So What Do I Know Now?–Part 2

Last year, here on the Voices blog, I asked you all for your thoughts on how to finance and put out my next record. I got some swell advice, as well as some good wishes. Many agreed that the patronage system–asking fans to donate money–was a promising idea.

Well, I did it! I put up a Web site called, and within two months I reached my target figure of $75,000.

I really had no idea if I would make it, or end up embarrassed with just my mom donating at the “polished rock level.” By the way, the polished rock level (free early download) was $10. But you could donate all the way up to “weapons-grade plutonium” ($10,000), where you get to sing a duet with me. One businesswoman from the United Kingdom, named Jo Pottinger, flew in last month to sing and, honestly, did a bang-up job.

So, how have I spent my money so far? Well, I got production help from my pal Don Was (The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt). He got me a great rate at the old A&M studios (where Carole King did “Tapestry,” Joni Mitchell did “Blue” and where so many of my favorites recorded). Normally, I would never be able to afford to record there.

He also hooked me up with some of my favorite old-time session players, like Jim Keltner, who played on all those Beatles solo records. We recorded old-school and played live with not much overdubbing–and that includes the vocals.

I wanted to have the energy and looseness of some of my favorite childhood records, before everything got so quantized and auto-tuned. And because of that, we did it really fast.

Oh, I have also booked a day where I will sing and play guitar on 10 songs to a click track. My idea is to release it with the audio files so that people (pro or amateur) can put the tracks on their garage band or pro-tools and mix, produce and deconstruct the songs as they see fit. Thinking of having a contest for the best production.

Dave Carpenter, Jill Sobule, and Don Was

Dave Carpenter, Jill Sobule, and Don Was

So, now that I have spent a little more than half my budget on recording, plus another $10,000 on various stuff (donation prizes, Webmaster fees, the PayPal percentage, iPhone apps), I have around $25,000 left to play with.

I still don’t want to license the record to any of the labels. But now I have to figure out how to do all the things they traditionally do (distribution, marketing, publicity) and take advantage of the opportunities with new media (which they have not been so great at).

There have been more than a few companies that have come to me with their new paradigms for how to make money in this digital age–mostly how they can make money. I am trying to look at all of them (some do sound sort of promising and intriguing).

Oh, and I still want to have hard copies available too–I have a friend who will make a mini graphic novel that would include two pages for every story (song).

So here I am, asking you smartypants people for ideas. You do seem to know more than most in the “industry.”

By the way, I reopened the Jillsnextrecord site recently, upon request, for those who told me they wanted to donate and have their names in the liner notes (or sung in a song). If any of you are interested–and I’m just saying–it will still be up until we go to the printers in a week or two.

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