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TLC’s Final Album Sees High-Profile Backers, Thousands of Fan Pledges on Kickstarter

Last Monday, R and B group TLC launched a Kickstarter campaign for their upcoming album, with a goal of raising $150,000. They met that goal by Thursday, January 22, and have since exceeded it, bringing in a total of $229,392 within just one week.

TLC members Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas and Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins released statements on Twitter and elsewhere, stating that they felt “blessed and loved,” according to Thomas.

The new fifth album will mark the first since 2002′s 3D, which was released seven months after the death of the group’s third member, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes.

Fans can continue to make pledges for another 23 days, which turns this music campaign into one of the most successful on Kickstarter so far. With more than 91% of Americans using social media regularly, word traveled fast over the past week through Facebook, Twitter, and other outlets.

“In just four days, their project’s become one of the most funded and anticipated music projects on Kickstarter to date,” said company spokesman Justin Kazmark.

In addition to fans who donated, the group also received funds from high-profile supporters like Katy Perry, who pledged $5,000, and New Kids on the Block, who pledged $20,000 and will tour with TLC in the spring. Other donors who pledged large amounts get their choice of several rewards, including a TLC onesie, a sleepover in Atlanta with Chilli and a sleepover in Los Angeles with T-Boz (though the latter has already been claimed). Lower pledged amounts can receive thanks in the album’s digital liner notes and photo books, among other bonuses.

Thomas and Watkins decided on a Kickstarter campaign as a way to work with fans — it wasn’t necessarily about shunning record labels.

“We don’t want this whole project to be about us trying to get away from record labels,” Thomas said. “It had everything to do with our fans asking us for new music, sending in ideas as far as names of albums, visuals, stuff for albums.”

TLC was one of the highest-selling groups of the ’90s, with their 1994 album CrazySexyCool reaching diamond (or 10x platinum) status — a first for an all-female group. In the mid-90s, the group famously went bankrupt after a bad deal with record labels and managements, which only paid them $0.56 per album sold — split three ways for each member.

Watkins and Thomas say the crowd-funded album will be their last.

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