For the follow-up to his 2016 album Moving Mountains, pianist Dan DeChellis decided to take a slightly different approach to crowdfunding.
He crunched the numbers and calculated how much it would cost to cover studio time and to get the new album into the hands of fans. However, the release would be strictly digital to minimize the amount of out-of-pocket expenses.
"If you do the math, all I really needed was about $500 to walk out of (the studio) with a mastered CD of 11 new tunes," DeChellis said. "How much money your paying is paying for the actual music and recording versus packaging, distribution, delivery, design, all of that. For a $15 CD, maybe $4 of it is going for the music. I figured why not just cut out the middle man?"
Working with a jazz trio, DeChellis said, helped in slimming down projected costs. "The nice thing about, the luxury I suppose I have, of working with a trio is the process of making a record is very different. There are no overdubs, no backing vocals, no layering."
So DeChellis -- who also performs in Easton-based Americana-rock outfit Acoustic Kitty Project -- set up a PayPal account and turned to Facebook to seek donations. Those who donated money in turn would receive a digital copy of the album, as well as a digital image of the cover.
To his surprise, DeChellis, said he not only met his goal but exceeded it by 20 donations. The Ongoing Dream was electronically delivered to donors last week. DeChellis said he plans on registering the album digitally for public purchase.
"I like the idea of crowding thing because it gets people involved and people feel they've taken part in something," he said. "I know I'm not the inventor of this idea. It just worked out really well."
Twenty years before first utilizing a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for Moving Mountains, which was released digitally and on vinyl, DeChellis used a similar method to record his first album. "I wrote a letter to every family member I could think of and said, 'I want to make my first solo record and would you be interested in pre-paying?'"
Soon, DeChellis started receiving checks for $10 in the mail. "This is the third time I've done it, with Kickstarter being the biggest one, but it worked."
DeChellis' success is part of a growing trend in recent years in which artists, both on a local and even national level, have turned to crowdfunding.
Multi-platinum-selling rock band Candlebox -- whose 1993 self-titled debut album spawned the hits "Far Behind" and "You" -- used PledgeMusic to fund their 2016 studio album Disappearing in Airports.
Bassist Shawn Cav, of Palmer Township, also went the crowdfunding route for his forthcoming sophomore album with his fusion jazz ensemble. Though he admitted the effort was not quite as successful as DeChellis', Cav said crowdfunding made sense from both a promotional and financial aspect.
"The first record was all out of pocket. So when I started performing out with the ensemble, I already had an album made and to sell," Cav said. "If I had given myself a year to push the crowdfunding, maybe I would have come a lot closer to the actual cost of everything."
Cav said he gave himself a deadline of three months to secure funding through a Kickstarter campaign. He also set up tiered packages to offer more incentive for fans to donate.
Depending on how much they gave, fans were able to choose either a digital or physical copy of the upcoming album. (The new record is a follow-up to 2016's Glass Houses EP). A few will be mailed signed hard copies. "The benefit of doing that is it gives people the opportunity to support you," Cav said. "Most of what I ended selling, package-wise, was digital copies of the (first) CD."
Despite not reaching his financial goal, Cav intends on releasing the follow-up to Glass Houses this summer. Cav said he and his ensemble plan on heading into the studio in early May to begin production on the new album. "We'll go in an bang the whole thing out in one day, which is totally doable with these guys," he said.
The rise in crowdfunding and crowdsourcing among musicians is reflective of more and more listeners consuming their music digitally. Though vinyl has experienced a resurgence in sales and popularity over the last decade, CD sales continue to be on the decline as streaming continues to dominate the music industry.
DeChellis said his own experiences speak to the larger picture within the business.
"Honestly, since I've lived here (in Easton), I've sold less than 300 CDs. I've gotten twice that, if not three times that, in streams and downloads," he said. "The truth is, I'm (making records) for myself. I'm doing it because I want to document my work. Beyond that, I want people to enjoy my music. Plus, having new material gives you something to talk about."