Crowdfunding Chrysanthemums

postcard

By Jane Ayres

Last year, I attempted my biggest challenge – launching my first ever crowdfunding campaign for a music and dance event in Kent. I’ve been excited by the idea of crowdfunding for a long time – ever since I attended a workshop by the fantastic Crista Cloutier. If your project is hard to categorise, or getting funding through the usual channels isn’t working, than crowdfunding is a way to approach your audience directly.

Like many enthusiastic fundraisers, I was seduced by success stories of other individuals and arts groups, and keen to try it myself. I can honestly say it is way harder than I imagined!

I went to a Fundraisers Bootcamp last month and it was perhaps reassuring in an odd way to learn that not everyone reaches their target and that it really is as tough as I am finding it. It’s been a steep learning curve – luckily I love learning! It took months to construct the crowdfunding page to get it right, and then we promptly ignored advice about how to do the video trailer. Instead, after several takes of unsuccessful talking heads, we opted to let the music – and dance – do the talking for us. Whether or not that worked is for you to decide.

I spent ages trying to create some unique, personalised and, frankly, lovely rewards for supporters – ranging from signed first pages of the new scores, to tickets for the concerts, to a chance to meet all the cast after the shows. All supporters will get credits in the special souvenir programme.

The bit of the process I find most difficult (and this is going to sound a bit strange) is asking people to give money. I quickly realised that I really don’t like doing this! The lovely folk at the Fundraising Bootcamp pointed out that people can only say No, and would I mind if I was asked to support a crowdfunding arts project? Of course not. But has that made it any easier? Not really. Why is it so tough to ask for help? I don’t know the answer to that.

But I do know I am passionate about the project I am fundraising for, and that all the rules of fundraising equally apply to crowdfunding. It isn’t a magic solution to raising money. However, it is a brilliant tool for communicating a fab project to a lot of people – with the hope that it will connect enough for people to want to share it with others.

So what are we doing it for? In a nutshell, the The Mirabai Project is a labour of love – a not for profit collective, with ambitious plans to stage innovative events that combine music, dance, design, film and new technology.

Chrysanthemums is our first event – an intriguing semi-staged concert with string quartet, harp, sax and 3 female voices – and special guests Elena Velasco-Peña and Luis Rodriguez, dazzling Argentine Tango dancers. This is our first collaboration with the young Canterbury based Leon String Quartet. Established in 2010, they are dynamic and versatile, with a wide repertoire and commitment to new music and innovative collaborations. Joining them are award winning musicians that include harpist Ruby Aspinall, sopranos Elizabeth Fulleylove and Gabriela Di Laccio, and Kent saxophonist Richard Melkonian.

The first show includes two world premieres. Award-winning composer Barry Seaman’s haunting Torch Songs is written for harpist Ruby Aspinall, and is inspired by songs about love, loss and friendship. Singer/songwriter Mariam Al-Roubi will be performing All Things – songs inspired by her forthcoming album, arranged for string quartet and harp.

There will also be sensual and romantic music from composers that include Monteverdi, Puccini, Caplet, Philip Glass, and new arrangements of tangos by Piazzolla and Gardel.

Chrysanthemums will initially be performed as follows:

Friday 17th April 2015, 8pm at the Trinity Arts Centre, Tunbridge Wells, Kent

Tuesday 21 April 2015, 7.30pm at the Gulbenkian Theatre in Canterbury, Kent

If you want to be instrumental (pun intended) in both the creation and performance of beautiful music and know that your contribution and vision made it happen, please check our link.

http://www.sponsume.com/project/mirabai-project-presents-chrysanthemums

The crowdfunding campaign ends on 2nd February 2015 – so we now have less than a month to achieve our target of £2590 (eek!). To date we have 5 backers and have raised £425 towards commissioning new work, and I am so grateful to everyone who has supported us this far.

Any contribution would be welcomed. (See, I kind of asked!) But whether or not you can donate, I’d be truly grateful if you could share the link via social media and help to spread the word – and we sincerely hope you will come to the concerts!  Thank you!

Related posts:

https://creatabot.co.uk/2012/11/01/garrets-and-gatekeepers-by-jane-ayres/

https://creatabot.co.uk/2013/06/30/crista-cloutier-the-video-all-creatives-need-to-see/

https://creatabot.co.uk/2013/03/20/what-you-need-to-know-about-crowdfunding-by-crista-cloutier/

Links:

http://artsfundraising.org.uk/training/

http://www.fundraising.co.uk/

 Photo from Mirabai, Barry Seaman

For creative writers and music lovers: Two intriguing day schools in Canterbury

Tango from Mirabai (Barry Seaman)

Award winning Kent composer Barry Seaman offers an innovative day school series that will appeal to writers, dramatists, music and film lovers, and across the creative spectrum.

Music for Writers 1, on the 25 October, is called Love, War and Trains, and explores the connections and relationships between poetry, verse drama and music. This Day School will be of interest to creative writers and music enthusiasts, and anyone intrigued by the way that words and music can be combined to create drama and emotion. The vivid and imaginative use of language is discussed using a variety of dramatic works that include Samuel Beckett’s Words and Music, and atmospheric verse dramas for radio that include Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas and the extraordinary Love, War and Trains by celebrated author Ian McMillan. Ways that writers, poets and composers work together will be studied and celebrated.

On November 22, Music for Writers 2: Emotion, Music and Moving Image looks at the ways music can be used to express and convey emotion and atmosphere when combined with the medium of film. What is the relationship between sound and image? Using case studies that include films such as The Go-Between (Joseph Losey), Last Year in Marienbad (Alain Resnais) and Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca and Psycho, these issues will be explored and examined.

Both Day Schools, which run from 10am, – 4pm, cost just £29.50.

To book please contact April Doyle via email to education.communityarts@canterbury.ac.uk or phone 01227 863451.

For more info go to http://www.canterbury.ac.uk/community-arts-education/day-schools/autumn-2014.asp

Garrets and Gatekeepers by Jane Ayres

Photograph by Chris Ayres
http://scubabeer.uk.to/jalbum

More than 30 years ago I wrote an article for the now defunct Composer magazine called Starving in Garrets.  It was all about how painfully difficult it was for composers to get their work performed and heard, and even harder to make a living from writing music.  In many ways, I don’t believe things have really changed that much for artists and creatives. There is still that struggle for discoverability.

I’m a writer, primarily.  But I’m also a musician and have worked with contemporary composers.   I recently read some sobering statistics for writers.  For example, in 2011 there were 211,269 self-published titles and out of at least 1.2 million titles published by the entire industry over the course of a year, almost 80% sell fewer than 100 copies. (source: http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2012/09/7-book-marketing-mistakes/)

So how on earth do you get people’s attention? If you are a writer, it’s pretty tough.  If you are a composer, it’s even harder. We measure success by fame and celebrity status, regardless of quality.  So if you aren’t yet a “name” you are largely invisible.   How do you get the “gatekeepers” to listen to your music, or read your work? For anyone to take you seriously? If you are lucky, maybe 1 in 30 people you contact might reply and follow up your work. Many years ago, I decided to speculatively contact film production companies about one of my books.  I sent 35 emails with a pitch, had 2 replies, and this resulted in one meeting with a producer.  I was told this was a pretty good result!

The more successful you are, the busier you become.  Famous people have a whole raft of assistants (gatekeepers) which make it even harder to be heard.  Even a negative reply is a response, which acknowledges your existence.  You have been read, listened to.  Your creation is personal and precious and being ignored is far worse than rejection, though you may not agree.

But negotiating huge organisations like the BBC, for example, can be like scaling an impenetrable fortress.  If anyone knows how you manage to get a Proms commission I would love to hear from you.

Of course, the internet provides a global shop window on an unprecedented level.  Writers can publish without publishers, artists can create online galleries, composers and musicians can put their work on platforms like You Tube.  We can let the public judge.  As Natasha said in a previous post, artists don’t generally follow their calling for the money.  But they do need to be acknowledged, and better still, enjoyed.  They want to share their work.  That’s the whole point.

And so, with Xmas looming on the horizon, I’m including a recently discovered You Tube link to a moving performance of a haunting  Carol which a Canadian choir have used for their candlelit procession over the past 5 years.  The music was written by a UK composer who should be far better known.  Simply beautiful!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIyhg8e04cI

To find out more about Jane’s publishing experiences, go to her blogwww.janeayres.blogspot.co.uk

Her trilogy of Matty Horse and Pony Adventures books for pre-teens and teens (and nostalgic older readers!) are available for Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. All profits from these stories are going to Redwings Horse Sanctuary.

Working For An Indie Record Label – Part 2 – By Luke Crook

Hello again!

So, the last article was a bit of a ramble aimed at some of the tech/admin steps you go through at a label to take a release from X tracks on a CD-R or Pendrive and getting it out to digital and physical retailers worldwide.

This time, lets talk about something that’s a little more…well, creative!

Artwork.

Next to the music itself, artwork is in my opinion the next more important part of a release. Before streaming music became so incredibly popular, all you had to go on was if you’d heard it on the radio and how awesome the front cover looked!

So, where do you start?

Well, first things first, you need an idea. Whilst it might sound stupid, you can waste a lot of time if you don’t have some direction, because more often than not, the music is more or less done before the artwork starts, and no-one wants to rush. Following that, you need a designer to put it all together. This can take some time too, so make sure you’re looking out for one. Check out other CD designs you like, artwork, even book covers. Students are good, as they are cheap! Friends are even better! Discussions about whether you can gloss finish, matte finish, pantones/fluros (neon colours), metallic effects, how many pages you want in your booklet/inlay, how you want your digipack to fold and open will follow that. Lots of fun!

Then, once you’ve got a designer working on your great idea, you need to work out formats. CD/Limited Edition CD/LP/Digital/Magical Unicorn Edition.

Now, on the surface, a pack shot (Album Cover) is a pack shot, but format changes everything. CD’s are fairly straight forward and versatile. If it’s a jewel case, your inlay/booklet doubles up as your pack shot! Yaaay! All you need after that is your artwork for under the tray (where the CD slots) and artwork for the back of the case, which more often than not has the track listing. Digipacks are slightly different, because it’s all printed onto one piece of card and then folded. It can be gatefold, 2 fold, 3 fold (Rammsteins latest release opened out 5 ways if memory serves!). You need to remember where the slot for your inlay (if you have one) is going if you have one too!

Now, before I go any further, I’ve forgotten to mention one of the most important aspects of artwork. Label Copy. Label copy is essential the bible for the release. It’s a document containing everything about the album/single. Catalogue number, artist, title, track listing, publishers, copyright and publishing rights, collaborators, thank yous, websites and loads more. Most of this will go into your booklet and back cover for legal and information reasons.

Great, that’s the CD covered. Oh…what about the LP? No booklet there (Unless you’re feeling fancy!). So, you’ve not got to go back and ask your designer very nicely if he/she can do you a whole new template. Front and back sleeve (And center if it’s a gatefold) and stickers for the vinyl. This leads me back to my point about making sure you know all your formats before you go to design, otherwise you’ll: A. Irritate your designer or B. End up having to pay more for another format design. LP’s tend to have a far more stripped down label copy on them, purely for the sake of space.

Digitally, its pretty simple. Just a packshot. Bliss. Through iTunes you can also get a digital booklet to go with it if you want, as an added extra.

All of that, when all most people will ever see is the pack shot, when they walk past it in the shops or scroll past online. That’s your one chance to catch their attention and get them interested. The rest, that’s their reward for picking it up.

Always run it past your artist for approval. They don’t need to see it at every stage, just when there is a significant change or update.

Oh, and don’t forget to proof read it. Lots!

by Luke Crook

Area:   UK   Britain   East of England   East Midlands   London  North East   North West    Yorkshire    Scotland   South East    South West    Wales   West Midlands