Success Stories

MiraveseHorizontal

I have been talking for some time about the virtues of kickstarter funding for music recording projects.  The indie album Move by Matt Phillips and the Philharmonic could not have been made without kickstarter funding.  But the more I learn about the world of music kickstarters, the more I see there is to learn.

The Set Chopin Free project reached its $75,000 goal scarcely two weeks into its seven week funding schedule.  It is already more than $5,000 above its funding goal, and could well surpass $100,000 by the time its funding window closes.  And the Open Well-Tempered Clavier project (launched by Robert Douglass) has already reached 50% of its $30,000 fundraising goal from more than 450 supporters in its first 5 days!  That kind of strong start virtually guarantees funding success, and leaves us only to wonder whether it will achieve 160% (like Open Goldberg Variations), 200% (like Fractal Journeys and the Twelve Tones of Bach), 350% (like the Well-Tempered Clavier Tour), 600% (like Musopen’s Set Music Free) or more than 1100% (like Amanda Palmer did in her amazing 2012 record).  The possibilities are quite wide open.  But real questions remain: how did this happen?  what does it mean?

A press release today invites the press itself to consider some more pointed questions:

If both Open Goldberg and Musopen succeed with their Kickstarter campaigns, collectively raising over $100,000 for new recordings of standard repertoire, it is probably worth asking “Who is holding classical music in shackles?” and “Why do so many people feel it is so important to set Bach and Chopin free?” Continue reading “Success Stories”

Competition vs. Validation

 When I decided to leave the certainty of multiple steady paychecks to start a new company, everybody I briefed thought there was no possible way it could succeed, and that gave me the confidence that I’d have no competition.  The rest, as they say is history.  But since that time, I have also come to appreciate that sometimes it is more valuable to have at least some competition proving that the business idea has at least some merit.  Some percentage of a provable market is worth more than 100% of a market that simply does not exist.  Enter GrooveBox Studios.

GrooveBox Studios was born of a frustration that is nearly universal among all artists I’ve encountered: bands spend too much of their own money on projects and tours that generally enrich everybody else before the band earns a dollar.  Which is not sustainable.  The founders of GrooveBox Studios hit the business reset button and came up with a model that is really quite analogous to what we, too derived: the co-production model.  For starters, both GrooveBox and The Miraverse® promote the idea that instead of being an up-front cost that the artist must bear, the recording process is something that delivers cash and profit directly to the artist, up-front. Continue reading “Competition vs. Validation”

Another sane voice against sheer loudness

I came across Jerry Tubb’s website TerraNovaMastering.com, which not only lists an impressive number of 5.1 surround credits, but also an encouraging statement against the Loudness Wars, quoting the full text of  Joe Gross’s Everything Louder than Everything Else.

Here’s the excerpt that explains the phenomenon (for those not yet familiar with the term):

Continue reading “Another sane voice against sheer loudness”

The conservative (and generous) economics of Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry has become one of my heroes.  His writings and ideas are among the most penetrating I have encountered in any living author, and he has a wonderful and luminous presence.  He was featured on the Diane Rehm show earlier this year, and that conversation was selected for re-broadcast on New Year’s Eve, a fitting editorial choice about what we Americans should be thinking about as we compost the years 2000-2009 and decide what seeds we will plant in the coming decade (with what little fertile soil is left).

As I was driving around town and thinking about the extraordinary costs going into both the construction of Manifold Recording (not to mention the equipment budget), I was struck by these comments (at 17:16 into the one hour program):

Useful criticism always begins with an appropriate standard.  And consumerism—the flourishing of consumerism—is not an adequate standard, just as economic feasibility is not an adequate standard for human behavior.

!

What might this mean?

Continue reading “The conservative (and generous) economics of Wendell Berry”

Weathervane Music points to a new future

Weathervane Music is a non-profit, community supported production company, making music and video to support and advance the careers of amazing independent musicians. Unlike traditional for-profit production or record companies, the vast majority of proceeds from the recordings of this music go straight to the artists, which Weathervane Music selects. I first heard about them when Brian McTear made this announcement in June, and I’ve been meaning to blog about it ever since:

Hi all,

Long time no speak! I’ve been really busy putting together a new non-profit organization called Weathervane Music. In a nutshell we’re experimenting with a new model for how to fund and promote the work of great independent musicians.

Our main focus to start is something we’re calling the Weathervane Music Project Series. It’s a curated music and music-related video series produced for the web in which selected artists come into the studio (at no cost to them, of course) and record a song. The whole thing is artfully captured in hi-definition video, providing great exposure for the artist, some interesting material for gear enthusiasts, and a general primer for Weathervane’s mission.

Now NPR‘s All Things Considered has beat me to it, six months later as part of The Decade in Music: ’00s. NPR’s extraordinary instinct of going beyond the death and destruction of virtually all the major recording studios in New York City (Recording Studios Face an Uncertain Future) paid off by looking at the dynamics of low-rent Philadelphia (where commercial studios are also struggling), and discovering the diamond-in-the-rough story of an environment providing free recording services to a handful of deserving artists. But the reporting could have gone much further…

Continue reading “Weathervane Music points to a new future”

Music Think Tank confirms Miraverse business model

A new blog posting For the fans, by the fans… is yet another validation of the Miraverse business model.  For those keeping track, this adds to Peter Gabriel’s validation, George Massenburg’s validation, and others.

If others are doing this, or thinking about doing this, please get in touch!  The biggest business buzz kill is not competition–it’s lack of experience and poor execution.  Let’s get it right together, and then make it big.

Why Dissonance is the new Harmony (a lesson in Authenticity)

I’ve always had a soft spot for Youth Radio on NPR, but What’s is the new What? has taken that affection to a whole new level.  The story Dissonance is the new Harmony prompted me to set a bookmark that day and commit to blog it when I had the chance.  Now I have the chance…

Continue reading “Why Dissonance is the new Harmony (a lesson in Authenticity)”