Toronto-band the Rural Alberta Advantage – previewed in this issue of the prairie dog – are a band with a lot of label support, from Paper Bag Records in Canada to Saddle Creek down in the States. Still, when they decided to release a seven-inch single earlier this year, they used Kickstarter.

I was curious, because Kickstarter is one of these things that I always hear about but have never talked to anyone who has actually used it. As drummer Paul Banwatt told me, the RAA discovered the website through Yancey Strickler. Strickler had previously helped the band out with their first distribution deal with eMusic, a digital music retailer.

“When he said he was starting this thing called Kickstarter, we were like, ‘Yeah, we’re totally all over it,’” says Banwatt. “It’s really taken off. It’s amazing. I mean, how people have managed to do incredible things and creative things that I don’t think they would’ve been able to do otherwise.”

Kickstarter is a website where artists can post projects and can ask for conditional funding – the condition being that the full amount of their project must be committed before any money changes hands. This way, a band can say how much they need to complete a single, and then fans can commit money to the cause. Once they reach their goal, the band get the cash. If they don’t reach their goal, everyone holds onto their money.

Strickler encouraging the band to use the service had more tangible effects for the RAA than getting a single pressed, though, according to Banwatt.

“He was like, ‘Just put something, you know, “out there”. Put up that you’ll play a show anywhere for $3,000 towards your goal.’ And we were like, ‘OK,’ and next think we know, somebody bought it, and we’re going to play a show in Austin.”

The support they’ve received from fans heartens Banwatt.

“It’s really cool, especially at a time when it’s harder and harder to sell your music. It’s nice with Kickstarter that people aren’t even necessarily paying for the final product – they’re paying for the fact that it should happen, you know what I mean? They’re promoting just the fact that you should do something, that making music is a laudable goal and worth putting money towards.”