Musicians Find Own Way as Labels Struggle

Singer Amy Correia has made two critically acclaimed albums, but for her next record she's changing her tune and turning to her fans online for donations. Here she's seen in the Saturday, Dec. 19, 2009, broadcast of the "CBS Evening News."
Singer Amy Correia has made two critically acclaimed albums, but for her next record she's changing her tune, reports CBS News Business Correspondent Anthony Mason.

"I'm making this hopefully with the help of fans as opposed to a record label," Correia told an audience one night.

In the brutal shakeout in the music business, Correia, like so many artists, was dropped by her label. So the 41-year-old singer turned to her most important asset: her fans.

"They're my lifeblood," Correia told Mason. "They are the people that are going to make or break me."

In April, she posted a fundraising appeal on her Web site, sent out an e-mail to her several thousand fans and waited.

It's a strategy that paid off for Jill Sobule.

In 1995, her song "I Kissed a Girl" was an MTV hit. But her last two record labels went belly up. So Sobule set up a Web site to raise $75,000.

"I think I got it within six weeks," Souble told Mason.

Most came in small gifts like one from a donor who wrote:

"'I'm really not a fan of your music, but I think this is a great new model so I'm giving you $50,'" Souble told Mason before referring to a list she provided her fans of what they would receive for their donation. "As a joke - I didn't think I'd really get it - but I had '$10,000 you sing on my record.'"

But Jill Pottinger, a software designer from San Francisco, had some extra money after selling her house.

"I could've spent the money on a nice holiday," Pottinger told Mason. "I could have spent the money on a car. I chose to spend it on Jill."

And, after signing that $10,000 check, she proved to be a pretty good singer.

Sobule's album "California Years" was released in April and features Pottinger singing some lyrics.

"I think it's gotten the best reviews of any of my records," Souble told Mason.

For Correia, the checks started coming in to her father's barbershop in Lakeville, Mass., while she was on tour.

"Please take this as a vote of confidence in your great music," one donor wrote to Correia.

She's already raised nearly $30,000, enough to record the album. With a little more help, she plans to release it on Apple's iTunes early next year.

"Will you get a special satisfaction from having done this with your fans?" Mason asked Correia.

"Oh yeah, It's a new lease on life," Correia said.

Correia's calling her new record "You Go Your Way." With help from her fans, she has.

  • Anthony Mason

    CBS News senior business and economics correspondent; Co-host, "CBS This Morning: Saturday"