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Local band evolves with industry

Teresa James & the Rhythm Tramps use online fundraising tool in hopes of producing, marketing new CD

Posted: July 24, 2012 6:33 p.m.
Updated: July 24, 2012 6:33 p.m.
Teresa James, lead singer, performs with her band, Teresa James & the Rhythm Tramps.  Teresa James, lead singer, performs with her band, Teresa James & the Rhythm Tramps. 
Teresa James, lead singer, performs with her band, Teresa James & the Rhythm Tramps. 

When blues singer Teresa James first entered the music business, it was hard to get heard without having a record deal in hand, she said.

But rapid changes in the music industry have made it so artists are no longer dependent on record label deals and more commonly produce and distribute their own music.

Santa Clarita blues band, Teresa James & the Rhythm Tramps, has found increasing success over the years — the group’s music is aired on the satellite radio channel Bluesville and they tour nationally and internationally.
However, the road to building name recognition and a broad fan base hasn’t been cheap. James said she thinks she, and her husband and bandmate Terry Wilson, might still be paying off some credit card charges from their very first CD.

So the blues band has now turned to crowdfunding resource Kickstarter to finance its eighth CD, “Come on Home.” The band raised money for its last CD in a similar fashion.

“We just contacted our fan base and offered them T-shirts and to be part of our production team,” James said.

“With Kickstarter, it makes it much simpler to keep it organized and reach a much broader base.”

The band’s goal is to raise $20,000 to cover production costs for creating the masters, graphics and manufacturing the CDs, which amount to roughly half of that amount.

The balance of the money raised is budgeted for marketing, advertising and promotions, James said. While marketing is a lot easier today, she said, the group can only go so far without some kind of a budget.

Raising funds
Some $2 billion is expected to be raised through crowdfunding in 2012, experts said.
Kickstarter, an online crowd-based funding platform, helps people raise money for projects in the music, film, art, technology, design, food, publishing and other creative fields.

But, Teresa James & the Rhythm Tramps CD project will only be funded if at least $20,000 is pledged by midnight PST on Aug. 5. The Kickstarter platform is based on 30-day campaigns.

Entrepreneurs and founders of creative projects pay Kickstarter a 5 percent fee — only if the project is successfully funded — and fees of 3 to 5 percent to Amazon for processing credit card charges.
Investors and music fans alike can help the blues band meet its goal by pledging as little as $1, but incentives are built in to reward those who give more to help the band meet its goal.

Donors, depending on how much they give, receive any number of perks from autographed CDs to VIP treatment at one of the band’s live concerts to private in-home concerts by James, the lead singer, or the band. The band has offered 14 investor levels to honor those backers who help the band meet its goal.

“We’re hoping to hire publicists in places around the country who know who we are to get the word out on the newest CD,” James said. “We also want a promoter to work the radio.”

Band members say they hope their Kickstarter campaign also helps them ramp up the touring part of their music career upon the release of their next CD.

As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, the blues band had raised $7,797 from 93 backers and had 12 days to reach the fundraising goal.

Back on the road
James and husband Wilson moved to Santa Clarita in 1991 and said the area was a great place to raise their kids.

“It was as close to how we grow up back in Texas as you could be to raise your kids and still work in L.A. and Hollywood,” James said.

The couple managed to make a living and support their family, but in order to be really successful artists they needed to get out on tour. Now that their children are grown and out of the house, Teresa James & the Rhythm

Tramps has begun going out on the road more frequently.

“We just got back from a weekend in Norway,” James said. “It was great. They love the blues.”

The blues band is also scheduled to go out again on blues rock singer Delbert McClinton’s cruise tour in January. And it’s received plenty of air play on Bluesville. Bill Wax, a disc jockey, has been a big supporter of the band and has helped them gain a broader notoriety, James said.

“I’m really excited about this CD,” she said. “It’s the perfect record and perfect songs. We’ve been working on this CD for so long; it’s got amazing songs.”


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