Meredith Graves joins Kickstarter as their Director of Music starting today. Meredith embodies a spirit of creative independence at the core of Kickstarter. She’s a talented writer who explores music, language, and identity for publications including Pitchfork, SSENSE, and i-D. She’s the founder and frontwoman behind the hardcore punk band Perfect Pussy. She established the independent record label and book publisher Honor Press. And most recently she was an anchor and journalist for MTV News, where she discussed rank-choice voting and Album Generic Flipper with Krist Novoselic, freestyled with Migos, and accidentally became a meme after a particularly Chance encounter with Beyoncé.
People have funded more music projects than any other category on Kickstarter — 27,488 albums, performances, independent venues, archival re-releases, and experimental events that span genres and geographies. This is a pretty great move, and watch for Kickstarter and Meredith support fellow creators who will build on that. In her own words:
Every day, all over the world, brilliant shit isn’t getting made because nobody has the money.
That which is not appropriately supported, historically, falls. Structures both concrete and theoretical rely on institutional backing as a form of loaned power. A band, a social initiative, an ideology, a house: not one can get off the ground without a strong foundation. One person’s success does not mean your failure — but this being true doesn’t make it fair that ten or fifteen major label artists receive a disproportionate amount of the money and resources available to the industry.
We the artists have, for too long, been on the wrong side of that divide. A lack of resources, perceived or actual, is the first and largest stumbling block most people encounter on their journey to rock-and-roll enlightenment. We know deep down in our bones that we could open that all-ages show space or community studio, record that life-changing anthem, compile and exhibit the whole histories of regional scenes — if only we had the money, time, support, resources. We lose sleep over internal conflicts like this, sleep we need in between band practices and dishwashing shifts, tired already but unwilling to close our eyes against the possibility of someday —
— all because music matters.
The most powerful institutions in the world are proposing more direct threats than ever toward our ability to speak and create freely. This honestly feels dangerous: the world is being deprived of the brilliance of billions, art that could theoretically affect future generations in the same way we stay fixed on Sappho, Virginia Woolf, Alice Coltrane.
Directly funding art is a display of public conscience: putting a few bucks toward the transformation of a historic property into a public center for music and healing, the archiving of a marginal composer’s body of work that may otherwise be lost to time, or a high school hardcore band’s first tour is one way to vote for a sort of continued normalcy. It’s doing your part to ensure beyond a reasonable doubt that, come what may, the choirs will keep singing, the punks will keep photocopying, and we will continue to live in a world more beautiful because there is jazz in it.
Likewise, as we finally begin the arduous process of skimming the scum from atop our societal talent pool, directly funding artists and creative projects is one way to assure that resources remain in the hands of People Who Aren’t Garbage. Even the worst of the worst tend to fall hard without institutional support. Cooperatively organizing around musicians and artists who represent the kind of behavior we’d like to see exhibited in the world is one thing; surrounding a castle of enemies and starving them out, another. Pulling resources is a counter-revolutionary tactic, just as much as providing resources determines who gets to create, who is seen, who is helped, who survives.
This is as much about helping new, unsigned artists develop a base network of care and support as it is about funding institutions and artists who have worked tirelessly for decades so they can continue to operate freely and without interference: a stable model that, if we start hashing it out now, will only benefit us when it turns out to be what we want in the future.
I’m here to help figure out new ways to assure that all of us, no matter where we are on our journey as musicians, feel more-or-less amazing every day we get up and create, sing, compose, bawl, shred, whatever it looks like when we allow ourselves to create freely. To reinforce continually the importance of the arts; to prove there’s still meaning and possibility in a cold world, to show the powers that be how little they can do to stop us from realizing our dreams.
We start with, and amongst, ourselves — we are figuring this out together. I’m so honored to be joining you here in this emergent world, bursting at the seams with song, with more than enough room left over to accommodate every single one of our dreams.