Sahil Lavingia on July 6th, 2012
Last Call at the Oasis is a feature film that sheds light on how we use the world’s water in a non-sustainable way, and how we need to change the way we think about and use water. The soundtrack to the film is comprised of 20 songs donated by 20 bands, including Les Claypool, Dave Matthews, Tim Reynolds, and My Morning Jacket. In order to raise funds for the cause, they let people pay what they want for the album, with all the proceeds going to charity.
Since they went live on Gumroad, they’ve raised thousands of dollars to support water conservation. Though the soundtrack was priced at $1+, more than 71% of buyers paid more than the minimum price, and the average price paid was 500%+ higher than the minimum price. These numbers got us excited, so we reached out to Jesse Patrone-Werdiger from ATO Pictures, who spearheaded these fundraising efforts, to hear more about the soundtrack and their experience with Gumroad
1. What are you selling? What’s the story behind it?
We are selling our charity album Turn the Tide: Songs for Last Call at the Oasis. It features 20 songs donated by 20 bands and was created to help spread the message of our documentary Last Call At The Oasis. The film’s message resonates strongly with most audiences, so the key was simply reaching people - we knew that once they heard the message they’d be won over.
Music seemed like a natural choice for a vehicle; we have two sister music companies, ATO Records and Redlight Management, and musicians have a strong history of rallying to the side of charitable and eco-friendly causes. We came up with the idea of spreading the film’s message through a “tribute” album, and passing any proceeds from it to not-for-profit groups that support water causes.
Getting bands on board was surprisingly easy once they heard about the film’s subject matter. It was great hearing the personal ties that many of the artists have to water - Les Claypool of Primus is an avid fly fisherman, and Dave Matthews has a strong history of working with similar organizations. We have some obvious water-related tracks: “Oceans” by John Butler Trio, “Last Salmon Man” by Primus, “Unclean Waters” by Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and Amos Lee gave us a really stunning unreleased live recording of his song “Black River.”
2. Why is Gumroad a good fit for the soundtrack?
As with many efforts that benefit non-profits, we had a severe limit on costs for the album. All the music was donated for free, and there was no marketing budget – outreach was done exclusively through social media. Gumroad fit perfectly with this model because there was no upfront fee, it was easy to share, and Gumroad only collected if the album received donations.
3. What are your favorite things about the Gumroad platform?
We love how simple and clean the interface is. We built a preview widget into the film’s website so people could listen to the tracks, followed by a link to Gumroad for download and donation. Easy peasy.
4. What could we do better?
We didn’t know about the $0+ pricing option until now, and we always really wanted a no-minimum donation option. In the end, we’re actually happy with having the dollar minimum and don’t plan on changing it.