Facebook fans help Toni Childs
HAVE you heard of crowd funding?
It's the new way of raising money that has the potential to turn the music industry on its head.
And Toni Childs - husky voiced and internationally reknowned pop singer - is turning out to be one of its pioneers.
When we speak to Toni over the phone at her Byron Bay home, she's a bit flustered.
She wants us to call on her landline - the quality is better - but she can't remember the number.
"We just changed it, and it's written down everywhere," she laughs.
"Just not where I can find it!"
Earlier this year Toni married a 'beautiful, wonderful Australian man', and her new number is due to their move to Byron Bay.
But despite being disorganised on the domestic front, Toni Childs is currently deep in the midst of a very interesting project indeed.
Toni's relocation - from her former base in Hawaii - comes as she prepares for a month long tour of regional Australia, and also ramps up pre-production on a new performance concept of epic proportions.
"We now have come to Byron Bay for several reasons, one of which is to focus on the creation of Citizens of the Planet live experience," she said.
"We're in our final stages of raising funds."
Looking at her global fanbase, Toni decided that the best way to finance her ambitious collaborative project was to ask her fans for support directly. So she set up a subscription newsletter, and gathered her fans on Facebook.
"We're doing it ourselves via my website - we've been able to raise over $170,000," she said.
"I think it's wonderful and people in the industry are seeing what's happening - there are special talents all over the world who need support as they come up.
"My feeling is that it's great the more a young artist can do on their own - really learn the business of music. It doesn't mean that you give up your artistic integrity."
Toni describes the Citizens of the Planet live experience as 'music meets TED talks' (online lectures), to be performed predominantly at performing arts festivals and tell the story of 'the magnificence of who we are.'
"It's a giant multimedia collaboration, we're talking about things like a 30 x 16 foot graphic floor created in collaboration with motion graphic artists," Toni said.
In retrospect, it's not hard to see why a project of this scope might appeal to the singer.
Raised in the USA by religious parents, she ran away from home in her teens, saw Pink Floyd play a concert, and decided she wanted to be a musician - and then she became one.
A whirlwind of touring and recording across continents came to a halt when Toni fell ill with Graves Disease in 1997, and decided to take some serious time out.
"I spent a decade off an island in the south pacific - it was time off to reflect, bathe in the stream and be connected in a different way," she said.
"When you're trying to make something of yourself, that young ambition can drive you for years before you take a breath and try to look at the decisions you've made and how you came to make them."
The soul searching, intense and introverted at first, led outward and back into music, and the discovery that she still had scope for artistic expansion - and it was to take the form of dialogue, directly with the audience.
"These ideas are all born from a long time ago, but it's almost like my whole life until now has existed to allow me to do this," Toni said.
"It's being born from the actual Citizens of the Planet - it's crowd funded!"
Toni will be swinging through town on July 18, performing at C.ex Coffs.
"I'd really like to put the call out for women to bring daughters, mothers, sisters, girlfriends, grandmothers -I want to really extend that invitation," she said.