Our honest thoughts, fears, doubts and hopes surrounding an on-line campaign to solicit funds for our new record.
Nov 12th – 240 Backers – $21,793 raised – 107% funded – 0 days to go
Thanks to all of you, we reached our goal of $20,000 and then some!
Below is a frame we made with the name of every single backer! Can you find your name? We love you, we love you, we love you!!!
“Don’t be Stingy with the Cinnamon” – Tips on Cooking (and Life!) from our Indian Roommate
Oct 11th – 36 Backers – $3,126 raised – 15% funded – 32 days to go
Walking around in a haze of gratitude. Overwhelmed. Humbled. You see, I realize today that I haven’t always been as generous and giving as I could be. As I should be.
In Boston, Nomad and I had a roommate from India, somewhere around New Delhi. Karan was his name, and he was a funny guy. “Don’t be stingy,” he’d say to me. He didn’t mean money. He was giving me cooking tips. “Don’t be stingy” with the curry. Don’t be stingy with the garlic, the coriander, the mango, the cinnamon in a chai tea. Whenever I think of him now I hear those words, uttered chidingly in his North Indian accent.
I’ve preferred to think of myself as “frugal.” But it’s true. I’m always trying to hold on, to save. Whether it’s that last little bit of yogurt or nutella, or a skirt I no longer wear, or a freaking cardboard box! I can’t seem to let anything go. Nomad sometimes calls me “desert creature” because of my saving, frugal and okay, “stingy” nature.
And that has carried over into money. People would ask me for money: other musician friends would ask for pre-sales or launch Kickstarters of their own; my alma matters of Berklee and the University of Oregon call for donations; the Sierra Club sends their heart-breaking pictures of endangered polar bears and wolves; NPR interrupts my favorite programs with their biannual fund-raisers.
For a long time I never gave anything to anyone. “They don’t mean me,” I would tell myself. “I’m not the target audience here. I’m just a poor musician.” (or “recent graduate”, or “part-time listener,” etc.). I would exclude myself from being part of a supportive community. And I realize now that the person that I was hurting most was actually me.
It was serendipitous that NPR had their fall pledge drive the week before we launched our own Kickstarter. Lord knows we don’t have a lot of money right now, and every spare dime has to be put aside for the upcoming record. I started to tell myself “We don’t have to give right now. The folks at NPR would understand that we need all our money for other things.” The excuses came so easily. But I listen to NPR a lot, and every time someone came on to raise funds, I would get this uneasy, guilty feeling. All the excuses in the world would not make it go away.
So we gave. Not a lot. Not even enough for a tote bag. But enough to feel like a part of that community. And the sense of peace and well-being and belonging that I felt afterwards was absolutely worth that $35.
Today I’m looking down our backer list. Many of you I know personally. Many of you don’t have piles of excess money lying around (or if you do, you hide it well!). Many of you are also musicians. How easy would it have been for you to say “Mare and Nomad don’t mean me. I’m not their target audience”? But you didn’t say that. You chose to contribute to this project and be a part of this community. I am grateful, honored, humbled. You are all better people than I am.
If you haven’t given yet — or have no plans to — that’s okay. Maybe this project is not your thing. Maybe folk music in general is not your thing. But as a (hopefully) recovering stingy person, I do encourage you to find your thing, and become a part of that community by giving something. It doesn’t have to be a lot. The cliché of every little bit helping is really true in these cases. And the person you’ll be helping most, ultimately, is yourself. Because we all need to feel we are a PART of something greater than ourselves, and that we are doing something to make our world a slightly better place. We all need that kind of connection in this life.
A Pot of Stew at a Rolling Boil: Day 2 of LIVE Campaign
Oct 9th – 13 Backers – $1,871 raised – 9% funded – 34 days to go
First and most important by far, a HUGE THANK-YOU to everyone who has already contributed to the campaign: Ehren Ebbage, Steve Andreason and Roka Walsh, Tom Trapp, Gilbert Jones, Rebecca Loebe, Diane Mittelstaedt, Robert Spellman, Bill Litviak, Andrew Reback, Kevin Winter, David Gloster Frank Plucinski and Zelda Sheldon.
You are amazing and we are so grateful for your support. Many of you are personal friends and that means even more to us. Thank you!!!
Now, how’s it going?, you ask. I promised to be 100% honest here and so I will be.
We had NO IDEA how time-consuming this campaign would be. We put weeks — WEEKS — into planning just the video: figuring out what to say, how to say it, where to shoot it. We shot a rough draft and consulted with our fabulous marketing-oriented friends about how to make it better. The night of the actual shoot was loooooong and super challenging, and then we spent another entire week or so editing and trying to make it look good. There are still things I wish we’d done differently — our HAIR! for one 🙂 — but believe me when I tell you we could not have done any better than we did. We put everything we had into the video.
Then add another 3 or 4 days to get the rest of the site done. The premiums for different contribution amounts, the photos, the text. We wanted to get it all perfect. And you know perfection takes time.
Finally the site was done, and the pressure was temporarily off. Kickstarter requires a few days to review a project (I did not know this! Actually put us a bit behind schedule). So once I hit the “submit” button, there was nothing to do but wait. That was a little rest – we felt like we were “done” for a few days.
Then our project was accepted. And things really began. We scheduled our start for Tuesday, October 8th, and I didn’t sleep at all Monday night. I kept raising my head to look at the clock. At 5am I gave up on sleep, and hit “Launch.”
I can’t believe that was only yesterday. Since then every minute has felt like an hour. Nomad and I try to refrain from compulsively checking every 15 minutes to see if there has been any activity. We try to keep our emotional roller coaster in check, but still fall victim to giddy elation if there are new contributions, fear and anxiety if there are not.
I didn’t sleep well last night either. I kept thinking of new ways to promote the campaign. New resources to tap, new angles to work, new ways to thank contributors (actually have a few cool ideas for this – stay tuned) In short: Kickstarter is a pot of stew that is at a constant rolling boil on the front burner of our minds.
And wasn’t there something else we were supposed to be doing? … Umm … like preparing to make a record? Don’t worry. We are ON it! I promise. We’ve done the pre-production already and since then every day we’ve rehearsed and worked on parts. That IS the priority and we both know it. It’s just that Kickstarter is never far from our minds. We’ll take a 5 minute water break during rehearsal and one of us (or both) will check for new emails, new alerts.
It’s only day 2. I imagine we’ll get used to this just as people get used to many things. There’s just a stressful, anxiety-ridden learning curve — at least for me! (Nomad seems to be a little calmer, thank goodness.) But I have no regrets. If nothing else, we’ve learned how to make a video 🙂 And we’re deepening our connection with friends and supporters – and figuring out where and how we fit into the global, cyber, independent music community. That’s never a bad thing!
* August 13th *
Technically, we haven’t even started yet. But today was the day that Nomad and I actually made up our minds that we are definitely going for this, and announced the impending campaign to the mailing list.
Tiny bit of background: You know what Kickstarter is, right? A website that hosts various art projects in need of funding. Paintings, dance pieces, movies, books and records have all come to fruition thanks to folks making donations through Kickstarter. To date they’ve raised $743 million for art!
Nomad and I have friends who have used Kickstarter. Some of them were successful. Some were not. We never thought we’d go for it. Nomad called it “cyber begging,” and while I was truly supportive of our friends’ efforts, I always kind of secretly agreed with him.
But now it’s time to make a record — past time by many industry standards. Our latest release is almost three years old, and we have more than 20 songs that are not yet recorded. I can’t tell you how many times someone has come up after a show and asked “which CD is the ________ song on?” only to be told that particular song is not-yet-recorded.
We need a new CD.
But it’s more than that.
Nomad and I have been together for 12 years now. We have been a couple and a musical duo for that entire time. But in addition to being one-half of a musical duo, Nomad has also been our producer, arranger and engineer for every record we’ve made together.
It hasn’t been easy.
There were tears. There were horrible fights where someone (usually me) would have to leave the studio – actually drive off in the car – in order to escape and cool off. And frustration built on both sides. I didn’t like him telling me what to do, how to play, what to change. And he didn’t like being the “bad guy,” the one constantly having to criticize in order to make progress and improve the overall recording.
I won’t bore you with details. This isn’t a couples counseling blog. Suffice it to say, we’ve made lots of progress, both musically and emotionally, and we’re in a really REALLY good, happy loving place right now. That’s the truth.
Part of our progress came from realizing that it was too much to ask Nomad to be an artist AND a producer, arranger and engineer. Don’t get me wrong, Nomad is a FABULOUS producer and I’m very happy with everything we’ve done thus far. But it’s finally time to let Nomad be an artist too. Let us each be fully one-half of our duo. Let someone else produce.
Thankfully, we live in Nashville – a town full of awesome and super qualified producers with great ears, innovative ideas, and experience handling artist egos in a studio environment.
Here’s the catch: They cost money.
Not millions. Not an insurmountable sum. But more than we have right now.
And a LOT of fear.
What if we don’t make our goal? What if we don’t even come close? What if our friends and fans and families think we’re lame? What if they think we’re failures for even having to ask? What if we lose every single fan we have and no one ever speaks to us again?
Such is the rabbit hole down which our fears lead us.
And here’s how I talk myself out.
We are not failures. We have a home. Our car runs, AND it’s paid for. We always pay our bills on time. We always have enough to eat. And we manage all this while working full-time as musicians, while traveling the country singing and playing for folks who love what we do. After shows, people come up to tell us how moved they were by a particular song, how inspired by a piano line or vocal melody. In the opinion of many, we are “living the dream,” and I am so very grateful for the life we get to live in music.
A wise and wonderful songwriter friend once told us, “In this business, survival is success.”
I know what he means. And I do agree. Many days I do feel successful, and downright blessed, to be able to live the life we’re living.
And there’s something more.
There’s no shame in seeking patrons of the arts. This is how art has been created for centuries! As Kickstarter says “Mozart, Beethoven, Whitman, Twain and other artists funded works in similar ways — not just with help from large patrons, but by soliciting money from smaller patrons.”
In the 20th Century, we moved away from individual patrons toward the record label model. Companies would front unknown artists thousands of dollars so that they could make a record. They did this as a business venture. But they also did this because they believed in the music that artist or band was making.
Now we’re in a new century, a new time. Label deals are rare. Nobility who single-handedly support artists are rarer still. Indie Americana-folk acts like us are on our own. That’s how we’ve lived thus far.
I’ve never asked fans for money before. I’ve never even done pre-sales for CDs. And a big part of me is still feeling a lot of fear. Of failure. Of judgment.
But maybe it’s time to embrace the 21st Century model? We have the songs; we have a producer (Grammy Award-winning, I might add) ready to work with us. We already have a few studio dates scheduled on the calendar. We just need the support.
Accompany us on this journey! Join our record label! Become a patron of the arts! Whatever you can give will be so very much appreciated. And even if there is absolutely no wiggle room in your budget right now, please be our PR department. Tell your friends and family members that a musical act you really believe in is ready to take this step, tell them they can be a part of it.
Okay, so the blog turned into a pitch. These days I’m constantly rehearsing what will be on our Kickstarter page.
But I’m also not even sure this is the right direction to take… And suddenly here’s the fear again.
This might be harder than I thought.