instead of getting 5%, Kickstarter will get 20% of Warner branded exclusive services.

    Just when you thought things were settling down, it’s clear that tech and music are becoming even further intertwined, and it’s those who think outside of the box who will win. If you’re doing it the old way, you’re on the road to failure.

    Warner Music is not.”

    • Gawd. This is disgusting. And it seems like such another world, one I certainly don’t give a shit about, though I can’t help but wonder who in their right mind would want to sign with Warner under these circumstances.

      • “Hey guys, if we get enough hits on Kickstarter, Warner will swoop in after the hard work is already done and then make us work with Amanda Palmer!”

        (Entire band immediately commits suicide and/or goes to trade school to learn diesel mechanics.)

  4. wow, the whole indiegogo/kickstarter thing is getting pretty crazy. is the Warner stuff actually real?

  5. Wow, this is crazy…. I can’t imagine why so much money would even be necessary for an album like this, though maybe promotion will be a big part of it. And I suppose it’ll help pay for transportation and travel for everyone in the band as well.

    I remember seeing something very similar happen to Protest the Hero recently.

  6. Can’t understand the hate about fundraising so much money for an record. Of course some of the perks are ridiculous and creating a something like a rockstar mentality for the band: “you pay 350$ and can become part of a gang vocal team for our new and awsome album because we are freaking special guys” but as long as there are offers like an cd / vinyl package for a resonable price it’s totally ok.

    Protest the Hero got $341,146 in total btw

    • Erm… none of us here are hating on it. It looks to me like most of us have contributed to supporting bands by this medium.

      Some of us are simply acknowledging the potential misuse of the system, and some potential criticisms of it.

      That’s not “being a hater”.

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