tl;dr Record companies screwed over Lester Chambers of The Chambers Brothers for decades and as a result, today he's poor. My social enterprise, breadpig, is working with Lester and his son Dylan to organize this Kickstarter to back a new album by (and entirely owned by) Lester Chambers himself so the man can finally get his due. The open internet can make right what the music industry has done so wrong.
As seen on r/videos and the frontpage of YouTube, this trailer of Lester's story has now had over 500,000 views!
Last spring, we saw the story of Lester Chambers bubble up on the internet. The lead singer of 1960s soul music group The Chambers Brothers posted this photo:
“I am the former lead singer of a 60′s band. I did not squander my money on drugs or a fancy home. I went from 1967-1994 before I saw my first royalty check. The music giants I recorded with only paid me for 7 of my albums. I have never seen a penny in royalties from my other 10 albums I recorded. Our hit song was licensed to over 100 films, TV & commercials without our permission. One major TV network used our song for a national commercial and my payment was $625 dollars. I am now 72, trying to live on $1200 a month. Sweet Relief, a music charity, is taking donations for me. Only the 1% of artists can afford to sue. I am the 99%.”
The music industry may have screwed Lester Chambers for decades, but we the internet public can right their wrong.
Thanks to the open internet (things we fought for against SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, etc.), sites like Kickstarter and other innovations that are being worked on by entrepreneurs right now, we have the opportunity to do right by artists and cut out those who'd mistreat them. We have the opportunity to create solutions that will support artists in the digital world.
Lester Chambers is putting together a new album titled "Lester's Time Has Come." With this project, we have the opportunity to support not only the awesome work of a storied and talented musician, but we have the chance to stand up against the tyranny of the record industry. Stand with Lester, and stand for innovation that supports artists' rights.
A note from Lester: "I thank God for the opportunities I have been blessed with and when Alexis Ohanian called all I could say was WOW. All the times I sat hoping and wishing I could make another record had finally come true. In this record I promise to have some of the worlds GREATEST songs from your past and some Great New songs for your new year to come!"
Read more about Lester in his interview with Vice.
Even with a daunting list of illnesses and a life of hardship at the hands of the music industry, Lester is not a beaten man, far from it, and it's clear that his son is a big part of that.
"My son, Michael Dylan, said 'Dad don't worry. I'm never gonna leave you. Always stay by your side.' He slept on the floor with me.... Every father in the world should have a son like I have."
"Fathers be aware, if your son is not what Michael Dylan is to me, to you -- straighten him out."
Funds from this project will go to Lester via the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, which provides financial assistance to career musicians who are struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability, or age-related problems. Sweet Relief has been supporting Lester and other musicians in need, and they will be helping produce Lester's album.
This project is managed by Breadpig, an online publisher headed by Alexis Ohanian. Breadpig gives a majority of its profits to its artists (in this case 100%).
We cannot thank Lester and his son Dylan for opening up to us and taking a day to tell their story. May this kickstarter campaign let us all finally say that Lester's Time Has Come.
Here is Lester's detailed budget for this album, Lester's Time Has Come.
Rehearsal costs: $3,800
Musicians (Band): $8,000
Five Weeks Studio Time: $10,000
Musician fees (including Tower of Power Horns, Lenny Williams, Zakiya Hooker, Ant Dog, & Marin City Choir): $6,200
Risks and challenges
The Christmas songs are all set, and we'll be sending those along to all our backers on a rolling basis.
The album "Lester's Time Has Come" is a work in progress. We'll be working on the album, and the art as this campaign rolls along. We hope to keep you as looped into the process as much possible. We'll send updates your way, and let you know if there are any delays in production.
And of course if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to any of us.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)