When Chris Ranallo made records in the past, he would turn to his family, like the time his grandfather gave him a loan to finish his 2005 album “Velcro Dog.” For his upcoming album, “Exhale,” the singer-songwriter has turned to Kickstarter.
More than a week before his fundraising campaign was set to end, Ranallo had hit his goal of $3,500. As of Monday he had raised $4,450. Fans can still pledge until 1:20 p.m. Thursday.
Ranallo said the Kickstarter method, which lets creators offer incentives to people who pledge, is a less humbling experience than just asking for cash.
“I didn’t want to ask for donations, because there are people out there taking donations for things that are much more important,” said Ranallo, 34. “This is pretty much pre-ordering a product. It makes it feel a little more justified.”
For a pledge of $10, fans can get a copy of “Exhale” and digital downloads two weeks before the album’s official release (planned for September). For $100, someone gets two copies of the CD, a personal note, two tickets to the CD release show, and access to a pre-show acoustic set by Ranallo and his band.
Those lower-price options attracted dozens of backers, but Ranallo also got a number of pledges at $300 or more. For $300 Ranallo will cover a song of the backer’s choice and post it on YouTube (plus they get all the CD goodies). Two people have shelled out dough to have Ranallo be their video jukebox.
Alexandra Bomhoff is one of those backers. A musician herself, Bomhoff plans to have Ranallo cover a song of his choice from her own catalog of tunes.
“At the very least, it is an investment in my personal amusement,” Bomhoff said. “Say I watch the video once a week, after a dozen years that’s only 50 cents per view of this clean cut, tanned hottie singing about kidnapping a cat or interacting with tentacles or taxidermy.”
The $500 and $750 options include a live acoustic show by Ranallo at a location of the backer’s choosing. Ranallo got one backer each at those levels.
“I do a lot of private shows anyway, so it made sense to pursue that,” Ranallo said. “They were people who had talked about hiring me for a private event anyway, so they kind of got a deal. It’s not like I’ll be showing up and performing tableside at a restaurant. Which I would do.”
Ranallo said about 95 percent of his backers have clicked through from his Facebook page, where he has more than 4,000 fans. Ranallo has already paid for most of the recording; the Kickstarter funds will help cover mastering, duplication, merchandise and touring.
Kickstarter won’t cover all Ranallo’s expenses. He estimates he actually needs around $5,500, but set his goal lower because if artists don’t reach their goals on Kickstarter they get nothing.
Based on his experiences with “Exhale,” Ranallo would use Kickstarter again to fund an album.
“Absolutely, though I would probably have to think on it some,” Ranallo said. “But it would be nice to let fans know I appreciated their support this time and try to think of some more creative ways to reward them.”