Why We Ask, and Why I'm Asking Now

Note: To go straight to the campaign page to learn more, https://igg.me/at/NoreasterMiniDoc/x/21878834#/

When I started out on this crazy journey in the last millennium, I still worked as an Environmental Engineer; my paycheck was how I funded my first two albums - both on CD and cassette. In those days, once those production costs were recouped, album sales routinely made up a quarter of my annual income.

It was the golden age of digital and the birth of a whole new "do-it-yourself" industry, where the internet and creative software minds created new avenues to reach your fans directly. Websites, bulk email services and online music stores like CDBaby created a ton of new opportunities, and I was savvy about using them to build my audience and "brand".

Obviously "containerless" digital music started cutting into that revenue; streaming services essentially killed it completely. The companies monetizing the connection between artists and their fans are no longer small startups; it's big companies and corporations who have inserted themselves into that space. The Spotifys and Amazons are now essential to even have a fraction of the access we enjoyed just a few years ago, and they serve different masters on Wall Street rather than artists or listeners.

The value of radio airplay for driving sales has plummeted too. The curators and gatekeepers - the DJ voice we tuned in regularly to get turned on to new music - have been essentially supplanted by algorithms. Instead of buying albums or listening to local radio, we pay our monthly subscription fee to have access to a pile of 1s and 0s that would dwarf the great pyramids, the vast majority of which you will never hear.

Even with so many powerful DIY creative and marketing tools, without significant backing and licensing streams your favorite musicians and filmmakers simply no longer have the means to sustain themselves. We can't afford to keep producing art when there is no longer a market, let alone actually produce it at level to possibly be career-altering. For most everyone who works in the arts, from the studios, marketing and booking agents, publicists to the artists who create the work that feeds to them, the scenario is all too familiar. 

If one isn't a big name or on the track to become one, there is pretty much one way to do recordings, because for most of us there is simply no longer any real revenue from recording music to put aside for making the next project. We now also have to add "Professional Fundraiser" to our collection of hats. Sponsorships, patronage from individuals and organizations, pretty much all the ways one can line up funding to make an album or a film before one can actually spend the money and make it. 

Crowdfunding directly or through middleman sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo allows the people who know you and believe in your work to literally be part of creating it. In the decade or so between Something Worth Standing For and Treasures in My Chest, music sales went from being 23% of my income to around 5% - essentially not much more than a small royalty stream.

Treasures could not have happened three years ago without the support of family, friends and fans who believed in my work and were willing to invest in it. That support for my IndieGoGo campaign allowed me to make an ambitious project - an album AND a book - that I no longer have the revenue stream to fund myself. I will be eternally grateful for all of it! 

So the last of my pandemic projects is close to the finish line. One more really cool blast from the time capsule of my hard rocking youth; a video from Nor’easter's last show that we have woven into Rock Time in Your Town, a fine mini-documentary telling a familiar story from a different perspective. Dustin and I have put in countless hours doing all the editing and production work we can on our own. Chris and Paul made long voyages to Virginia for a studio weekend on their own time, William helped all weekend with the filming, etc. - you get the picture. 

We're making something really special, hopefully far enough to convince you once again that the artists and the art are worth investing in. One more IndieGoGo campaign to do something special and maybe get my art in front of some new audiences. If you're willing to join us, we'd all be grateful. Since I was a big part of the creativity then in making the music and now in telling the story, I'd be especially grateful.

Thanks for reading.

See the campaign video:

Leave a comment