As a good groupie, there are lots of ways to support the bands you love. There's the traditional ways: buying their CDs and merch and going to shows to show your love and make sure they have gas money (and hopefully a little extra for food) to get to the next show.
Lately, it seems as though websites are popping up right and left to make it easier to not only support the bands you love, but also get a little something in return. My favorites, in no particular order are Patronism, Kickstarter and NoiseTrade.
Read a little about each below, and if you like the concept go tell your favorite band to use it!
This is a free, legal download site. I initially discovered NoiseTrade from a friend posting on Facebook and quickly fell in love with it.
Artists are given the option of offering as much music as they want - downloads range from singles to entire albums. In exchange for being able to download their music free, you trade your e-mail address and zip code. (Before that discourages you, I'll vouch for it: I have yet to be spammed with e-mail from giving NoiseTrade my address.)
At the download, you also have the option to share a link to the album on your Facebook or Twitter account - or you can even choose to pay for the album if you feel so inclined.
I've found myself addicted to this site, pouring through the thousands of bands who have downloads available. Initially it was local bands I found that drew me in, but now I just browse for stuff that seems to be up my alley. It's an incredibly simple way to discover new music. Go browse - you just might find a new band to love!
My current download recs:
Designed to "kick-start" a creative project, Kickstarter is essentially a fundraising website. Anyone working on a creative project can set up a page, set a deadline and start working to fund their idea.
Kickstarter is set as an all-or-nothing funding. The money is only collected, via Amazon's Flexible Service Payments (SUPER easy to use!), if the project reaches its funding goal. (rev. 6/9) This way, not only is the project creator motivated to get to their goal, but those helping to fund the project are also invested if it's something they want done.
A friend who lives in Tenneessee got be on-board with this site when she shared on Facebook that some friends of hers were trying to fund their next album. I didn't even know the band's music, but I loved the concept so much that I jumped in and pledged $50. So far, I've supported two bands via Kickstarter who were raising funds to record an album: Harrison Hudson and the Californian.
(For the record, both reached their goal and have been able to record their album.)
My favorite part is that bands set incentive levels for their fans. For example, I gave $60 to The Californian and in return I get the album, a signed posted and a T-shirt. I like that I'm able to give the band something they need, they give me a little something back, and we all get great music out of it. Win-win-win.
Okay, I lied. I might have a favorite after all...
Similar to Kickstarter, Patronism works on a subscription level incentive program. For as little as $2/month, you can support a band and get access to exclusive content. The more you pay, the more content you are granted access to.
My buds Quiet Company started using this site in mid-April. I signed up shortly after, and only two months in I can already say the $10/month I pay to be a 'patron' for them is beyond worth it. Not only do I have access to every piece of music they've recorded (and ever will as long as I stay a patron) plus the music of two bands their lead singer Taylor was in before Quiet Company, but I also get exclusive blogs written by the band members and behind-the-scenes videos in the studio or from people they work with like their music video director at Digital Shakedown. Sometimes they give us gems too, like the Quiet Company font designed by their bassist Matt. (That alone was worth it!)
In a nutshell, Patronism is the fanclub reimagined. They give bands the platform to offer the content, and the bands can use it however they way. I'm looking forward to more artists taking notice and using this service.
Click around these sites, share them with bands you love and we can watch them grow - all while enjoying the music that makes you, you.