Sometimes in the cash-strapped world of independent music, you have to get creative when it comes to putting out an album. In the case of D.C.-based Indie operatives Shane Hines and the Trance, that meant selling the album before it was even written.
Putting an idea by the band’s manager, Michele Samuel, into action, the band created TeamTrance.com, an original Web site dedicated to fundraising for the band’s new release, The Glory Journal. On the site, the band asked for help – namely cash in advance – in order to record the album. In return, Hines and bandmate Brian “Thumbs” Keating, offered a variety of goods in accordance with the level of giving. For $30, you could get an unreleased demo of three acoustic songs. For $250 you could get two one-hour guitar lessons with Thumbs and Shane, a former guitar teacher at Jammin’ Java. Double that amount and Shane and Thumbs would cook dinner at your house. Five-thousand dollars hired the pair to join you in the studio to record your own song. Ten thousand got you a new Gibson guitar and your own personal “Guitar Hero” moment – a cameo in one of the band’s live gigs. Or if, you just wanted to pre-order the EP, they asked for $15.
In terms of the return on investment, the goods you received rarely measured up to the monetary value of the donation … but donors also knew they were funding the next album by one of their favorite bands. And so, money came streaming in from across the U.S., from Washington to Florida to Vegas to West Virginia.
All told, to date, Shane Hines and the Trance has raised over $34,000.
It’s almost staggering to hear. Consider that most fundraising drives are attached to good causes like curing cancer or generate sympathetic donations because they are carried out by a friend’s child selling cookies or wrapping paper. These folks that chipped in for the new album just wanted to hear Hines and Thumbs do their day job.
“I am totally humbled by it,” Hines says. “I honestly don’t know what to say. We had folks who gave enough for guitar lessons and told us just to forget about them and just keep the money.”
Those that bought in were rewarded with a seven-track EP stamped with SH&T’s signature sound. The Glory Journal, blasts off with Hines’ soaring vocals on relatable opener “Way Up” before making a Southern course correction with track five, “Boy.” Even more than usual, the slide guitar work complements the catchy hooks Hines became known for on acclaimed LP Zoe.
A self-professed lover of great guitar sounds, Hines makes the most of the seven tracks, going away from the heavy-fuzz feel that surrounded many of the band’s previous rock compositions. Instead they let the strings speak for themselves, shining through the distortion. There’s still plenty of crunch though, such as on the Green Day-esque “The Broken Breaking Down,” a hard-hitting counterpoint to ballads like “We Can Never Be” and acoustic end-piece “What A Beautiful Day.”
Despite the added expectations leveled by advanced funding, Hines says he didn’t feel any more pressure than usual in crafting the record.
“We always felt that we would make a great album,” Hines says. “So we just wanted to make sure the money was spent correctly, the way we said it would be.”
Beyond the opinions of review writers, if “investors” are looking for proof their money was well spent, they should look no further than a panel of judges that included Fergie, Grateful Dead founding member Bob Weir and music connoisseur Matt Pinfield who named “Way Up” a finalist for the 2008 John Lennon Songwriting Contest.
Suddenly that return on investment looks pretty good, doesn’t it?
• The Glory Journal is available on iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby. For more on Shane Hines & The Trance, visit shanehines.com or teamtrance.com.