Ana-mana-guchi. The polysyllabic tongue-twister of a name is on the lips of a swelling army of fans and admirers after several thousand helped propel the DIY, 8-bit electronic group into the pantheon of Kickstarter breakout bands. Anamanaguchi's campaign, which closes June 2, drew more than 6,000 supporters to the tune of nearly $250,000, making it the second-most successful music project in the site's history after Amanda Palmer raised nearly $1.2 million in May 2012.
"We reached our funding goal [$50,000] in the first 12 hours," lead songwriter/guitarist Peter Berkman says. "We set the goal at a level that we thought we would be able to hit, but it was a 30-day campaign. We weren't expecting things to take off so quickly."
The unsigned band chose the crowd-funding site as a springboard for new album "Endless Fantasy" -- which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart with 4,000 copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan -- but it had all the hallmarks of a successful self-release on any platform. Since its first EP in 2006, Anamanaguchi has built a fan base in the genre known as "chiptune," which is a kind of musical extension of videogame, comic book and Internet culture. In 2009, the band was tapped to create the soundtrack to the "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" videogame. And in 2011, one of its songs, which typically utilize a Nintendo console or Gameboy in addition to traditional instruments, was chosen as the theme for podcast "The Nerdist."
On Kickstarter, Anamanaguchi could have been a grain of sand on a beach of artists who have turned to crowd-funding in recent years as a means of circumventing music industry gatekeepers. But, as with other successful campaigns, a niche but established and highly engaged following proved willing to provide more than the necessary financial investment, even as labels have been tightening their purse strings.
With its campaign, Anamanaguchi asked for funding not to record "Endless Fantasy," but to promote it. The band had a finished product and a distribution deal in place with Redeye, but needed money for traditional label functions like producing videos and providing tour support. For pre-ordering the album, the group offered incentives including private recording lessons and a custom theme song.
"They're just bursting with creative energy and have so many ideas outside of music," says Edaan Brook, a Redeye A&R and business affairs coordinator who first approached Anamanaguchi in 2011. "The best bands for a self-release are great at promoting themselves, and Anamanaguchi are a perfect example. They're a self-sustaining entity."
Redeye placed "Endless Fantasy" at digital and physical outlets internationally, including Best Buy, and is even fulfilling the band's Kickstarter orders out of its warehouse, a service Brook says the company began providing only recently. The band is touring in support of the album and used some of the funding for a custom LED lighting rig.