Ellis Paul: Crowdsourcing and Songwriting
How do you convince hundreds of people to contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund your permanent vacation? Ellis Paul, in town on March 6 for a performance with Six String Concerts, knows.
The folk singer/songwriter from Maine has been able to crowdfund his last two albums. His most recent release, Chasing Beauty, was funded with over $100,000 contributed by more than 600 donors. While Ellis Paul is living free as an independent artist, the musician didn’t always have the luxury.
A lot has changed for Paul since he began touring the country decades ago. He’s changed funding strategies, diversified his artistic output, and even adjusted his social life. All of Paul’s personal and professional changes were in service of his passion for songwriting.
Paul has released nineteen albums in his career, developing a consistent listenership and fan base along the way. Their support has allowed him to self-publish his last two releases. Paul describes self-publishing as “[surviving] without a middleman.”
With “complete control of the artistic side of it,” Paul can spend more time songwriting, caring for each song “the way it deserves to be treated.”
Paul writes more than music: he has written multiple children’s books, made a documentary film, and released a collection of poems and short stories. “They all stem out of my work as a touring singer-songwriter,” says Paul.
His creativity is practical; Paul says that diversifying his output keeps “other income streams coming in so I can still keep up my habit of being on the road and writing songs.”
Just as he’s expanded his creative work to benefit his music, Paul has cut down in some ways: “My social life was a lot different in the early days…There’s less drinking, less partying, less canoodling with people I barely know.”
In the end, Ellis Paul is all about the music. While he considers his live performances partially as “a way to advertise those songs,” Paul still finds performing songs like “Drive In Movie” and “Never Want To Lose You” to be fun and cathartic.
The songs are everything. “The best part of the job is really writing the songs,” says Paul. He understands his writing as a kind of escapism: “You lay this little, three-dimensional world down that lasts about three minutes, which people will listen to.”
On March 6, Paul bring his passionate, little worlds to a place he loves. “I really love playing for the folks in Columbus,” says Paul. “It should be a fun night.”
More information about Paul’s performance with Six String Concerts can be found at www.sixstring.org.
A complete interview with Ellis Paul can be found at www.crafttheshow.com.