TLC Finally Making Good on the $430,255 They Took from Fans… MAYBE.

Is TLC finally giving their dedicated fans something for that $430,000 they took from them two years ago? Maybe, but then again… maybe not.

TLC fans are “tentatively” about to see some light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.  This week, the manager of the famed 90s girl group, Bill Diggins, broke an 8 month silence to let Kickstarter backers know that album they ponied up money for in 2015 finally has a release month… sort of.

But first, a quick recap.

Two years ago, T-Boz and Chilli, the T and C in TLC, completed a Kickstarter campaign that raised $430,000 to make their next/final album (they posted the final update February 20th).  A lot has happened in the entertainment world in two years: two new Star Wars movies have come out, 32 episodes of ‘The Walking Dead’ have aired, and Drake released 34 songs between an album, a mixtape, AND three singles from his upcoming “playlist” (whatever the difference between any of that is anymore).

But you know what hasn’t been released? A TLC album.

Why so long? Bill Diggins explains:

When we decided to do the album it was based on a number of emotional decisions and one of the biggest was how you inspired T-Boz and Chilli by your emails and texts asking them to do another album.  At the time we had no music, no producers, no writers, and a few ideas.

For those not familiar with my rants about crowdfunding, the tl;dr version is “I’m against it”.  Especially when there are no guarantees or even expectations that the project has even been started.  Is that a good excuse?  You just admitted that two millionaires asked for money from their fans with nothing ready except “a few ideas”.  Any other Kickstarter would get laughed off the site without some sort of proof that the project is moving forward.

I’m going to be that asshole.  But how long does it take and how much money does it cost to write and record a couple of songs?

Gucci Mane, a man with a tattoo of an ice cream cone on his face, dropped 1st Day Out Tha Feds literally the first day he was released from a federal penitentiary.  If he’s lucky, he got paid in cigarettes while he was working on it in the joint.  And sure, he probably had more time on his hands, but what’s TLC’s excuse?

TLC created the Kickstarter because they felt it was integral that they make this an event for fans rather than just another CD release (good idea, since no one cares about CD releases because it’s not 1996).  They were so excited to do this for and with the fans.

“Now Kickstarter allows us to directly connect with you. Send us Kickstarter messages, write comments, check out our updates. It will be fun :)”

FUN, they said with a smiley face. So much fun in fact that before this week, they hadn’t updated their fans via Kickstarter since June of 2016, with a post titled “Coming Rewards” which was for backers only.  

Obviously these rewards are taking a while to come (a problem that happens when you get older), with comments on their Kickstarter page such as these:

“Two years later. Pledged and paid for the signed album.  Was supposed to get it as well as all the offerings up to that price point.  Two years later.  I got a link to a PDF on all of their favorite songs.  Two years.  $110 for a list of songs”

“They should come here and finish what they’ve started.  Start with kickstarter so inform via kickstarter as well.  People shouldn’t be coming TO YOU for updates, you come to them.  They have no respect for their backers”

“I pledged money two years ago.  They haven’t even sent us an update in seven months.  What’s the story???  We just want to know what happened to our money?  It’s so heartbreaking.”

So, it’s March of 2017, and their MANAGER posts an update.

Not T-Boz or Chili, not one of the two girls who were ready to have “fun” interacting with you, the fans, through this process.  And the update claims a tentative release date of 3 months from now.  Why not now?  The website Cyber TLC World (wait, we’re sure it’s not 1996, right?) quotes T-Boz as saying this in January of this year:

“The album’s done and it’s bein’ mixed. Right now it’s politics, you know?”

What politics?  You got paid nearly half a million dollars from fans to make an album.  Are these the same “politics” that forced you to release two singles off the album to iTunes Japan before your backers got their rewards?  Yeah, a pretty scummy move.  Make more money off people before finally giving the fans who already spent their money what they paid for.

The whole reason they claimed they wanted to raise money via Kickstarter was because they wanted to release an album on their own terms, without label interference.  If it’s done, they could slap the fucker on iTunes tomorrow.  They could upload it to Bandcamp today.

Funny enough, I reached out to Bill Diggins last week and asked him some questions:

  • Was there a reason the singles were released to iTunes Japan before backers received their rewards?
  • Does TLC plan to do anything to address/appease their angry backers that helped make the album possible?
  • What did T-Boz mean when she said “politics” are in the way of the release date?  Wasn’t the idea of the album being backed by Kickstarter supposed to remove any outside interference?

He sent me a fairly cookie cutter statement and told me he would get back to me in a week with more detailed answers.  6 days later, he posted this update.  Did my e-mail pressure him into posting this update, trying to get out ahead of what he felt might be negative press coming TLC’s way from a major music news outlet?  Nah, probably just a coincidence that no one’s heard from them in 8 months and NOW they decide to comment on the album.

So, happy 2nd anniversary to those of you who gave money to a couple millionaires to create an album that they should have been more than capable of delivering by now.  

If you’re lucky, they’ll actually hit the target date of June-something-or-other and you’ll actually get the album before the 3rd one.

NOTE: Buckley released 4 albums on Bandcamp between February 2015 and February 2017. Combined, he didn’t even come close to earning $430,000. Who’s the idiot now?

12 Responses

  1. Versus

    Kickstarter is a bad idea for music not only because artists may fail to deliver, but also because it treats music as a charity cause, instead of work deserving to be paid for.

    • Buckley

      The problem is that is how a lot of people see it already. This idea that all musicians are buskers who should entertain them for free first, and “if I like it maybe I’ll throw them a little something”. Pirating the album and then buying it if they deem it worthy of payment, or listening to it on Spotify or YouTube before maybe giving them money, and believing they’re being nice by supporting the artist, instead of paying for entertainment.

      • MoronUnawareofHowtheWorldWorks

        I wish I could go to a burger joint, order a Kelsi Monroe buttload of food, devour every last bite of it and then decide if I would like to pay for the greasy meal or not depending on my enjoyment of it.

        Hey, wait a sec… Buckley! You’re kinda famous, right? You know people? Can you shoot an email over to Sean Parker asking him to crash the food industry? OK, thx.

      • Me

        In my opinion, pirating mostly comes from a supply problem. Make it easy enough to get it legitimately and people will. I used to pirate all the time, because I didn’t want to go all the way to the store to buy an entire album if I just wanted to listen to a single song.
        Nowadays, I can just listen on youtube or spotify (premium) instantly, while supporting the artist.
        I used to always pirate movies, but now I have netflix (which has a shitty selection where I live, so I still have to pirate some movies).
        I pirated games, now I buy them on steam. I still pirate some games though, but that is mostly because the DRM is so much shit that legit copies are almost unplayable, which is an entirely different problem. I have actually pirated games that I already owned because of the DRM.

        • Buckley

          But see, that suggests that listening to a song on Spotify even comes close to supporting the artist at any reasonable level. They create a song you want to hear over and over, and your payment to them is pennies or a percentage of pennies when you factor in how much you’re really spending vs what you’re consuming. How many times do you have to listen to a song on Spotify before someone makes even a dollar off it? The answer is a LOT. Because music is so devalued now. It is worthless to the consumer, because of that mindset… “well if there’s no convenient way for me to enjoy it, I’ll just steal it”, instead of thinking “well, this is the value they’ve attached to it, I’ll pay it because that’s what it costs”. Someone else used the fast food example already, but you can’t go to McDonalds and eat their food and then say “eh, you know what? I’ll give you a buck for that”, or “it wasn’t very good today, sorry, no money”. There’s a price on the menu, if you want it, you pay it.

          You suggest you “have to” pirate movies because Netflix doesn’t have a good enough selection. No you don’t, this suggests the world owes you entertainment or that you’re entitled to it. You’re not. If Netflix doesn’t have what you want, and you can’t afford to buy a movie from Amazon or a local store or see it in theaters, that particular movie is out of your reach for the time being. NOW, this is going to suggest that I’m anti-piracy. I’m not necessarily saying that, I’m saying that people should just at least know what they’re doing is wrong. Do it anyway, but admit, at least to yourself, that you’re wrong for doing it.

          • Me

            Yes, an artist makes less money with Spotify and Youtube than if everyone would just buy their album. You’d need to be a very big artist to live from just Spotify. They might need to pay the artists more, I don’t really know, but if I understand it correctly Spotify is already making a loss. I agree that music is devalued, but I wouldn’t say it’s just piracy that caused that.
            Funnily enough, there are actually restaurants that work in the way you described. Apparently people are willing to spend more money if they have to decide what the food was worth for themselves. (Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1491866/You-decide-how-much-meals-are-worth-restaurants-tell-customers.html)

            Now, about pirating, I shouldn’t have used “have to” in that sentence. I was talking about how it’s a supply problem, so I meant that if I wanted to get that movie without any effort my only option was piracy. I can buy a dvd in stores or online, of course, but that takes a lot of time. You’re right that pirating is wrong. But for me it’s not about the money, it’s about the time it takes me to get it. Services like Netflix and Spotify could be a lot more expensive and I would still pay for them. I’m just not going to go to a store to buy a specific movie or wait for a whole day for it to arive if I order it online and I also don’t like the idea of using an American proxy to watch Netflix on. I do realise that this is a self-centered way of looking at it, but I don’t really care.

      • Versus

        This is a norm which can be changed, based on education, conscience…and if necessary, stronger laws.

    • WJM980

      As the author so succinctly put it in his YouTube rant, hardly anyone views music as “work deserving to be paid for.” They can get it for free, and that’s how they get it.

  2. CLT

    I would rather pay a busker than any musician on kickstarter.

  3. DaminZA

    This is why I can’t believe crowd funding is still a thing. If you have a business idea or, in this case, develop a product, the success or failure is on you. How can there be any incentive to produce anything of quality when you’ve already been paid for your product. The music industry is just that, an industry. And like any other industry if you want investment to help produce a better product then there are two things to remember:
    – You need enough of a success history to gain the confidence of investors
    – Only a portion of the profits will be yours

    Imagine telling financial investors that if they give you money to create a product, you’ll let them vote on aspects of the product. That’s the reward for backing this album.

    Am I the last sane man on earth?

  4. TLC-Army.com

    Sucky, biased article. You deliberately focused on the negative comments and ignored the fact the diehard FANS who funded this project BY CHOICE continue to be patient and happy the album is being put together at their own pace.