Legacy Five launches Kickstarter Campaign

Over the last two years, a number of Southern Gospel artists have launched and completed successful Kickstarter campaigns. Artists like the Ball Brothers, Union Street, the Browders, and Steve Ladd successfully funded albums through Kickstarter campaigns. But even with these four successful campaigns, Kickstarter has been a cutting-edge tool for up-and-coming artists in this genre.

As of this week, it’s relatively safe to call Kickstarter mainstream. Legacy Five launched this Kickstarter campaign to fund their upcoming, Lari Goss-produced album. Here’s how they explain it, in their own words:

Normally, record companies fund an artist’s recordings, but this time, we are responsible for finding the funding ourselves.

Recently, someone told us about kickstarter. When we checked it out, we thought this would be a great way of involving our friends in the process of making our new recording a reality. You have the opportunity to partner with us and be a very real part of our new CD.

We’ve been busy for the past several months selecting songs for this new project. We have found 11 great new songs. We have chosen legendary gospel music producer Lari Goss to produce, arrange and orchestrate this CD. The studio and the musicians are ready to go. We only need one more piece of the puzzle….YOU!

Legacy Five has recorded with Daywind for a decade. It’s not clear from the description above whether this will be a completely independent release, or whether Daywind will distribute it despite not funding it. Either way, just a couple of days into the project, the project is already around 1/3 of the way funded, with a healthy 73 contributors.

There has been some question over whether Kickstarter campaigns are a tool that will only be successful for an up-and-coming group either recording their first album or recording their first national-quality release. Some have wondered whether this can be a method used release after release, by groups that are already well established. Legacy Five’s success so far puts them well on pace for hitting their goal, and would seem to indicate that the answer is yes.

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42 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. I, too, wondered if this campaign said anything about L5’s future with Daywind. I think this sounds pretty cool, and it is interesting to see the “big names” now utilizing it.

  2. The possibility remains of some kind of relationship to continue between Daywind and Legacy Five, as the Browders’ project ended up being released on Daywind.

    Can I ask how many readers have participated in any of the Kickstarter campaigns mentioned above? And if you participated, did you receive all the rewards that were listed? I have participated in two of the above and received all the rewards in one of them.

    • I participated in the Ball Brothers’ Kickstarter, and received all of the rewards promised for my level. (Of course, I didn’t receive the awards promised for the levels I didn’t select.)

      I’ve also signed up for this one, and I’m confident I’ll receive all the rewards for this one, too – Legacy Five is so established and reliable that I don’t think there’s any risk there.

      • Daniel,

        On the Ball Brothers did you do the level for the cd with the extra track? If you did what was the bonus track?

      • It’s been so long that I frankly don’t remember – sorry!

  3. I’m not sure how I feel about a Kickstarter campaign for an established artist like this.

    • Well, if their label won’t fund it, and the fans want to, I’m all for the fans doing it. Nobody’s obligated to take part. Only fans who want to take part, take part. And despite being a journalist, I’m a fan, too, and I figured I may as well contribute.

      • How does being a journalist factor in? Not sure I understand….

      • Not everyone who writes about Legacy Five necessarily personally loves their music. I do.

    • Usually the lower donation gets you a CD, for the same price as you would buy a CD anyway. For the “higher benefits,” it’s like you’re getting an opportunity to pay for a cool experience or item that you normally wouldn’t have the opportunity for.

  4. I wouldn’t think that because an established group uses a new source of funding indicates anything about leaving a record company. Funding projects are only a part of the work a record company does for their artists.

    Here is another thought, it could be funding for just a portion of the project.

    • Agreed, actually; without naming any specific names, I have heard a number of groups mention the costs of a Lari Goss-produced project, and every time I’ve heard a number mentioned, it has been well over $25,000.

  5. I’ve debated about using it for an upcoming project and probably will. I don’t see it strictly as a fundraising tool, but another social media tool as well. It allows fan involvement/interaction on a deeper level than just buying a CD after it’s done. Fans can be a part of the whole process and feel that they are an integral part.

  6. I think this is actually pretty cool. How many opportunities do you get to do some of the things offered with the mid-level ($250-500) donations?

  7. But who owns the master-and is due the royalties ??

    • If Legacy Five pays for the recording, it would be a fairly safe guess that they would own the master. Even if the recording is ultimately distributed by Daywind and has the Daywind logo on it, if they’ve paid for it, they probably own it.

  8. This is a whole new thing for me,but I am already on board.I think it is an exciting way to be part of this bigger project.Looking forward to watching the numbers go up.

  9. I have backed four or five kickstarters the past few years, but this is one I NEVER dreamed of seeing. This news took me by surprise, and like a lot of you wonder what this means record label wise. I have to say, I definitely will be backing.

  10. In response to Brandon Coomer’s question, I have personally funded the Union Street, Browders, and Ladd projexts. I was not aware of the Ball Brothers project. There are also other projects I backed.. Cheri Keaggy & Carman, to name a few. I have always received the items that were a part of the level that I backed. I had never even heard of Union Street when I backed them, but had heard of some of the people, and wanted to back a Christian project. A few weeks later, I was able to meet the group at NQC, so it was pretty cool to say “Hey, I backed you on Kickstarter”. I wish there were a way to find out about the projects on Kickstarter. Mostly I see a facebook post and that alerts me to the need. There have been some projects that I have backed that have not been successful – however, your financial obligations are voided if funding is not successful. I am excited about the Legacy Five project. I would love to have pizza on the bus with them, but since they are rarely in the NJ area, that level would be difficult. I would highly recommend supporting the artists. It may encourage other lesser known artists to start a project. Who knows, you may just be backing the next new “superstar”. By the way, I am aware of another artist who is considering a Kickstarter project, but since that artist has not publically released any details about the project, I am hesitant that artist’s name. If/when the artist starts the project, I will let Daniel know.

  11. I believe the different levels and items (gifts) included make this an awesome oppurtunity. If this program did not include those perks and special items, and it was just a “fundraiser” I would not be as inlclined to particpate. I already spend quite a bit on CD’s, I-tunes, concert tickets etc each year.

  12. I hope this works out for them, but is anybody besides me concerned about the underlying message – that Daywind (or other) doesn’t have the confidence in recouping an investment in one of the more established groups in SG? There could be other factors, of course, but this to me raises yet another question around the viability/sustainability of SG in today’s market. If this becomes the norm and we still get quality product, then so be it and kudos for creative funding – but I still find it a little disturbing that a group of L5’s stature had a record company tell them “fund it yourself, boys”…

    • I’m not as concerned as one might think I would be. I’m the last one who wants to see Southern Gospel decline in the slightest, but record labels putting smaller budgets into projects is an industry-wide trend – and by industry, I don’t mean Southern Gospel industry here, but Christian music industry and probably overall music industry. I was reading an article on Steven Curtis Chapman’s new release the other day; for those who don’t know, he is the most awarded artist of all time in Christian music, with more Dove Awards and #1 hit plaques than he could possibly have space to store anywhere in his house, no matter how big his house is. He commented that he recorded this new release with much less studio time than he was accustomed to – that the sessions to record the tracks were measured in days instead of (presumably) weeks. I say that to say this: It is one thing for a label to recoup a more basic release with cheap keyboard strings, and another thing entirely for a label to think they could sell enough to recoup a Lari Goss release.

      • Stephen Curtis Chapman will be headlining at Carnegie Hall in New York City on Saturday, Feburary 8th. He will be backed by an 80 piece orchestra and 200 voice chior. It would be amazing if an event like that could be recorded. By the way, I have been at concerts where they have introduced Brian Free as the most awarded artist in Gospel music. That might make an interesting blog… a top ten list of awarded artists. But then again, hopefully, the artists are not doing this for the accolades of man!

  13. As an owner I can see where a kickstarter program would be a huge relief concerning cash flow. Cash flow is the greatest financial concern for many groups. To remove the capital of $25K to $60K plus being tied up would be a significant help to many I’m sure.

  14. Jason W. I have to say I agree with you 100%. I think KickStarter is a great program. I am sure in the very near
    future we will see other major SG groups try this same concept. I don’t see any difference in helping fund a CD
    project for a group, or helping them purchase a new bus, or pay for repairs for the bus, or anything else they need
    funding for. We have all seen at one time or another on a lot of SG groups web sites, request for funding of some sort.
    It takes $$ to make the tires spin down the road and it takes $$ to make a CD to spin in the player.

  15. If you are going to do it be first….not sure how many kickstarts a family has in their financial lifetime to a large degree…what do you do when your three favorites groups are doing campaigns…
    Well played L5….well played

    • It depends on the level at which you’re contributing. For all the ones I’ve participated in, I’ve contributed in the neighborhood of $25; that’s more sustainable.

    • Food for thought, folks……Is the Lord more pleased with spending 25k on a project than spending 10k ? What is the motive….who are we trying to impress? Usually the cash flow dictates the budget, at least in my business….. Agreed, we should always give our best for the Lord, but, how many more folks can we reach with a 25k project, than a 10k project…….

      • I believe that we please the Lord when we take the gifts He gives us and strive for excellence in the area for which He has gifted us and to which He has called us.

        There’s a side discussion worth incorporating here: Expanding Southern Gospel’s reach to a new generation and new audiences. If we take, on the one hand, a 10k project with professionally recorded piano, guitars, and percussion, but cheap keyboard-imitation strings and brass, or, on the other hand, a 25k project with all instruments professionally recorded, including live strings and brass, which project will be of a quality that will bring in more new fans to the genre in general and the artist in particular?

      • Agreed, excellence should be paramount, however, how many ears of this “new audience” that we’re trying to attract are trained enough to discern between quality sampled strings, and live strings ? And if so, does the live strings aspect detract from the message we’re trying to convey through the song? I suppose the real question is should the artist rely on solicited contributions from “friends” to promote their ministry, or simply save the cash necessary to undertake such an expensive proposition. An earlier comment referred to return on investment….and Michael correctly stated cash flow is vital to success, so, why not just save the money, or seek investors who expect a return on capital invested to fund an elaborate recording. The business world does it every day…… I also submit that, to quote Dave Ramsey of Financial Peace University ….”when you sit down across the table from those to whom you owe a debt, the food tastes different”

      • How many potential SG fans can tell the difference between keyboard strings and Lari Goss arrangements? Quite a few, I think – enough to make a difference.

        Do the live strings distract from the message of the song? I rather doubt it. I think keyboard strings are far more likely to distract from the message of the song.

        I know that Dave Ramsey is opposed to debt. I, too, am likely to take whatever steps reasonably possible, personally, to avoid getting into debt. But here’s the irony: L5’s Kickstarter is likely to enable them to make the recording without putting them into debt.

        At every level, fans are being told exactly what they will receive. Participation is completely voluntary; nobody is being forced to contribute. If they deliver the rewards, and I have every expectation they will, then they will have given each fan that contributed exactly what the fan signed up to receive.

  16. We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one, my friend…..engaging conversation, though. If L5 were to raise the entire cost of the project through donations in this venture would they not be “indebted” to those who gave? As long as you don’t pay your way in life, you must gain your means from others.
    If one agrees the fans that we’re trying to attract to this music will only be attracted through a Lari Goss arrangement of strings, can’t one then deduce that the Primitive Quartet must hire him on their next project? The point is not everyone has an ear for live, orchestrated,progressive string arrangements. And what percentage of those are going to remain fans of the music. Also does one then assume that the “regional” groups can never broaden their fan base without live strings and a 25k project? I would suggest to our readers that all it takes is one powerful, annointed, spirit filled song to reach those who are not yet fans of a particular group. If spending cash on a project were the magic bullet, then intelligent record company execs. would be spending……

    • Not everyone likes orchestrations. I’ll grant that. But that was never my point in the first place; my point is that if you’re going to do strings, our genre is best advanced when you do it right and pay for the real thing as opposed to having a cheap imitation.

      You mention the Primitive Quartet. Here’s the equivalent for a Primitive Quartet recording: Is our genre better advanced by a Primitive Quartet recording that has them playing all of their instruments for real, or by a recording that has live acoustic guitar, upright bass, and mandolin, but adds in the banjo, fiddle, and dobro through a keyboard imitation? I think the answer is relatively obvious, and illustrates the point I’m trying to make by the standards of another style.

      • Apples to oranges Daniel, my friend…the Primitives play their instruments live, while L5 enhances their performances with strings…regardless of style, overdoing it is just that, overdoing it…..again, just who are we trying to impress?….maybe each other

      • But the topic at hand isn’t the quality of live performances, but the quality of a recording. Are the instruments being recorded real or Memorex?

      • Apples to oranges: They’re both still fruit, and we can still have one overall discussion where we discuss if it’s the real, edible fruit or the plastic imitation for decoration. 🙂 (Besides, you were the one to bring the Primitives into the discussion as a point of comparison!)

        I can speak for myself here, and in so doing, I know that I have heard from many others with parallel stories: I grew up on CCM, and I thought (and think) that Steve Green is the all-time greatest vocalist CCM has ever seen. His 1980s recordings are the greatest recordings in the genre.

        My introduction to Southern Gospel was hearing the Cathedrals’ album High and Lifted Up in 2004. It was produced by Lari Goss. When I heard the orchestrations, specifically on “Death Has Died,” I thought, “Wow! This is every bit as good as Steve Green.”

        If the Cathedrals had used fake keyboard strings on the project, even then, I could have heard the difference. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if I would have heard the CD, thought, “That’s nice enough,” and never come back to hear a second Southern Gospel CD.

        In other words, without high-quality orchestrations and production quality, I would not have become a fan of Southern Gospel, and I wouldn’t be running this website today.

  17. Can’t win them all, Daniel. As “The Inspector” said, we will just have to agree to disagree. One of the beautiful things about the “public funding option” is that it is an option. Voluntary. Those who do not like the idea will not participate. Those who think it’s a fun and neat idea WILL participate. It’s not for everyone….and that’s ok.

    I’m actually more bothered by cloaks of anonymity when engaging in debate. Easy to criticize when you can remain anonymous. Oh well…..that’s all. 🙂

    • Most of the comments I’ve made have been based on that very thought: This is completely voluntary, and only those who want to participate will participate. Very well put!

  18. I think this a great idea! And yes, a group of L5’s caliber should be spending $25K+ for their albums. You can spend $10K as a part time group and nearly die from the initial cost. But when you’re selling 100 units every night, you’re stuff better sound good on the album and on stage. Is it overdone? Why don’t you ask Cold Play who augments their live performance with strings. Or Audio Adrenaline. Or Stephen Curtis Chapman. These mainstream artists, Christian and secular, have this “crazy” notion to produce a quality product that people want to hear and buy. And I want to hear my favorite SG artist doing the same. John Schlitt and John Elefante, of Kansas fame, have done this Kickstarter with great success. I have a feeling that L5 will see the same success. Why? Because people want to be a part of something great.

  19. Let me begin by saying that I meant no offense to anyone by sharing this point of view. My anonymity has nothing to do with sharing the ideals I represent, and I would be happy to sit down over a cup of coffee and discuss those ideals with anyone who provides our moderator with a contact number.
    There are millions of people in America who are living debt free lives today. Those people made a conscious decision to follow certain lifestyle principals that direct one to that end. I am one of them. My purpose for beginning this debate was to ask the question if spending an extra amount of money on a project, thus delaying the payback, made the additional expenditure make sense from a business standpoint. To me, it does not. To others it does. I will continue to follow those principals, work hard, save, and invest wisely, and give to the work of the Lord as I prayerfully see fit. May God bless each of you as you continue on with the ministry to which you are called. To quote Dave Ramsey again….as for me, I will live now like no one else, so later I can live like no one else. Romans 13:8

  20. The nice thing about crowd funding is that you aren’t in-debted to anyone and incur no debt. It’s an atmosphere of good will. People can voluntarily support what they wish. And as far as crowd funding is concerned Southern Gospel Music can benefit tremendously and by being supported in this manner can continue to grow. It will also allow emerging, part-time and horizon artists to grow as well by growing and tapping into their fan base, large or small.

    The issue of “spending $25k” on a project versus what kind of quality of a production is necessary or who a group is trying to impress- to me is an obvious one. The argument is that the message is the same regardless of investment – but in addition to the message there is a need to produce a quality product. That takes personnel, time, talent, skill, vision, experience, a good set of ears and on and on…and the better of that which you you get – obviously like anything else in life the more it will cost. You have to decide what your objectives are with a product. If your sales don’t merit that investment -unless you’re doing it for personal reasons- than it probably isn’t for you. If you can afford it for any reason – it’s worth every penny. The money is relative.

    Ultimately Southern Gospel Music fans want to be impressed. And groups should work to that end. At the end of the day – groups want to produce quality product and that takes a significant investment – whether $10k or $25k or more. It’s doesn’t have to be about strings or who is doing it necessarily.

    I think there is some vanity to it – but there’s nothing wrong with being proud of what you can accomplish when your heart is in the right place.

    I think this whole discussion and the light being put on crowd/angel funding for -not just southern gospel music projects – but any SGM endeavor (whether live concerts, fuel buying a bus (whatever your need)) is a good thing. It classes up begging for money in a structured, legit format. The social media aspect of it is exciting as well.

    I’m not debating any one else’s opinion or feelings about any of this. I accept their right to feel differently. I just felt the need to express mine.

    Have a GREAT day!

    • Great points, all around. Like you said, it’s not begging; the group delivers to the fan something that fan wants in exchange for that fan’s money.