Fans Come Through For Jill Sobule

Singer/songwriter Jill Sobule’s gamble to ask fans to finance her latest release, California Years, has paid off better than expected.

Sobule had written a batch of songs she liked but had no idea how to use. Having soured on the label system after being dropped by two major labels and signing to two indies that went bankrupt, she was “hesitant to go down the label road again.”

So in November 2007, Sobule asked her fans what they thought of the idea of a fan-funded album.

“It would be sort of a patronage thing, where you guys are the Medici family, except I give you prizes for donations of certain amounts,” she wrote.

Photo: Jeff Gentner /

Fan response was positive and encouraging, so the singer launched in mid-January to collect donations. By March, Sobule had reached her target of $75,000 through contributions from more than 500 fans and even a few non-fans, including one who wrote, “I don’t really like your music, but I’m donating because I like this idea.”

The grand total of $85,000 has allowed the singer to record, master, press, distribute, advertise and market Years, due April 14, on her own.

The album features production work by Don Was and features an all-star cast of musicians, including drummer Jim Keltner and pedal steel guitarist Greg Leisz.

Although Sobule hasn’t released an album since 2004’s Underdog Victorious, she hasn’t been sitting idle.

In the past four years, she’s written music for a new play (“Prozak and The Platypus”) and a Nickelodeon show (“Unfabulous”), launched a series of live shows (“The Jill and Julia Show”) with actress and writer Julia Sweeney, become a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and showed up as a frequent guest on NPR’s “The Bryant Park Project.”

In 2009, she’ll hit the road in support of Years. Dates are expected soon.