Chart Beat

TLC Joins De La Soul & More Artists With Crowdfunded Albums on the Billboard 200

TLC visit SiriusXM Studios on June 7, 2017 in New York City.
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

TLC visit SiriusXM Studios on June 7, 2017 in New York City.

TLC’s new crowdfunded self-titled studio album debuts at No. 38 on the Billboard 200.

TLC debuts at No. 38 on the Billboard 200 albums chart (dated July 22) with their new self-titled effort -- which is its first full-length studio album in 15 years. The Kickstarter-backed LP earned 12,000 equivalent album units in the week ending July 6, according to Nielsen Music (with 11,000 of that sum in traditional album sales).

TLC joins De La Soul, We The Kings, Melissa Etheridge, Protest the Hero, Steve Grand, Toad the Wet Sprocket and numerous other acts to chart on the Billboard 200 using a crowdfunding campaign.

For TLC, now consisting of just Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas and Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, the duo began using Kickstarter to fund their album in 2015 and reached their $150,000 goal in less than a week. Backers of project ultimately generated $430,000 in funding for the set—making the album the fifth most-funded music project in Kickstarter’s history.

TLC last hit the Billboard 200 with a new studio album in 2002, when 3D arrived at No. 6. 3D was released seven months after the death of TLC’s third member, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, who makes an appearance on the new self-titled set, via an old radio interview used as an interlude.

Pop punk group We The Kings used a similar crowdfunding model on Indiegogo to help fund their 2013 fourth studio album Somewhere Somehow, which hit No. 44 on the Billboard 200 and No. 6 on the Top Rock Albums chart (both dated Jan. 4, 2014). The group quadrupled their $35,000 goal, generating $149,000 and becoming the second-most-funded music campaign by an artist in Indiegogo’s history.

Like TLC, De La Soul returned to the Billboard 200 after a long absence with a Kickstarter-funded set, as the act's and the Anonymous Nobody… debuted and peaked at No. 12 on the Sept. 17, 2016-dated list. The entire campaign raised $601,000—the third-most-funded music campaign on Kickstarter ever and, with 11,000 backers, the second-most backed music campaign.

For Melissa Etheridge’s Memphis Rock And Soul in 2016, the singer funded the album through “pledges” on PledgeMusic. The campaign received over 2,000 individual pledges, helping the set launch to a No. 12 debut on the Billboard 200 (chart dated Oct. 29).

In addition to TLC, De La Soul, We The Kings and Melissa Etheridge, a number of other crowdfunded albums have reached the Billboard 200. Protest the Hero’s Volition hit No. 20 on the Billboard 200 in 2013 after a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, while Kickstarter spawned hits from Steve Grand (All American Boy, No. 47 in 2015) Toad The Wet Sprocket (New Constellation, No. 97 in 2013) and Anamanaguchi (Endless Fantasy, No. 102 in 2013).

Other acts that have reaped charting sets on the Billboard 200 from crowdfunded campaigns include Amanda Palmer, Lil Dicky, The Classic Crime, Meytal, The Zombies, Ugly Kid Joe and Sevendust.