Bay Area-based band the Limousines are a true product of the times, with members Eric Victorino and Giovanni Giusti meeting online after being digitally introduced by a mutual friend. Trading ideas over the internet, they quickly developed a musical kinship that would lead to the engaging electro-rock song “Very Busy People,” which despite being an independent release, was heavily supported by San Francisco radio station Live 105 and Sirius XM satellite radio.
After successfully releasing the Scrapbook EP independently, the duo made the decision to sign with a record label to hopefully further the band’s burgeoning career.
“We signed because we felt like at the time that we’d taken the band as far as we knew how on our own,” Victorino said from Atlanta, where the Limousines were scheduled to DJ an after-party during the Midtown Music Festival. “We didn’t know how to get our CDs in stores and out to Europe. So it was pretty shocking that within about a month of signing the deal, they signed like seven more bands, they fired half their staff, including the licensing department that we liked, and they also switched to a major label for distribution. They turned into exactly what we didn’t want to be signed to. We had buyer’s remorse pretty quickly.”
While the band’s lawyer was able to get the Limousines out of their deal after a year, the band was still able to release their debut album, Get Sharp, which featured the hit “Internet Killed the Video Star,” which came with a zombie-themed video that’s been viewed over a million times on YouTube.
So when it came time for the Limousines to start making their second album, Hush, instead of turning to yet another record label and potentially disastrous situation, the band turned to their diehard fan base for support, turning to crowdfunding website Kickstarter as the means for fans to pledge various amounts of money to help cover the band’s costs. People who pledge financial support receive various premiums depending on the contribution amount, ranging from having your name listed in the CD booklet at $25 to a “full blown private concert” at your house for $7500 or more, including requested cover songs.
“The Amanda Palmer thing was an inspiration just because to see her make that much money was kind of awesome,” Victorino recalled of Palmer’s already-legendary campaign on Kickstarter that generated $1.2 million to help fund her most recent release, Theatre Is Evil. “Just knowing that she’s not Lady Gaga or Katy Perry, but a relative unknown who was able to generate that kind of money was enticing to us.
“The biggest inspiration on Kickstarter for us was Black Moth Super Rainbow, who is a pretty small, kind of relatively unknown group, and they raised $100,000 like that,” Victorino continued. “We just knew that whatever our goal was, we’d be able to hit it. We just set it for the absolute bare minimum of $30,000, which is enough to finish recording it and produce lots of CDs and vinyl copies.”
With just a few days still left of the Kickstarter campaign, the Limousines have already surpassed their goal, raising more than $55,000 in fan donations.
“We’ve always considered ourselves pretty intimate with our fans,” he added. “But this thing has been completely different. To have someone say, ‘This lyric means so much to me, and I want it handwritten by you and framed.’ Just to hear why it’s so important to them and then to get started on it is very special. Not only are they helping this band get its freedom back, but we’re giving them stuff we wouldn’t have otherwise thought of. This whole process has been pretty eye-opening for us.”
–Scott T. Sterling, CBS Local