Monday, May 05, 2008

Music: Sobule the Disrupter

Both Jill Sobule's music and her attitude are critically acclaimed. The singer-songwriter (at left) makes working trips to Nashville several times a year. She created a different sensation earlier this year, when she decided not to pursue her sixth label contract. Instead, she launched a website and a viral campaign inviting the public to donate funds to help her independently produce, distribute and promote her next album. She aimed for $75K, and 53 days later she had $82,557, in 561 contributions ranging from $5 to $10,000 each. She got one $10K gift, earning donor Jill Pettinger of the UK the Plutonium Donor award, with benefits including voice lessons and singing on the album she supported. Sobule's achievement was mentioned only in passing during Leadership Music's Digital Summit, April 22 at Belmont University. But, the echoes from her "shot heard 'round the world" will not soon subside. During our interview Friday, the NY-LA-Nashville artist said she hopes next to create an online portal to enable other singer-songwriters to recruit financial support for their projects. Sobule -- who's been dubbed "deft ironist" by New Republic and "feisty post-punk feminist" by New Yorker -- said she tentatively plans to name her new indie label "Pink Records." The name, she explained with some laughs, is a "tongue-in-cheek" reminder that not only did some of her songs earn her the "Commie" label "back in the day"; but, also, that technology now enables artists to "control the means of production." Her donor-funded record -- "The California Years" -- is due out this fall. If Sobule follows-through with her artists' portal, she could be providing just the sort of disruptive technology that venture-capitalists and others say they're seeking.

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