Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Camper Van Beethoven for sale @ SXSW

How much would you pay to sponsor a song by one of your favourite bands at a gig?

If you’re a Camper Van Beethoven fan, that price is $100.

In sort of the same vein as parts of my Lloyd Cole post yesterday, CVB have taken the DIY bull by the horns by selling sponsorships to fund their appearance at the upcoming SXSW Festival.

The first 35 sponsors who cough up $100 will get to choose a song for the band’s two SXSW shows on March 18 and 20. Don’t be mistaken, though: you don’t get to choose a random song from the CVB discography; the band will be drawing up their setlists for the shows, and sponsors can be credited with funding the performance of one of the tracks from the predetermined list.

If you’re a big fan and you’ll be at one of the two shows, there was a sense of urgency here – the first person who commits $100 gets first choice from the list, the second person gets second choice, etc.

Here’s how you get credit for the sponsorship, taken directly from the band’s website:

• A Santa Cruz Roller Derby Girl will walk/skate across the stage carrying a placard announcing your sponsorship of the song, within full view of the audience or cameras, to have the moment captured on film or video for all of eternity!
• You can have up to 4 names or one business on each placard.
• We will contact you later for details how your sponsorship placard will read.
• We reserve the right to arbitrarily refuse sponsorship from anyone or any organization. (For instance we probably won't be letting Mr. Hugh Jass and Ms. Ann Al-Aksam sponsor any songs. Probably.)

The sponsorship can be either personal or business-based. Crazy, huh? Reports suggest that all 35 sponsorships have been sold – 90% of them to fans.

Camper Van Beethoven – Take The Skinheads Bowling
The Attic - Santa Cruz, CA August 17, 2007

Why did the band do this? A post on the CVB website suggests “performers at SXSW are not really compensated sufficiently to cover travel and lodging costs.” Without a current record label deal in place (based on how “deals” work, that financing would, ultimately, come out of the band’s pockets, anyway), CVB band members maintain regular day jobs and have families to support, just like everyone else.

CVB and Cracker frontman David Lowery (for those who might not be aware, a couple of CVB members formed alt-rock kings Cracker following CVB’s demise in 1990) explained the economic realities the band faces in a pretty heated exchange in the comments section of the blog

When criticized for the sponsorship exercise, Lowery outlined the band’s budget, and added that they were playing an additional two free shows for fans in the area who aren’t registered at the conference. Why? SXSW is usually for music industry-types; in the big picture, the band just wants to play for its fans: simple, really (no sponsorships were put up for sale for the free shows, by the way).

CVB violinist Jonathan Segel has been satirizing the whole SXSW experience with a series of animated short videos at Xtranormal, a movie-making website. Check ‘em out for yourself at the site; here’s a sample:

Jonathan Segel - CVB @ SXSW EXPOSED (2010)

If you were in the same situation, how would you handle it?

Cracker – Teen Angst (What The World Needs Now) (1992)
Posted by the band on their youtube channel