There's little-to-no money for the majority of people in music. No one has ever thought, "I need a way to get rich quick - I know, I'll start a band". Unless you're right at the consistently-chart topping, sickeningly-rich end, you've probably got yourself a day job.
People go into music because they love it, and they love it enough to be worth the long hauls, the let's-record-this-quick-because-we-can-only-afford-three-days-in-the-studios, the empty gigs, the negative feedback, the bad eggs of the industry.
At the best of times, budgets can be hard to stick to. At the worst of times they can be bloody impossible, and artists can be forced - note my use of forced - to turn to their fans. I can't imagine any band would think, "we're short on cash, it's easiest for us to ask total strangers for their hard earned money, so that's what we'll do". Also, remember, whilst crowdfunding can be aimed at their fans, it's also how friends and family can donate at the worst of times; I don't know which is harder, to ask for money from people you know or people you don't know but who love you, but I can't imagine anyone would do it unless it was a last resort.
Over the last year or so I've seen more than a handful of occasions where bands have set up crowdfunding pages because they've hit the rocks, usually in the case of having had their van stolen/broken into/their equipment stolen - I believe the first I saw recently was empire! empire! i was a lonely estate's. In this instance, the majority of comments fall to, "make more music and sell that to raise money", or "do more shows". The band have very literally lost their ability to do just that. They need to buy the instruments to pay to record the music to pay to push it out to their fanbase before they can have enough money to replace everything they've lost.
And they're worrying how they're going to eat that night.
Time are a-changing. It used to be that the public bought music, the label stole the lion's share but provided some level of security regards insurance, and the band roamed around making enough money to keep at it, just. Now, the general public can stream music much easier, and download it cheaper - as a general rule, availability is inversely proportionate to price, and it would seem that prevails in music. So bands are getting the same amount of money, enough to keep at it, just, but they don't have the label security.
But the general public don't have to buy music. The majority of people know you can rip music from anywhere and everywhere, and it's better to have 100 fans who'll download your £2.99 EP than 10,000 fans who'll retweet your new music video. Fans are all well and good but their dedication is important.
Dedicated fans will help a band out when they hit the rocks on tour and don't know how they're going to get to their next show, or, as I saw last night, dedicated fans will help a band who can't tour because they've spent every last penny on fixing their van, and they need an extra couple of hundred quid to afford it.
Social networking, meeting fans after shows, and all other forms of personal interaction that prevail where expensive meet-and-greets used to, allow fans to form one-on-one friendships with the band, and the fans, the general public, want to help out when these people they care about hit rough water. You can't complain at a band just because your fans wouldn't do the same. It's not like the band have the bank details of all their fans and are taking the money. By putting out a crowdfunding page you're running the risk of the minority going off the band, you're running the risk of looking "desperate" or making an idiot of yourself. But do not accuse people who work full time and make time for a band that's big enough to tour of not being hard working.
Recording, that's also an expensive deal. I've seen bands from local acts to Plain White T's and the like use crowdfunding for new material. I don't know why such big acts need this, but I think it's a fair reflection of the state of the industry and I don't know the bands' personal situations well enough to comment; let's assume they're genuine.
This is a nice idea. Through PledgeMusic you can do anything from pre-order the release, something you can't complain about for morals, right through to go on a date with the lead singer, have them cover your favourite song, or get unlimited passes to their gigs. The possibilities are brilliant and limitless, and often the band sell their own clothes and equipment for these, so they're really giving something. Sure, some of the costs are extortionate, but that's another debate to be taken case-by-case.
Would you have pre-ordered the album anyway? Yes - then you've no problem.
You wouldn't have? Well, if you don't, there's less chance of it being made. Does that sway your opinion?
Being a fan of a band nowadays means you're a much more active part of what they do, one pre-order or donation can very literally make or break an act's chances.
No one's saying you need to donate, not everyone has the money to. But if you see a crowdfunding page and for whatever reason it annoys you, don't say anything rubbish to the band. If crowdfunding was a technique fans didn't want to be a part of, they wouldn't donate, and it would cease to exist.