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Russian Rock Legend Boris Grebenshikov Crowdfunds New Record

Boris Grebenshikov is turning to the fans online for support. Image from the artist's Facebook page.

Boris Grebenshikov is turning to the fans online for support. Image from the artist's Facebook page.

Boris Grebenshikov, the Russian rock guru and leader of the band Aquarium, is turning to raising money online to fund his latest music record. But the musician, who has worked the stage since 1972 and has a huge fanbase in Russia and the former USSR, says the crowdfunding approach is hardly new.

In an appeal on Facebook on September 1, Grebenshikov writes that Aquarium has always “relied on friends” to record and release its music, and that the band was the first to coin the term “magnitizdat”—the audio and music incarnation of the term “samizdat” or self-publishing—in Russia.

Друзья помогали полулегально записаться ночью в студии. Друзья распространяли полноценные альбомы с самодельными обложками на катушках и кассетах. Друзья привезли нас в Канаду на первую профессиональную сессию звукозаписи. Друзья открыли нам двери фирмы «Мелодия». Сегодня мы все – обитатели Прекрасного Нового Мира Интернета, где музыку можно слушать бесплатно. Но, чтобы ее записывать, нужны деньги.

Friends helped us to record in a studio at night, half-legally. Friends distributed full albums with handmade covers on reels and audio tapes. Friends brought us to Canada for our first professional recording session. Friends opened the doors of the “Melodiya” recording company to us. Today we are all inhabitants of the Wonderful New World of the Internet, where you can listen to music for free. But in order to record it, we need money.

The Russian rock legend points out that all of Aquarium's and his own music “in this century” has been made possible by help from “friends” and fans. This time around, Grebenshikov has set up an appeal on the Russian crowdfunding platform, framing it as “passing the hat among the people.” The incentives for crowdfunders include vinyl records and CDs of various Grebenshikov and Aquarium music, personally signed by the musician. In just under one day (as of noon Moscow time on September 2), the appeal has already collected over 2,5 million rubles ($37,300) out of the 3 million ($44,760) goal set by the project (the appeal was scheduled to run for 110 days, but looks set to end much earlier).

Grebenshikov performing at a concert in Oslo in 2015. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Grebenshikov performing at a concert in Oslo in 2015. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Grebenshikov, called simply BG (after his initials) by adoring fans, is often dubbed the “Grandfather of Russian Rock,” thanks to scores of popular hits and a lengthy performing career spanning several decades. Although crowdfunding music projects can sometimes meet with criticism, in BG's case the diehard fans seem to take his appeal at face value and trust that the music will be up to par. User andrey180381 commends Grebenshikov for his work and hopes the new album will contain “those goosebumps from the combination of the words and the music.”

Приятно сознавать, что можешь вложить свою крупицу в часть творчества “Аквариума”!

It's nice to know that you can add your small part to the craft of Aquarium!

In the somewhat heated discussion in the comments under the Facebook announcement for the appeal, some users accused Grebenshikov of “selling out,” citing his recent visits to perform in Ukraine as an example, and said they no longer enjoyed his music. Others, like Facebook user Artyom Smol'yaninov, thought crowdfunding a record was not an honest business model.

Дать денег на альбом, чтобы он потом продал нам этот альбом, чтобы потом мы купили билеты на концерт… Выгодная сделка!

Give him money for an album, so that he can later sell the album, so that we then buy tickets to the concert… A handy deal!

The critical comments were met with a chorus of “music is above politics” replies, which user Vlad Basovsky summarized in a rhetorical question.

Хочу спросить тех, кто, якобы, перестал слушать БГ по политическим мотивам. Как же вы раньше его слушали? И если слушали, почему не услышали?

I want to ask those who allege they stopped listening to BG on political grounds. How did you listen to him before? And if you listened, why did you not hear?

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