HomeSonos and Kickstarter: Funding A Recording Project

Amy Malkoff's picture

As more groups turn to Kickstarter to fund their projects, we wondered how the process works and worked for one specific group that utilized the site for their upcoming recording. We recently spoke to Kathy Hoye from Sonos about Sonos: The Grassroots Project

CASA: How did this idea come about?

Kathy Hoye: This idea came up when we were discussing ways to fund the next big steps of our journey as Sonos, the new album and the new live show. We've been together now for about three or four years, touring and recording and doing all sorts of things, but it's still difficult to make enough money to support five people and keep our business and careers moving forward. Our fans had been asking us at every show, "When is the new album coming out?" and we figured that we should just get going - The only thing holding us back was money, so we asked our fans for help.

CASA: This CD is going to be all originals. who is/are the writers in the group and how does the songwriting process work?

KH: Indeed, this next album is going to be all original Sonos songs. We wanted to challenge ourselves and do something a little different, so we set that goal for ourselves a while ago, and intend to stick to it. For so long we had been putting so much creative energy into our covers and creating so much original material for them anyway, we figured that we would just move to the natural next step. All of us have been writing for the new album, which has been both easy at times, and very difficult at other times. I know for me, writing an original song is such a different animal than coming up with an arrangement for a song that already exists - It's kind of like using a different part of your brain, even though you're still making music. The whole writing process continues to be quite an awesome part of our musical journey.

CASA: When starting your Kickstarter campaign, how did you decide how much to ask for?

KH: We knew there was certain gear that we wanted to purchase with our Kickstarter funds, and then after brainstorming about what we would need in addition for the album, we settled on $25k. We needed enough to reach our artistic goals, but didn't want to overshoot. There are so many artists who spend many many thousands of dollars on their albums, but we didn't want to ask too much of our fans financially.

CASA: How realistic did you think that goal was?

KH: Pretty realistic, although we were never absolutely positive that we would reach it. It always felt like a little bit of a gamble.

CASA: Who were your backers? Were there surprises when it came to who pledged, how much, etc?

KH: We had tons of different people from our journey show us their support - Old fans, new fans, many people from the a cappella community, many who had nothing to do with a cappella, people who had heard us on NPR, students from high schools we had worked with over the years, teachers we had worked with, friends, family, and even a couple famous musicians :) We were sooooo pleasantly surprised at the outpouring of love - We felt that people really wanted us to make new music, and that really is the greatest motivation of all.

CASA: I see one person pledged at one of the highest levels, so that means you'll be making dinner for someone. has that happened yet and how will that work out?

KH: Actually the highest level incentive was to record on our new album, which our donor already did! It's going to be awesome :)

CASA: Was there a time between when the campaign started and when it ended where it looked like it wouldn't be funded? What was that like?

KH: There was one point somewhere in the middle that we weren't sure how things would turn out. People pledged a lot at the beginning, but then there was a lull in the middle of the campaign where things slowed down significantly. We weren't sure if people were waiting until the last minute, so we really pushed the promotion in the last two weeks, and then were so very relieved and grateful when we met our goal.

CASA: What specifically is/will the money go towards?

KH: We developed a budget for our campaign even before we began, and gear was a large part of that. We've purchased new Line 6 M-9 pedals that have been unbelievable additions to our live show, as well as the jamhub 'silent rehearsal studio' that has been perfect for us to take on the road. There's still some more gear that needs to be purchased, but we're waiting to exercise all our resources in terms of trying  to get sponsorships - We don't want to waste our Kickstarter money if we don't have to! We're also planning on using it for getting the actual album released - So many costs go into getting a great album together, from mastering to artwork to manufacturing to promotional touring, and we don't want to cut anything short. We want to make this the best album we've made so far in our careers.

CASA: What's your vision for the new recording?

KH: It's hard to answer this question without giving too much away :) Our intention has always been to make electronic, organic, emotional music, and I'm sure that album will be along those lines. But we're definitely planning some surprises, some things that are a little out of the ordinary - Again, we're not intending to skimp on anything in this process, and that's why we're trying not to rush it too much. We have lots to say & we need to figure out the right way to say it.

CASA: What did you think about Kickstarter in general? How did the system work for you? Is it something you'd do again?

KH: Kickstarter was an awesome website to work with - It was easy for all five of us to use and super simple to keep track of anything. They made it easy for us to keep in contact with the people who have donated. So much of our involvement in the campaign took place after the goal had been met, and Kickstarter made it really convenient for us to get everything organized.

CASA: How did it feel to have the community come through for you so strongly ultimately?

KH: I can't really describe how humbling it was to have so many people come through for us. Our fans are the main reason that we make music, and they proved to us in such an amazing way that they want to keep listening to it. This album will be 100% made for them, and we just hope that they enjoy the journey we want to take them on.

CASA: Are there other a cappella bands that have used Kickstarter that you know of, and how have they fared (if you know)?

KH: I did notice after our Kickstarter was over that a bunch of other bands had similar projects going, and it was so cool to see so many of them succeeding! In a way, Kickstarter is the perfect way for musical exchange to work. It's so similar to going to a live show; You pay for a ticket, and the bands makes music for you. I'm so thrilled that so many groups are getting to do the projects they want because of this system.

CASA: Have you started recording, and when will the project be done?

KH: We have indeed started recording and things are going well. You can watch some videos on YouTube of new songs, and this will give fans an idea of the direction we're going. We're hoping to get everything finished up this winter/early spring, and have the album out not too long after that.

CASA: Anything else about your Kickstarter experience you'd like to tell us?

KH: Only that we're so unbelievably grateful to our fans for their support :) A lot has happened to us this year, but by far the most extraordinary was the love we felt from them. We can't wait to share our new music with everyone!