Once upon a time, in a land very far away indeed, where rock icons basked in every excess, and aspiring musicians of all ilks rose or fell on the grace of their corporate-music overlords, there was this mythical thing called “tour support”. Tour support was that stuff dreams are made of, where an investor (i.e. your record label) made up the difference between the real costs of being on the road and the 6 tickets you sold at your first gig in a new town. The record companies were willing to make this investment because they knew that in most cases, it takes an artist several years to build a viable career.
That doesn’t exist anymore. For independent artists it never existed.
Many of us make up for this lack by funding our tours with credit cards, benefit concerts, Ebay auctions and the like. Winter and I have been remarkably fortunate in that we have had less need for fundraising than many. We are partners in a recording studio, so we don’t have recording costs to contend with. And in our 6 years of regional and then national touring, we have always made a profit.
Until this year.
This year, for the first time in our musical careers, we find ourselves needing to generate tour support.
In past years, it was not uncommon for folks to buy all our CDs after a show. This year, it was the norm for people to tell us “I love your music, as soon as I find a job-my next unemployment check comes-things get better, I am going to buy your CD.” Coupled with the rising costs of pretty much everything, not the least of which is gas, the time has come to change our game.
We could give up. We could get jobs (maybe). We could fund our way through lean times with credit cards and hope for the best.
Or we could explore creating a culture of mutual support within our community – those of you who love our music, have felt lifted up by it, and want it to continue.
This is the most empowering route, obviously, and a model that more and more artists are adopting, as we have seen by the influx of Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns, and the rise of subscription sites such as Patronism. These trends in the way musicians do business are pretty exciting, because they put the power in the hands of the artists and their tribe. The time has come for us to explore these models ourselves – because, frankly we trust you guys far more than credit card companies.
SO. Below is my first foray into initiating a culture of mutual support between our clan and ourselves. Let me know what you think. :+)
The Ring of Enchantment
What if I could create ongoing music-meditation-ritual support for helping you actualize your own dreams? A “Members only” portion of my site were we work, via Sonic Alchemy, on overcoming the blocks to your heart’s desire? This would be our very own clubhouse for creative dreamers. Part secret society, part slumber party, part magickal grove, part personal transformation alchemy lab, part creativity think tank. A place where we can share our dreams and our stumbling blocks, our hopes and fears, our tears and victories and silliness. A private online group, kinda like Facebook but without all the annoying politics and privacy invasion. And with way less people. Just folks on our wavelength, using sound and music and art and ritual to blast through our blocks and support our dreams.
What you would get –
1) Monthly Sonic Alchemy videos with a supplemental essay exploring the philosophy behind that month’s practice. (Sonic Alchemy is my “personal transformation via sound” work. You can read about it here).
2) The “Intro to Sonic Alchemy” eBook, which I am writing now.
3) My personal attention and support via a “members only” online forum. My passion, love, talents, and drive to create a world of beauty are at your service. I commit to checking in at least twice a week to answer questions, witness your vision, and help you realize it.
4) All our stuff in digital format. Every musical recording. My upcoming Lullaby Cd. Any future Sonic Alchemy workbooks and music I create. Everything I ever make again, yours, as part of your monthly subscription. (To be released one item at a time, each month).
5) Discounts on all our physical products and live shows.
6) First dibs on anything I create in one of my “artistic whimsey” modes. Faery skirts, art, journals, treasure chests, collectibles, and the like. We’ll have “just for us” insider auctions for these things.
7) A private online community. Wherein we can share our dreams, work our stuff, and support each other free from critical eyes or the usual distractions of the internet. A place all our own, to share our process with Sonic Alchemy and the various musical rituals I come up with as part of it. Also, you guys will have a major say in what you want me to create next as far as Sonic Alchemy meditations and support rituals.
Does that sound good? It sounds like a lot to me! And aside from these direct benefits, there is more goodness that comes to you, to Winter and I, and to the world at large as a result of your participation –
1) Winter and I are able to continue touring. Which means we can bring our live show to more people, including your town. When we hit the road, all other income stops. Winter’s guitar students get put on hold. Our studio work gets put on hold. We can maintain the Ring of Enchantment while we are on the road, thus alleviating the strain of needing to meet all our expenses by ticket and CD sales alone.
2) We can continue to say “Yes!” to a broad range of events, even though they may not have much money. There are a lot of folks whose vision we support, who are still trying to get their feet off the ground, who don’t have much budget, are fundraising for something we believe in, or whom we just plain like. We want to be able to support these events, but this past tour we said yes to a few too many of them. The “culture of mutual support” that we aspire to create with you guys will enable us to be less mercenary about the choices we make. It will also enable us to take more risks as far as branching into new territories, where we may not yet have a proven audience. Such as Steampunk festivals and geeky conventions like DragonCon.
3) We will be able to write more music more often. I will be able to pursue the craft of songwriting with considerably less stress hanging over my head. I can breathe a little easier about taking some time away from gigging to work on new music. You will be directly responsible for the blossoming of a songwriter, and since you will get everything I create as part of your membership, you will get to enjoy the fruits of this blossoming. This goes for Pandemonaeon music as well as my solo work and Sonic Alchemy.
4) If this goes well, we can hire an assistant. And then we can grow our business and thus our offerings by leaps and bounds! With an assistant helping out with the nuts and bolts, I can wear a few less hats and get down to my real work – creating music and art to inspire you!
5) More music videos! Lots more. Like 2-3 a year rather than one every 5-6 years. We’ve already bought ourselves a little video camera, have some great ideas in the works, and are updating our editing capabilities. A steady stream of income – and maybe even an assistant – frees up a lot of time for this.
6) Pandemonaeon tour support! Oh boy would we LOVE to tour with Pandemonaeon! But so few venues can cover our expenses. Larger festivals probably could. But we can’t get those until we’ve built up our audience. Which means folks need to hear us. A catch-22 that could be overcome if this generates enough support.
So – as you can see, your participation really does keep the music alive and flowing. You become part of our creative process, while getting regular support for your own creative process through the Sonic Alchemy work and private forum.
I am thinking this would be a $20 a month kind of thing, with a discount for signing up for a year, say $200 a year. I’d need about 50 people to sign up to make this workable. Of course the more folks we have the more grand we can get, but I can get started with 50 folks. I’m not exactly sure how long it will take me to set all this up, but I imagine we’d launch it Dec. 1st or Jan. 1st.
What do you think? Does this excite you? Would you participate? Please let me know in the comments.
Also – to kick this whole thing off – and to make sure we get through our next tour alright – we are launching a (hopefully) fun game/video-log for our October tour. Introducing:
The Hunger Games – Touring Musician Style
“Follow along as Sharon and Winter pit their wits against the rigors of the road!”
Because we will not have time to launch the Ring of Enchantment before our October tour, and because the Southern states are uncharted territory for us and therefore a bit of a risk, we have decided to make a game of it and create a video-log of the tour, based -somewhat tongue-in-cheek – on the Hunger Games Trilogy.
It will be our own little reality show in the “arena” of musician life. You can follow along with the challenges, fun times, magick moments, silliness, serendipy, and whatnot that is life on the road. And, you can choose to sponsor us a la Hunger Games should you find us deserving or wanting. You’ll pledge your sponsorship via an Indiegogo campaign. And yes, there will be perks. Some of which will be a trial membership in the Ring of Enchantment.
This campaign will launch October 1st, and we’ll post a link to it here on the blog, on our social networks, and via our mailing list. You’ll follow along right here on the blog, where we will post daily reports of a written variety, with video-logs appearing every 2-3 days. (A daily video may be too ambitious, as I will likely be editing them from the car as Winter drives!)
SO. I hope this all sounds fun, intriguing, inspiring. It does to us, and we can’t think of a better way to generate support that to pour everything we are into supporting you in your dreams, and bringing you along on our journey.
We love you. We want you to thrive. We want to thrive. We want the whole lot of us to bring our best selves to life and live the epic adventures we were always meant to. Thank you for sharing the journey with us! Stay tuned as these adventure unfold…