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Jill Sobule: With A Little Help From Her Fans

Singer Jill Sobule performs as part of the Festival of Freedom Downtown Seder at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City.
Peter Kramer
Getty Images
Singer Jill Sobule performs as part of the Festival of Freedom Downtown Seder at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City.

When a record label drops a musician, that's often the end of the road. No more CDs, no more tour support — and, in many cases, no more career. Jill Sobule, however, beat the system.

She's been dropped by two major labels and watched helplessly as both of the indie labels she signed with went bankrupt. But instead of getting back on the record-label carousel, Sobule turned to the people she knew she could count on the most: her fans. She managed to raise close to $89,000 to fund the production of her new album, California Years.

How did she do it? Sobule created a tiered system that rewards fans based on how much money they were willing to donate. The levels were:

$10: Free digital download of album

$50: Advance copy of CD and acknowledgement in liner notes

$100: Copy of CD, plus T-shirt saying you're a junior executive on the album

$200: Free admission to all Sobule shows that year

$1,000: Sobule will write your theme song

$5,000: Sobule will play a show at your house

$10,000: You get to sing on the album or play the cowbell if desired

One fan did donate $10,000, and she sings on the track "Mexican Pharmacy."

In addition, Sobule has penned a song just for NPR. To celebrate the 101th day of 2009, we asked her to write us a song about the number 101. The result, "Philosophy 101," tells the story of Sobule's first philosophy class in college.

To visit Jill's official website, click here.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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