Have some questions? Here are the answers to the questions we think you might have... (updated 7/8/2008)
Q: So... what's going on here, exactly?
A: Musician Jill Sobule is making her seventh studio album (eighth if you count the one she self-released in 2003). Instead of trying to do it through another record label (her last two labels went out of business), she's decided to go the "DIY" route, and to seek funding through donations from fans and friends. That's what this website is for. Think of it as a kind of a web-based telethon, or the pledge drive for your favorite public TV or radio station. We're taking donations here (using PayPal for online payment processing) and, just like with a telethon, you can watch the tote board and see how we're doing.
Q: And you're trying to raise how much money?
A: $75,000 (to cover recording the album, paying musicians and producers and tech people, and actually making, distributing, marketing and promoting the thing). That was our budget, and our fundraising target, and we reached it on the morning of March 7th, 2008, fifty-three days after we started.
Q: But... 75 thousand? That sounds like an awful lot. Can't you make an album for less than that?
A: Hey, with the technology that's out there these days ... things like GarageBand and Pro Tools and cool stuff like that ... you can make an album for $50, and a pretty good one, too. But that's not the point. We're not trying to make an album on the cheap. We're trying to make something that kicks ass*, and we've got a great producer and some fantastic musicians lined up. Plus, keep in mind, this isn't just studio time and pizza we're talking about here -- we don't just want to make a kick ass album, we want to make a kick ass album that people might actually hear. And that means publicity... promotion... possibly even tour support. These things cost real money. And, by the way, our buddies at PayPal are getting a little cut, too. Bottom line: Wouldn't you rather your money go to a great, top notch album than a mediocre one? And wouldn't you rather it go to the creative people who actually do the work than to some dudes in suits? That's what we're trying to achieve here.
*Technical music industry term
Q: It looks like you raised more than $75,000. Why did you keep collecting money once you reached your goal, and what will you do with the extra funds?
A: Once we reached our target, we decided to leave the donation system up for approximately 36 more hours, to give people who still wanted to participate but hadn't gotten around to it a chance to do so (people asked; some even begged -- honest). The extra money will likely be spent on publicity, because you can never have too much (unless you're Paris Hilton). We may make a video. We may have a wild party featuring widespread substance abuse and various other forms of debauchery. (No, not really. Who do you think we are, Paris Hilton?)
Q: Is it my imagination, or is the tally shown on the Tote Board still going up? I thought you said you were done with the fundraising?
A: Well, we were. But then people kept asking us if they could still get a domation in, and encouraged us repeatedly to leave the donation system open, more or less indefinitely. Perhaps they felt they just had to have their own theme song, or felt their summer would not be complete without a Jill Sobule house concert, or could not stand the idea of the CD coming out without their name in the liner notes. In any event, we finally relented and decided to keep things open, at least until the album is actually on its way to manufacturing. Where will the excess money go? There are always places to spend money when you're putting out a CD. We will fund promotion and marketing (which is way, way more expensive than you'd think), we will, maybe, be able to afford to tour with a band, and who knows what else? Above all, we will make you proud.
Q: Is the money people donated to this project tax deductible?
A: Wouldn't that be nice? Sadly, no. Well, actually, you should ask a qualified tax advisor that question. But they'll tell you no, because we are not a not-for-profit organization.
Q: Instead of just asking people to give you money, why didn't you offer them the chance to invest in your album and get a cut of the proceeds when the album sells? Wouldn't that have been fairer?
A: Well, there has been much debate on what is and is not fair, but the fact is, we looked into that possibility (it was, in fact, our original plan). But we concluded, with the help of advisors that know about these things, that it could get very complicated very fast. The recordkeeping overhead, the legal and contractual requirements, the potential SEC implications -- it's just more than we could reasonably handle. We want to make a record, not start General Motors. However, we did want our contributors to see some sort of "return" on their "investments," so we are offering them an interesting array of Thank You gifts, little perks given in exchange for being so kind as to help out. You can find a quick summary of these in Jill's message (on the site's home page).
Q: Can you tell me a little more about Jill Sobule? Isn't she that "I Kissed a Girl" girl?
A: She is indeed. But she is so much more. You can start with this page of biographical material (and nice quotes from reviewers) we put together, plus take a listen over on our music page for a little cross-section of stuff Jill's done over the years, or our live music page to listen to a full-length live show recorded this past summer in New York. Or you can go to Jill's website, JillSobule.com.
Q: I am a famous reporter from a famous newspaper/magazine/radio show/TV show, and I'd like to do a piece about this project and give you lots of free publicity. Would that be all right?
A: Duhh! Please write us and we'll set something up. Even if you're not all that famous.
Q: Who put this website together? What's it written in? And [insert other nerdy question here]?
A: Tony Camas, Jill's Webmaster since 2002, architected and built the site. And tried hard not to use the word "architected," but succumbed to temptation. He likes to think it's written mostly in English, though some may dispute that. The techie parts are written in HTML (of course), as well as ASP, and a little PHP, using (mostly) Dreamweaver 8 as a development environment. And we added a little flash, just so we could add a little animation effect on one of the pages. The very talented KellyAnne Hanrahan contributed some artwork, because Webmaster Tony, while he thinks he has an okay sense of design, can't draw to save his life. And, of course, a certain musician we know and love had a fair amount of input too. What else? The site's hosted on a Windows 2003 server, the back end database is lowly old Microsoft Access, and ...you're not still reading this incredibly dull stuff, are you?
Q: Hey, your stupid tote board doesn't work right. Like, for instance, it says there are 7 donations at the $5 "Friend" level, but that they total $41. 7 times 5 is 35! What gives?
A: We have no idea what you're talking about. Must be a bug in your computer.
Q: No, really?
A: No. Not really. Really, the level that says $5 actually covers everyone who donated at least $5, but less than the minimum amount for the next level (which is $10). So anyone who gives between $5 and $9 is in the first, "friend of JIll" category; anyone who gives from $10 to $24 is in the second, "Unpolished Rock" category, and so on. Some people give unusual amounts of money. Jill's fans are like that; they're bold and daring, and refuse to stay between the lines. They think outside the box. They revel in new paradigms. And we like that, even if it is a little cliche. Okay, a lot cliche. Anyway... if the tote board says there are 7 donations at the $5 level, what it really means is that 7 people gave somewhere between $5 and $9 each. So that's why the arithmetic doesn't always seem to add up. Got it? Good.
Q: Wait, the website says Jill's Next Record, but the link I followed to get here said JillsNewRecord.com. Is it JillsNextRecord or JillsNewRecord?
A: It's Jill's Next Record, and the official website URL is JillsNextRecord.com. But we knew people would forget it, or mangle it, or get confused.... and that then bad links would start multiplying and spreading all over the Internet. So, anticipating this, we registered a few "alias" domain names, just to cover our bases. JillsNextRecord, JillsNewRecord, JillsNextAlbum, etc... we got 'em all covered. And it's a good thing we did, because somebody actually sent out a press release that (incorrectly) gave our website address as JillsNewRecord.com. Ain't we a buncha smart cookies? You betcha we are!
Q: I have another question, and it's not on your list.
A: Sorry about that. Please e-mail us, and we'll answer it. Or try.
A: Why yes, counselor, as it happens, we do. They're below. Thank you for asking.
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