With dwindling support, the Carlsbad Music Festival hits up Kickstarter.
  • With dwindling support, the Carlsbad Music Festival hits up Kickstarter.
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The simple math works like this: another $8000 needs to be pledged this week or the Carlsbad Music Festival gets a big fat zero. At the time of writing, 32 potential donors have thus far pledged just over $4000 toward a goal of $12,000. The Kickstarter campaign returns are enough to give anyone the shivers, but festival founder/producer Matthew McBane is unyielding. “That money is crucial to running the festival. We have to get it.”

Carlsbad Music Fest founder/producer Matthew McBane selects "adventurous music," naming rock, jazz, contemporary classical, and even Kenyan percussion acts.

McBane, who lives in Brooklyn these days but spends a good deal of time in Carlsbad, tells the Reader that the Carlsbad fest has used Kickstarter in the past to supplement grants that have dried up.“There was a special-events grant we’d been getting from the City of Carlsbad for $10,000, but it had a three-year limit.” He used Kickstarter to replace that money, for example. “We raised another $5000 using Kickstarter last year, but this year we decided to go for $12,000, since it’s our 12th anniversary of putting on the festival.”

Other grants come to the nonprofit music festival through the county board of supervisors. “From them, we get what’s called a Community Enhancement grant. This year, we got $8000 to help with both the festival and our Music Walk next June. The City of Carlsbad Arts Office gives us another $8000, and then we get private donations, sponsorships, and ad revenues from selling space in the programs.”

McBane explains that the festival, with the exception of a few ticketed events, is free to the public. “I try to select for diversity,” he says, naming rock, jazz, contemporary classical, even Kenyan percussionists in a mix that he calls “adventurous music. Our audience, therefore, is across the age spectrum.” He says the event draws some 4500 in attendance each year.

“All of our musicians are paid [this year the festival plans to stage 120 performers over three days], and then we have our production costs, like staging and equipment, festival staff, and salaries for three year-round employees.” McBane, 36, started the Carlsbad Music Festival after he graduated from USC. He’s a composer by trade and he fronts his own band, which has likewise appeared at his festival. Who watches the farm while he’s on the East Coast? “Kate Oberjat, the festival managing director, she’s in Carlsbad full-time.”

Meanwhile, the money clock is counting down.

“Well, if we don’t make our Kickstarter goal, then we’d have to radically cut back on the free concerts.”

The festival will be held August 28–30.

[Prior to publication, Carlsbad Music Festival achieved their goal, raising $12,250 from 58 backers — Ed.]

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