Gary Lockhart: Web fund raising hits a musical new high

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MARILLION come to town next Tuesday. The prog-pop outfit were one of the first bands to embrace the internet back in 1996 as a means of bypassing the restrictive need for a record company.

The increasing popularity of the web enabled them to establish a closer, stronger link with their fanbase - podcasts, conventions, interactive websites. Indeed, their web-cottage model set the benchmark for others to follow.

Without a label to sustain them, though, it wasn’t long before Marillion began appealing to their many followers; to help fund their albums, launches, tours and so on.

However, while there’s no denying the internet has benefited Marillion (and millions more) in allowing greater artistic freedoms, there seems to be an ever-increasing number of musicians lately – especially established musos with a successful track record – getting the begging bowl out in an attempt to have the public (never mind fans) fund their vanity projects.

If I was a newcomer, I might be prepared to look the other way. Still, those with the pedigree ought to be like everyone else: working hard, saving their pennies, and doing it off their own back. No-one funds my band’s activities – so why ask anyone else to contribute their hard-earned? I’ll tell you why. Because it gains you respect.

It could be argued that no-one is forcing Marillion’s fans to part with their cash – to be fair, they’re an innovative, forward-thinking band in terms of music, too.

That said, I would love to see a new Steely Dan album recorded and get the chance to ask Dan’s Donald Fagen and Walter Becker a few questions about the song-writing process. I’d gladly pay for the album itself, but I’m certainly not going to pay them – a couple of millionaires – to fund its recording.