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Ben Folds Five to crowdsource distribution and promotion of new album

The as-yet unnamed upcoming album by the reunited Ben Folds Five, due out in late summer or early fall, is seeking subscription support from fans for distribution via Pledge Music. Through the Pledge Music system, one makes a “pledge” or payment of financial support and, depending on the amount chosen, can receive a variety of rewards ranging from a digital download of the finished project to signed CDs, tour t-shirts and a vinyl pressing. For the Ben Folds Five project, a basic download is $10, and other premiums range upward to $62. Though the project reached its monetary goal less than a day after being launched, one can still enroll and claim one of the premiums.

Also on the project’s Pledge Music page is a video produced by onetime bandmate Ryan Lerman, overlaid on the second new track, Sky High, to announce the new album and the promotional effort.

The distribution scheme is a new take for many musicians who want to reach fans directly instead of going through the conventional record company channels. Self-described as “hands-on, direct-to-fan,” it’s largely being used by otherwise unsigned artists and new acts, though there are a number of veteran artists, including Juliana Hatfield and Grant-Lee Phillips, who have projects on Pledge Music. And, the funding and distribution  model of Pledge Music isn’t the only one out there. Amanda Palmer, whose recent album was produced by Ben, funded her latest project on Kickstarter, raising nearly six times the $100,000 target and earning accolates as the “Best New Thing in the World” on The Rachel Maddow Show.tonight (May 7).

Besides the Pledge Music project, Ben is asking fans to become “vice-presidents of promotion” by spreading the word to friends about the debut track, Do It Anyway, along with news about the work in progress as it develops. He’s promising to acknowledge everyone who joins in the effort in some way in poster graphics, album cover art or other means yet to be discussed. The whole thing is unfolding in a very spur-of-the-moment manner and as new ideas come to them, don’t be surprised at what you see.

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