Since Kickstarter launched less than four years ago, the “crowdfunding” site has become as ubiquitous as the hipster mustache. Who doesn't know a musician, aspiring filmmaker or underwater basket weaver who has concocted a clever video beseeching friends, family and perfect strangers to pony up some cash for their latest project?
One such start-up is IAMEVE. Echo Park-based artist and songwriter Tiff Randol created a campaign to fund the making of the video for the first single from her forthcoming album Everything Nothing. Little did she know it would be blatantly spoofed by Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein on their uber-popular IFC comedy sketch series Portlandia.
In the sketch, Brownstein (also known for her turns in Sleater-Kinney and Wild Flag) dons a red wig that resembles Randol's auburn locks and an almost identical outfit, while Armisen pretends to be a dispassionate video director who stares off into space. It's a hilarious send-up. How did IAMEVE end up as the spoof-ee?
“Tiffany is a friend of mine and I've played music with her a few times over the years,” explains Armisen. “She sent me a link to her Kickstarter video, and I loved how optimistic it was. As I started looking at other Kickstarter pitches, I saw a lot of that same quality — total optimism. We tried to recreate that for our piece.”
The Portlandia sketch (below) shows the singer's father watching the plea from his office. By the end, Dad relents and writes a $25,000 check to his daughter with the note, “Please call your mom sometime.”
“I think it's hilarious,” Randol says. “Fred is insanely funny. I liked the storyline of the father and how he's watching it and scrolling past it and at the end he's like, 'Here's $25,000, now call your mother.' I wish that part of it were true!”
Randol and Armisen agree that platforms like Kickstarter and PledgeMusic provide valuable opportunities for musicians to fund their projects as the music industry continues to struggle and major label deals have gone the way of the dodo bird.
“I think it's an honest, direct thing to do,” says Armisen. Randol adds: “They make it fun and easy and comfortable for people to support music. It's not easy to ask people for help and making a record is expensive. But this makes people feel they're a part of creating something.”
Randol is putting the finishing touches on the Kickstarter-funded IAMEVE video for “Throw Me A Line,” and plans to debut it at the end of month on her website.