Nashville locals prove that success beyond major labels is as attainable as ever
As a musician, there is no greater gamble than going independent. Without the financial support provided by a record label, all expenses for touring, marketing, and promotion come out of the artist’s pocket. That being said, independence grants one the rights to their masters, giving them the power to do with their music as they please. Freedom in today’s market means that indies can operate their own crowdfunding campaign or direct to fan e-commerce store.
After struggling to release a new album for over two years through a record label, it’s easy to see why Delta Rae were enticed to leave and progress on their own. Leading a crowdfunding campaign and independent distribution plan left the release of their two upcoming albums completely in their hands, and nobody could have predicted the colossal support the band received as a result.
Delta Rae began their career as independent musicians, successfully raising $28,000 in their first Kickstarter campaign for their debut album in 2011. After singing to Warner Brothers’ Sire Records in 2012, their debut “Carry The Fire” was released on June 19th that year to critical acclaim.
After a successful EP in 2013, collaboration with Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham, and the release of their second album “After It All” on April 7th, 2015, the band encountered internal conflict with the label. In 2017, they relocated to Nashville and signed with Big Machine Label Group in February. A number of EP’s, singles, and music videos were released during their time at Big Machine, though fans were left to anxiously await a new album that never arrived.
On June 27th, 2019, Delta Rae released a statement across their social media platforms that an announcement was arriving on July 1st. No information was given beyond the following image:
Fans were left to speculate for the three days that followed, until the announcement was made public:
In summary, Delta Rae was in the process of completing their third album, “The Light”, with plans to release a fourth album titled “The Dark” that expanded on its narrative.
Alex Wong, the producer of their first album “Carry The Fire” will work with the band again on the two aforementioned projects. “The Light”, to be released on March 20th of 2020, will be bright, sunny, and gospel inspired pop music. “The Dark”, on the other hand, reveals another side of the band. Described as “southern, gothic, and soulful”, Delta Rae will travel into more ominous territory while staying true to their roots.
To fund the bold endeavor, the band linked their Kickstarter page to each announcement post, asking their dedicated fans for support:
With $30,000 dollars, the band pledged to make “The Light”. The breakdown of how this money will be spent was outlined in the following manner:
$10,000 for production
$3,000 for auxiliary (outside) musicians
$10,000 for mixing
$2,000 for mastering
$5,000 for physical production (CD’s, vinyl, art, etc.)
Another $30,000 would give Delta Rae the freedom to make “The Dark”, and any additional money would go towards music videos to promote each work.
On July 1st, the fundraiser officially launched on Kickstarter. What happened next shocked the music world.
After just over 30 minutes, their goal of raising $30,000 dollars was met. After an hour $60,000 had been raised. In just 24 hours, over $150,000 had been donated to Delta Rae. This number ballooned to over $270,000 by July 21st.
After 60 days, Delta Rae had the 5th most funded music Kickstarter in history.
Why Did It Work?
A story as profound as Delta Rae’s couldn’t be told if certain stars hadn’t aligned. That isn’t to say their success can solely be credited to events outside of their control, as the bravery and transparency of the band members enabled them to find said success.
First and foremost, Delta Rae engaged with their fans across social media as frequently as possible. Across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, followers are treated to regular updates on the band’s progression during this period of change. Videos of live performances, teasers to the new album, stories behind each new song and so much more gives fans a lot to digest leading up to the release of “The Light”. Doing so builds excitement and further grows their loyal fanbase.
Instead of haphazardly releasing a collection of songs, Delta Rae is offering a thematic experience that plays into the lore of the band. Imagination, mythology, and the supernatural have all been important motifs across Delta Rae’s career, and the latest evolution in their journey with “The Light” and “The Dark” are no different. Leading up to “The Light”, band members have spoken directly to the style of art they are creating. Vocalist Brittany Hölljes shared her story of wonderment, pain, and evolution on social media as she learns what it means to grow older. Independence enables her to explore these themes through their music and keep her imagination as vibrant as ever:
Through Kickstarter and their new direct to fan e-commerce store, sale and promotion of this new music is completely within their control. They followed Billboard’s updated merch bundle rules and created various tier pre-sale bundles for “The Light.” Their d2c storefront gives visitors the opportunity to pre-order the album either physically, digitally, or though these merch bundle deals.
With control over these platforms, they were able to utilize 3rd party apps like Single Music to deliver the digital component on these music and merch bundles. Single reports all presale albums and bundles to count towards the project’s first week on the Billboard Charts. This gives fans a charting album on release day, while simultaneously making their music more visible amongst new audiences.
The band also integrated a pre-save link with their pre-order. This ensured that their fans not only received their music at the time of its release, but that the music was saved in libraries on streaming platforms that they use every day. These links appear within the pre-release track download email fans receive upon purchase of a pre-sale bundle.
Ownership of the storefront and kickstarter campaign gives the band access to fan data of supporters who interacted with these services. The ability to collect analytics such as who is listening to their music, where, and how fans are interacting with the band digitally makes it easy to closely address the desires of fans across the world. Single makes this access possible, expediting the promotion of the latest endeavors Delta Rae has in store.
As a growing artist in a booming industry, it’s easy to be entranced by the romanticism of a major label deal. Through honesty, ingenuity, and persistence in their craft, Delta Rae stand as proof that one can move beyond the creative entrapment of big business. With excitement mounting ahead of the release of “The Light” and countless other creative endeavors on the cards, these music rebels show no sign of slowing down any time soon.