Local Musician Asks Fans to Help Fund His Album
Kent State grad David Ullman hopes to produce his second album through "crowdfunding"
The Cleveland Heights resident is part of a growing number of artists who are asking their followers for money to help support their work.
“For me, it’s a little like a pre-order … You’re pre-ordering something and making it possible for that thing to exist,” said Ullman, 32.
Two well-known sites that serve as platforms for what’s called “crowdfunding” are Kickstarter and RocketHub, and Ullman uses the latter. "Creatives" who use the site get 92 percent of the donations, and the rest is used to pay for credit card transactions and other fees.
Instead of simply asking for money, Ullman provides a reward at every level, whether fans donate $5 or $150. Incentives include free albums and even a bright green ukulele.
But that’s the catch — Ullman has to meet his goal of $5,000 in order to pay for one of his prizes — a copy of his latest album a month in advance. And he’s not sure what he’ll do if he doesn’t get there.
He's recorded most of the album, but he still needs to pay for the mixing and manufacturing.
So far, 63 people, or “fuelers” have contributed $2,300 (at the time this article published). He has six days left.
“I feel very uncomfortable about the commerce of it. But the experience of the giving and getting part I like,” said Ullman, a Kent State grad. He interacts with fans via social media and by adding fresh content like portions of new songs on video on his website. “It’s been very stressful because of the fundraising aspect of it, but the interaction and reconnecting with people has been a joy.”
Ullman is hoping for a big crowd at his gig Wednesday night at Beachland Tavern, 15711 Waterloo Road, with The Giggitys. Tickets are $6 for the fundraising show. Doors open at 7 p.m.
“You can’t just be a musician, you have to be a marketer … Record companies aren’t hungry to develop new talent,” he said. “No one is in the business of gambling anymore.”
Ullman, who describes his music as “equal parts aggressive folk rock and intimate, introspective ballads,” named his second album “Light the Dark.”
His first album, “Dog Days,” released in 2008, chronicled the painful divorce he went through in his early 20s.
“I came back Christmas Eve, spent a year living in my parents’ basement … that album was definitely a healing thing for me,” he said. “I think creating things from a painful place is what I usually do."
His last album was about a past relationship. This one is about his relationship with himself.
“It refers to shining a light on those parts of myself that are hard to look at and confronting the things about myself that I find challenging.”
Ullman has found happiness again. He recently tied the knot with Susie Smalling. But in a 10-day span after their wedding, their dog died and she moved out of the state temporarily for an opportunity she couldn’t turn down.
So, as he normally does, the newlywed wrote a song about it that he plans to perform at Beachland called “Bad Country Song.”
To learn more about Ullman and his project, visit his site on RocketHub.