2008.03.26 She gets by with a lot of help from her fans

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

In the music business, there are people like Bruce Springsteen, who seem to make a hit out of anything they decide to record and make millions of dollars. And then there’s someone like Jill Sobule.

A contemporary of Alanis Morissette, Sobule’s style is often compared to the late Warren Zevon. That’s considered high praise in this corner. Interestingly, Sobule and Zevon used to tour together, serving as each other’s backup band as neither could afford one. She sang on the tribute CD released after Warren’s death, sharing equal billing with the likes of other Zevon friends like Springsteen and Bob Dylan.

Like Zevon, her biggest fame came from a quirky semi-hit early in her career. The controversial “I Kissed A Girl,” from her first album, remains the high point in a musical odyssey covering six albums and four record companies, two of which went bankrupt around her.

Attempting to gain some control over her career (and with no other options), Sobule decided to raise the money to put out her next album directly from her fans, becoming, in effect, her own record company. There was some thought given to selling stock and sharing whatever profits the CD made, but the avalanche of paperwork and government regulations involved in such a scheme seemed onerous.

Instead, the decision was made to solicit contributions online and offer thank you gifts to donors. This enabled fans to receive perks usually reserved for music industry insiders.

I always enjoy reading the thank yous in a CD’s liner notes, wondering who the often unknown names belong to. For a mere $50, Sobule offered a copy of the finished CD and a thank you in the liner notes. A total of 174 fans took advantage of the offer (it would have been 175 had I known about it sooner).

Fans with $500 and a big ego could actually get referred to on the CD’s final track, an instrumental on which Sobule promised to mention and maybe even rhyme with the names of donors. This could have been an extremely long track, but with only 23 donors to cite, it shouldn’t be that bad. I’d warn Jill not to release this one as the first single, however.

Or double your donation and Sobule would write your own theme song. Yes, for $1,000, Sobule would write a personalized song which you could put on your answering machine. How much do you suppose Bob Dylan would charge for something like this? Sobule received eight donors at this level.

Getting up into the big bucks, for $5,000, Sobule would come to your home and put on a concert for you. She’s actually done quite a few house concerts in the past, and claims hosts often charge their guests to get their money back. This would seem like a good way for people looking for a career in concert promotions who happen to have a large home to get some experience. There were just three takers at this level, so Jill won’t have to add too many dates to her calendar.

Finally, for a $10,000 donation, you could actually sing on Sobule’s album. I would have expected some “American Idol” wannabes to jump at this opportunity. Jill even offered to fix any lack of singing ability on her end, or “You can always play the cowbell.”

I was amazed that only one person opted to cough up ten grand and sing on the CD, but no matter. Sobule’s original goal was $75,000 to cover recording costs and a few more donors got through before the website quit taking pledges, so 554 fans ended up giving in excess of $80,000. The top 14 contributors alone pledged $38,000 of that total.

Sobule joked on her website about heading to the Atlantic City casinos with the money, but instead promises to make her fans and donors a great record. Since I didn’t find out about the fund raising until a few days after Jill met her goal, I’ve still got the money I would have donated to her. I probably should use it to help some other musician or group, but who?

I couldn’t even buy a ticket to see Bruce Springsteen for $50, so there’s no chance that would buy me a liner note mention. Maybe I could spend the cash to reunite some forgotten group like Adam & The Ants, Brewer & Shipley or Mott the Hoople.

Or do you suppose The Knack would come to Fayette and sing “My Sharona” in my apartment for $50? Actually, that’s a dumb idea. I should start by offering them $25. I might get two concerts for the price of one.

 

  • Front.pokemon
    LATEST CRAZE—David Cortes (left) and Ty Kruse, along with Jerred Heselschwerdt (standing), consult their smartphones while engaging in the game of Pokémon Go. The virtual scavenger hunt comes to life when players are in the vicinity of gyms, such as Stair District Library, and PokéStops such as the fire station across the street. The boys had spent time Monday morning searching for Pokémon at Wakefield Park.
  • Front.drum
    on your mark, get set, drum!—Drew Joughin (black shirt), Maddox Joughin and Kaleea Braun took the front row last week when Angela Rettle and assistants led the Stair District Library Summer Reading Program kids in a session of cardio drumming. The sports and healthy living theme continued yesterday with a Mini Jamboree at Lake Hudson State Park arranged by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Next week’s program features the Flying Aces Frisbee show.
  • Girls.on.ride
    NADIYA YORK and Aniston Valentine take a spin on the Casino, one of the rides offered at Wakefield Park during Morenci’s Town and Country Festival. This year’s festival remained dry but with plenty of heat during the three-day run. Additional photographs are inside this week’s Observer.
  • Front.softball
    Angela Davis (2) and teammate Allison VanBrandt break into a jig after Morenci's softball team won its third consecutive regional title.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.soccer.balls
    BEVY OF BALLS—Stair District Library Summer Reading Program VolunTeens, including Libby Rorick, back left and Ty Kruse, back right, threw a dozen inflatable soccer balls into the crowd during a reading of “Sergio Saves the Game.” The sports-themed program continues on Wednesdays through July 27.
  • Front.art.park
  • Front.drum
  • Shadow.salon

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016