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The bianca Story: Digging A Hole Through Music Industry

Thanks to Wolfgang Gumpelmaier for doing this interview with Moritz Gombert of Motor Music. Published October 23 2013.

  by Wolfgang

Over the last months there have been a few crowdfunding projects that aimed to make music available for everyone without paying for it in the long term. On Kickstarter for example, a team of classical music enthusiasts launched their second campaign this year, called Set Chopin Free. The goal: hiring an orchestra to recording the life's work of Frédéric Chopin and release it all for free.

But also current bands and musicians approach to this new way of financing and connecting with fans. At the moment swiss New Wave Rock’n’ Roll band The bianca Story is running a funding campaign for setting their music free and delivering it to their fans by offering a free download of the new album on their website. Within two months the band aims to collect 90.000 Euro on wemakeit.ch, a Zurich-based crowdfunding platform for creative projects. In case of success the money goes directly into the album production and promotion. The band itself gets a share of it, also does the partnering record label Motor Music.

Moritz Gombert, band manager at Motor, told us more about the project and the label’s future plans…

50K MUSIC: Why did you decide to use crowdfunding for financing and releasing the new album of The bianca Story?
Moritz: First and foremost it was the band´s decision to choose this unique way to release their new album. Our aim is not to collect the money and to prefinance the production of the record like many other campaigns do. Rather we wanted to take crowd funding to the next level. Initially we were very inspired by the ideas of Rousseau, the band developed a more holistic approach which is based on the concept that music should be free for everybody. Crowdfunding a la The bianca Story means the crowd collects money for the crowd. Once the goal is achieved the music is free for everybody. The whole world profits and enjoys the outcome of this campaign.

Traditionally bands often chose crowdfunding in absence of a label. This is different in case of The bianca Story. The band had our full support from the first second. Motor is known to have taken unusual paths often and is at the forefront of developing new ways and methods to meet the demands of a digitalized music market. We might be looking at the next big solution for the music biz here…provided by little Switzerland. By the way we just cracked the 50.000 Euros. That should be record in GSA (editor's note: Germany Switzerland Austria) for a music project.

50K MUSIC: You’re not only running a simple crowdfunding campaign, you’re also telling a story. Can you please tell us more about “Are you a digger?”
Moritz: "Are you a Digger" is the story about how The bianca Story burrows a 90.000 meter deep tunnel through the fossilized music business. The band is in this together with their supporters to break through to the other side - a land where the music is free. We thought it was a nice metaphor and great symbolism to communicate and spread our philosophy. This is not the story about some band that collects money on the internet to be able to go in the studio and produce their next album. "Are you a Digger" is the story about wholeheartedness and a dedicated band with a great vision to free their music from corrupting influences. Its an interesting story about having the guts to disclose the whole release budget to the public including the record company´s numbers. And last but not least it's a creative and nifty approach to master the challenges imposed by a fast changing business with constantly declining record sales as one of its consequences. The fact that the band is satisfied and happy with a modest fix pay per person and passes on any further record sale income is quite unique and emphasizes the seriousness of this campaign.

50K MUSIC: How important is it today to engage with audiences and fans?
Moritz: It has always been important for an artists to engage with his audience and fans. I think what has changed is not the need to be in touch with your fans but the nature of communication and interaction. The internet has created a great deal of new forms of direct communication between artist and fan. Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, just to name a few, bring about that today the show doesn't stop with the last chord on stage. Rather a modern artist should use these new opportunities and communicate with the fans directly through these different channels, even backstage.

50K MUSIC: How do you involve fans? What do they get for their support?
Moritz: We offer quite a wide range of personal rewards and unique goodies for our supporters. Starting off with the new album which is not a standard CD presale but instead our fans get the new music in combination with a personal handwritten letter of the band. If you are a digger you can also purchase your very own guitar solo from Elia on the upcoming tour, take a drum lesson from Lori, have Anna write a personal poem just for you, get a customized merch bag with your name on, or you could even hang out with the whole band backstage on a typical concert day. Of course we have more goodies than the ones I just named. We put a lot of careful thought into this and I think we came up with a variety of really original campaign goodies that have all in common that they are personally dedicated to the fans.

50K MUSIC: Dieter Meier of Yello is supporting the campaign too. Does a crowdfunding campaign need a star?
Moritz: No I don't think so. The collaboration with Dieter Meier from Yello was purely artistically and about the music from the outset. Elia has worked with Dieter before and the band always admired his work. I think Dieter just liked the song "Mani Matter" and decided to do a vocal part since the chemistry was there. By the way Mani Matter was a famous Swiss songwriter which this song is dedicated to. Dieter got to know about the campaign later and happened to like it too. Of course it helps to have a celebrity on the team since your message will be heard more prominently. But it is neither necessary nor a guarantee for success. It has to be about the idea!

50K MUSIC: What if it doesn’t work out? Is there a plan B?
Moritz: Yes, we have a plan B and that is a regular release via Motor. In this case the music will not be free but availabale in the shops as usual. Of course this would be the less exciting and kind of boring way I guess. As I mentioned in the beginning for The bianca Story it has never been a question of label or crowdfunding since we have always been there.

50K MUSIC: If it works out, could this be a model for all your future projects?
Moritz: If this experiment should be successful we could of course offer this to other artists as well. We put a lot effort and research into this campaign. If we succeed to collect 90.000 Euros I think we are up for pretty much any amount. You name it..the sky is the limit, and we will have the skills.

50K MUSIC: Thank you for the interview.