When it's used correctly, Kickstarter is a magnificent tool to get a project off the ground. The website allows users to post campaigns for stuff they would really like to create—new electronic devices, a Bicycle Bus, animated comics backed by big-time directors—and for the makers to solicit donations using rewards, which often include copies of the finished product.
One catch: Each campaign chooses a set period of time to reach their fundraising goal; if they don't make it, they get nothing. Obviously, this has been a boon for independent recording artists. Just yesterday, Chapel Hill's Some Army found success in a campaign to record its debut LP.
With this kind of do-it-yourself fundraising, specificity is key. Donors need to know exactly what they're putting their money towards and precisely what they can expect in return. Ambitious and well-intended projects can open themselves up to unexpected questions if they don't adhere to this principle, which brings us to Pet-Tich-Eye.
As local music Kickstarters go, this project is about as daunting and promising as they come. Members of many popular Triangle acts—Megafaun, Mount Moriah, Hiss Golden Messenger, Bowerbirds, The Rosebuds (big breath), The Love Language, Lost in the Trees, Hammer No More the Fingers, Horseback, Birds of Avalon, Airstrip—broke into 10 one-off trios, writing a song and then taking a day in the studio to record it. Each triumvirate chose a different photographer to document the session and a different visual artist to create individual album art for each song. All of this will be compiled into an album and art book, the product Pet-Tich-Eye's Kickstarter is hoping to fund. If your eyes weren't already bulging, the campaign's goal is a whopping $14,000. They have until Mar. 31 to reach that target.
The project's grandest ambition is also the part where this all gets a little muddy:. Each trio also paired with a community organization in a symbiotic relationship where the charity gets exposure. But they don't get any proceeds from the Kickstarter. Those funds will purely pay back the debt incurred by project organizers, a fact that isn't pointed out until the FAQ section at bottom of the campaign description. Thus, it would seem quite likely that people could donate to this project and still think that part of their money is going to charity. As local music fan Rachel Mills pointed out on a lengthy and smart blog entry about the project yesterday, there are other and potentially more sensible avenues for the project. For now, though, the Kickstarter page persists and is currently at a little less than 20% funding.
Such issues are a shame because—as anyone who tuned in Monday to check out an early stream of the album will know—the music is quite good. "East Coast/West Coast Time" imagines a more hip-hop-inspired version of The Rosebuds as the group's Ivan Howard and Mount Moriah's Heather McEntire blend their luxuriously twanged pipes over tense synthesizers and a hard-edged beat. "Somewhere in Between (Breathe)" displays a close relationship with its corresponding charity as Kane Smego from the Sacrificial Poets offers powerful spoken word about building a legacy over uneasy drone created by Megafaun's Phil Cook and Horseback/Mount Moriah guitarist Jenks Miller.
Here's hoping Pet-Tich-Eye works out their issues: I'd like to listen to this album without worrying that some might not understand where their money is going.