Interview: Jo Dee Messina On the Power of Kickstarter and New Album ‘Me’
By Annie Reuter
When Jo Dee Messina used Kickstarter to fund her latest album, Me, she never thought her job would be to explain what the crowd-funding platform is. She didn’t find many people in the country music sphere who were familiar with the crowd-fundraising platform, which caused some issues early on.
“I spent the first two weeks dodging bullets,” Messina told Radio.com. “People were asking me, ‘What are you doing, asking for money?’ So I had to simplify it and figure out a way to say, ‘You get something from this. You donate, you get something from every level. You can get a single download, or it could be me playing in your backyard. Or coming to cook you dinner. Or us going for a three-mile run together.’ Every dollar that was donated, somebody got something. I had to simplify it and say, ‘Look, I’m having a yard sale, you buy stuff you normally can’t buy, and with that money I’m going to make a record.'”
And it worked: Messina raised over $120,000 last June for her project.
The country hit-maker first rose to fame in the ’90s thanks to her powerhouse singles “Heads Carolina, Tails California,” “I’m Alright” and “My Give a Damn’s Busted,” all of which reached the Top 5. She was awarded Top New Female Vocalist at the ACM Awards in 1998, and went on to enjoy a string of hits well into the mid-’00s.
Messina spoke with Radio.com recently about her Kickstarter campaign, her first full album in nearly a decade and first-ever independent release. She credits her 21-year-old cousin, Alex Preston, an independent singer-songwriter and Top 3 finalist on Season 13 of American Idol, for convincing her.
Much like Kickstarter, Messina looked to her fans for advice on songs to make the album. Using Facebook, Twitter and StageIt, she’d perform the songs and test the waters. One of the most well-received songs is her current single “A Woman’s Rant,” which she explained started off as a journal entry.
“It was literally a day in the life of me. I was up at six o’clock, the baby was crying, my husband wouldn’t wake up, I was exhausted trying to drag through the day,” she said. “I was just griping in my journal. And then it became funny. One of the lines about my pregnancy was, ‘I’m so gonna have it out with Eve when this is all done,’ because I was on tour three weeks before I had my kid, and my son was up in my lungs, and I had a really hard time breathing on the last couple of shows before his delivery. That’s how it became that line in the song.”