STEWART: The first time musician Jill Sobule came to our studios last fall, she was toying with an idea. And in January, she gave it a shot. She asked fans on her website to donate money so she could make her next record. Sound like a crazy plan? Crazy like a fox, or foxy musician, anyway. We're pleased to report that the idea worked and in about two months, Jill raised 80,000 dollars. Now she's ready to make an album and she joins us now in the studio. Yay! You're here.
Ms. JILL SOBULE (Musician): Yay!
STEWART: And yay! You got the cash!
Ms. SOBULE: I know. I actually didn't really know. I thought maybe I'd get half that amount.
STEWART: It's unbelievable. Explain to people the levels of contributions that they could make.
Ms. SOBULE: So, they don't just give me money. They get gifts and services. So if it's from the polished rock level to weapons grade plutonium, and I got one of those. So it's like from five dollars to 10,000 and that was just kind of a joke, but you get to sing like a duet with me.
Ms. SOBULE: And someone from the UK named Joe...
STEWART: Is the one who got that?
Ms. SOBULE: Is coming in April, yes.
STEWART: That's amazing. So you had these increments. These five, ten, twenty...
Ms. SOBULE: Right, you get the download for free and then you get a thank you and then there's various levels where you get a theme song that I'll have to write. I have a lot of theme songs to write for people, and one where I do an instrumental at the end of the album and I mention your name or your kid's name and so it was kind of goofy and a funny idea and it actually worked. It actually - I made it for 75,000 and it's not just for recording it's for just doing the whole thing, touring, marketing, but - and when I stopped it there were people that were saying, well, I missed out. I was too late. Can I? It was so tempting to keep it up.
STEWART: Well, that's called "the follow-up record fund," I think.
Ms. SOBULE: Or "Jill's first Brooklyn brownstone dot com."
STEWART: There you go. You can come into my house. You can hang out with me. So this record's going to have a ton of producers because you could get a producer credit, right?
Ms. SOBULE: Absolutely, and I'm going to do three records. One live one, one studio one, and one where it's just vocal and guitar with - I'll do it to a grid to a click, and it'll have all the audio files, so you could, if you have GarageBand, you could produce a track.
STEWART: That's very cool. And now you highlighted one comment on your site from someone who donated and I wanted to read this quote. "I am donating not because of the music. The music is good, but not really my kind of music, but because I think it is a worthy project. The idea of using the Internet to get small donations from a lot of people is great and once you have a small fan base, it is doable. So I'm giving a small tip in the hope that you, one day, will make a great album." What did you like about this comment so much?
Ms. SOBULE: That was just sweet because it wasn't a fan. It was just someone who liked my idea and thought this is a new model. And people are looking for new models.
STEWART: So the guy in the UK, was he your biggest single donation? Or who was?
Ms. SOBULE: Yeah, that was my biggest single, and I just hope - it's a woman actually. Jo, J-O, and I hope - it doesn't really matter that she can sing because computers can fix it these days, and I really don't care if she can sing or not. It'll be fun and great.
STEWART: Did you get any special requests from any of the donations? People making suggestions of things they wanted to be involved with you?
Ms. SOBULE: Well, people asked well, I can't sing, but can I play drums? And I should have responded to them. Boy, you and I could have, we could have gone to Atlantic City today. We could have doubled it. No, no, no. I can't touch it.
STEWART: Can't touch it. This is all about the music and making the new album, and you're going to give us a little taste of what we might hear on the new record?
Ms. SOBULE: Well, there's so many songs, and I'm not sure which are going to make it, but within the three, there will probably be a lot of different songs. Here's a little song about - well, I hate saying when people try to say what it's about...
STEWART: Just go ahead and sing.
Ms. SOBULE: Because I don't even know.
Ms. SOBULE: (Singing) Here I am back where I began. With my old friends, my notebook and my pen. I can't believe it's been eight years Waiting for something to happen. Nothing has happened in eight years. Gone in a minute.
Everything's different, but nothing has changed. No words of wisdom, the best I can say. Here I go, falling through the page. Down the rabbit hole, hoping I'll be saved. From all those empty days that make eight years Waiting for something to happen. How did it happen? Eight years gone in a blink.
Everything's different, but I'm still the same. No lessons learned. The best I can say Is I'll get up today. I'll try to be a good person, And I'll still love, and I'll still dream. Hope I have more eight years Waiting for something to happen. Nothing has happened in eight years.
STEWART: New music from Jill Sobule, which may or may not end up on this new album, where people have helped you raise the money to be able to make this record. Where are you in the recording process?
Ms. SOBULE: I'm going to start next month.
STEWART: Whereabouts? LA? New York?
Ms. SOBULE: I'm going to start in LA, and then I'll probably come here and play with some friends here in New York.
STEWART: Have you toyed around with names yet?
Ms. SOBULE: Famous people?
STEWART: Of the album.
Ms. SOBULE: Oh, names of the record! No, but I would love suggestions. Plus, I need a name for my record company.
STEWART: Wow. Well, I guess we'll have to do a shout-out for you on the website.
Ms. SOBULE: I know.
STEWART: We're actually scrambling. We had put a shout-out for names for your band last time you were here, and I think somebody's getting those for us. You know what we're going to ask you to do? Can you stick around for a just a little bit?
Ms. SOBULE: Absolutely.
STEWART: Because we'll get some of the suggestion names for your band. We'll perhaps put up on our website suggestion names for your record company and your album as well.
Ms. SOBULE: Oh, that's great.
STEWART: And I know I put you to work a little bit because you're our op-ed lady, music lady, and you came up with something that you've been toying with. It's been a little bit of a challenge...
Ms. SOBULE: Yeah, well, I've just been upset really, ever since the Spitzer thing and Kristen, the woman who he slept with, she made 250,000 dollars her first day on her music on her MySpace page, and I've had a history with someone that I don't want to reveal because I'm - but I could have made a lot of money, and that's what this song is about.
STEWART: That is what they call a "good tease" in radio. Jill Sobule, in studio with us. Do stay with us here at the Bryant Park Project. Jill's going to join us on the other side. Also coming up, the FCC auctioned off a bunch of wireless spectrums yesterday. We'll tell you why it's such a big deal. This is the BPP from NPR News.
(Soundbite of song)
Ms. SOBULE: (Singing) Why are all our heroes so imperfect? The statue in the park has lost its crown. We fought the drunk and depressed, And that guy seven years in Tibet. (Unintelligible)
Founding fathers all had slaves, The explorers slaughtered the braves, The Old Testament God could be so heavy. Paul McCartney...
STEWART: Welcome back to the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. We do have some news headlines coming up very shortly as well as a bit of an explainer about the FCC selling off those wireless spectrums, but we did want to finish up first with Jill Sobule. She was nice enough to come into our studios. So Jill, now you've got the money to make your record. You're going to start in, but now you need a name for your band you told us last time. So I want to give you some of the suggestions that our listeners gave.
Ms. SOBULE: Oh, good.
STEWART: Jill and the Incredible Fantastics. Jill Sobule and the Change. Jill Sobule and the Bit Parts.
Ms. SOBULE: The bit parts? What the...
STEWART: Jill Sobule and the Insobules. Jill Sobule and the Sarcastics. Jill Sobule and the Strange Light. This is actually kind of a good one. I like this one. Jill Sobule and the Plastic Monkeys.
Ms. SOBULE: I like that one.
STEWART: Monkeys always good.
Ms. SOBULE: Monkeys is always good to put in anything.
STEWART: So we're going to send Jill off with a list of potential names for her band, and we'll - you know, we might actually put it on our website. Get you guys to help Jill name her album as well, but we are going to put you to work. You have become a big part of our family writing these great musical opinion editorial pieces, and you rarely hold back. There's a little bit of - some news that's been on your mind. You know you don't have to go too in depth about it, but it's been something you felt like you needed to sing about a little bit.
Ms. SOBULE: Well, I just feel like since the Spitzer case and the Kristen who made lots of money on her MySpace page, that I could've done the same thing because I had a celebrity in my past, and maybe I should have told, but here's - it's a hard song for me to sing because, you know, it's very emotional.
Ms. SOBULE: (Singing) At first, it was exciting to play the cloak and dagger, To sneak into a taxi back to your Georgetown condo. And there, you'd play piano in your red stilettos. You'd put me in a trance. Take off the pant-suit pants. Condoleezza, I'll keep our secret. Won't sing your last name, Though it would help me sell a lot of records, Increase the traffic on MySpace.
I'll keep our secret, Condoleezza. I really do miss your sweet kiss. And in bed talking Soviet politics. But you should have taken my advice on the war And left that no good man you're working for. Condoleezza! I really can't go on with this song anymore.
STEWART: Jill Sobule, sharing the intimate thoughts and, of course, not revealing anything about a part of her life. Well, we appreciate your candor, Jill.
Ms. SOBULE: Thank you very much.
STEWART: Jill Sobule raised enough money for her new record. We can't wait to hear it and we can't wait to have you back. Thanks for coming in this morning.
Ms. SOBULE: Thank you guys so much.
STEWART: Right now, though, we're going to go to Laura Conaway in our news booth. I do believe Laura has a little bit of news for us.
BILL WOLFF: This is NPR.