Labor Day celebrates the economic, social, and cultural value of workers. The definition of work has greatly evolved from when Labor Day was first celebrated in 1882. Today, the new and expanding Creative Class takes on an ever-more important share of economic responsibility and cultural contribution. From James Portnow to Sara Barbas to Mladen Lijesnic to Jenn Leggett to Hashem Assadullahi to Michal Bilick, and to countless others - the RocketHub community is personified by great labor of love, inspiration, innovation, art, and utility. Our team is proud to support the Creative Class. From artists to entrepreneurs to philanthropists to awesome organizations (large and small), we work for and alongside some of the most passionate, talented, and interesting groups and individuals. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but it’s all very good and quite rewarding. Happy Labor Day! -The RocketHub Team Images courtesy of Nasa Images.
Alma Micic was born and raised in Belgrade, Serbia. At the age of 16 she started performing with a local quartet and she’s been soaring ever since. Alma attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston and has been residining in New York since 2000. She has performed at prominent venues such as the Jazz Standard, Scullers, Iridium Jazz Club, Cecil’s Jazz Club as well as various international festivals and concert halls. Alma is now engaging her fans to crowdfund a third album and is the second in her family to experience success on RocketHub - her husband, Rale raised nearly $5,000 last year for his jazz guitar project. I spoke with Alma about her path and inspiration. I wanted to record an album of songs which excited and inspired me in many different ways, and I didn’t stick to traditional jazz standards or sound this time. The songs I wrote for this album came out of my experiences in the past year, my faith and a life full of love which I am so thankful for. I have a beautiful family which is my strong source of strength and energy for writing songs. The tunes I picked to do covers of are not the usual suspects- Sweet Child of Mine by Guns n’ Roses shaped my growing up in Belgrade as a teenager and Bob Dylan’s What Can I Do For You is a praise song that forever changed me. My producer and associate, great guitar player Doug Wamble joined me on this project and was the driving force behind the album’s heavily soulful sound. My supporters are very excited about this project, which is the first one I am funding this way, and about the great rewards they will receive. I am so happy to have so many people wanting to be a part of it! In a few words, what advice do you have for other artists looking to take this path? Believe in your project and tell the world about it. I can’t wait to hear you sing “Sweet Child of Mine!” Thank you for your project and congratulations on your success. Get the album here. -Vlad Images courtesy of almajazz.com, Kevin Hatt, and Aleksandar Kostic.
Tim MacMillan is biking 1,032 miles to raise funds and awareness for his theatre production of “Soul mates don’t die” in the Chicago Fringe Festival, Pilsen 2011. It’s quite a journey - physically, emotionally, and artistically. So we needed to get the lodown from Tim. What you’re doing seems both crazy and awesome. What was the inspiration behind your project “801 Miles” you are currently running on RocketHub? I looked up the area of where my play was going to be performed on Google earth and noticed that the area was littered with bike lanes. That started the wheels in my head. “Why not bike to Chicago?” I thought to myself. The idea turned into plans as plans turned into me biking up the Appalachians, run off the road by Ohio drivers and being chased by unleashed dogs as I cycled through Indiana. I have planned numerous fundraisers in the past that have succeeded and failed. I wanted to do something different, something really challenging and inspiring. This campaign with RocketHub has allowed me to explore why I am an artist as this entire experience encourages me to soar past my own boundaries of artistic capabilities. We’re glad to be able to help. How has your experience been as a crowdfunder in the world of theatre - how are your fans responding? They are shocked. Everyone, friends, family, fellow playwrights, strangers and even my campaign manager have been simply flabbergasted at the choice and gradual success of this campaign. People honestly don’t know how to respond when I relay my plan to raise money for my new play. The most inspiring thing about a crowdfunding website is talking about it. Hearing you, yourself relay your goals to strangers that aren’t aware of such possibilities. Dreams are real. They can turn into nightmares only if you allow them to drift into some that isn’t part of your goal. The average Joe, Charlotte, Quincy, Mary or Mohammed doesn’t have much in terms of financial capital. However what they do have is a hungry smile for inspiration something inspires them, feeds their smile, gives them something to believe in. Which is how this kind of fundraising works. Your momentum has been stellar. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a project? Do it. Try it. The more planning the bigger the success! If you are one artist, a nine piece band, a company seeking funds to launch a show or any endeavor that needs more than just funds. RocketHub does more than just serve as a site to view your project as it refines your credibility as an artist in whatever community you thrive in. Rock on Tim. We’re closely following your journey and have your back. Join the journey here. -Vlad
Caitlin Trainor lives and dances in New York City. She fell in love with the art form at Skidmore College and hasn’t looked back since - we’re proud to have her dedication and energy as part of the RocketHub community. Today she directs Trainor Dance and is on the faculty at Barnard College/Columbia University. Trainor Dance is a small dance company getting ready to produce its first independent show. This is where crowdfunding and RocketHub have come in. I spoke with Caitlin about her project and the uniqueness of crowdfunding in the dance world. There are two pieces on the program for the fall concert - and each is quite different in terms of inspiration. The first piece, Digital Origami, began with a scrap of movement that intrigued me. That scrap was something that I “found” years back, on another dancer, who moved in a completely different way than I do. His slender, delicately muscled body appeared to be collapsing as he moved; his actions appeared simply as a folding of the joints, each movement the inevitable outcome of the previous. In my robust, muscular body this silky movement felt foreign. I wondered what it would feel like to be in his skin, and began experimenting with this idea of folding, collapsing, inevitability, eventually developing a movement phrase around it. Fast forward 8 years. While on artistic sojourn in Northern England, I found myself returning to the phrase. Only now, this bit of material started to take on a testiness, an insistent push and pull with the floor, not unlike what I was feeling as an outsider living in a traditional society. Coincidentally or not, I became interested in tight, traditional ways of organizing movement, such as unison and canon movement, which can be very satisfying visually but are considered somewhat passe in NY art dance circles. From within this detailed and structured movement, some wild, uncontrolled outbursts of movement began to emerge. These were primal and loose, textured with vibration and full bodied partnering. As the piece began to take shape, the dancers appeared more and more to me to be like cogs in some kind of great machine on the verge of combustion. Animalistic impulses strain against precise, structured movements, not unlike the the individual pressing into a stratified society, or the human being interacting with technology. The functions of computers depend on sequencing of ones and zeros, yet human beings, for whom these machines have become so indispensable, are driven by appetite, impulse, and desire. Also on the program for our concert is ORBit, a visual odyssey based around the use of giant meteorological balloons. In terms of inspiration, I just thought the idea of using these giant colorful balloons would be so incredibly fun! I have always been fascinated by the movement of cosmic bodies, and so we have used the ideas of planetary motion, black holes, shooting stars, magnetism and gravity as a springboard for creating the piece. As for why the work is important to me, that is hard to say! After survival, love and dance are the most important things in life for me. Like many artists, I suppose that on some level, I am on a quest for meaning. Somehow making art makes sense, despite it’s utter impracticality. The fact that art, something so unessential to physical survival, exists in cultures rich and poor, ancient and modern, amazes me. The persistence of the arts though out history and across the globe points to something very fundamental in the human spirit. And that unnameable something is what I am chasing when I get up every morning and pack my sweats for another day in the studio. Your spirit comes across very powerfully. How have you translated this inspiration into your crowdfunding campaign? My experience as a crowdfunding pioneer has been great! Supporters have been stepping forward to help out and we are off to a great start. My advice to anyone who wants to give it a shot is to be prepared to do the work that goes into making the campaign happen. In a sense, you really earn the money contributed to the project because the campaign takes a lot time to organize and implement properly! However, the process can sharpen your ability to write and speak clearly about your work, which is very useful in engaging audiences and potential contributors. That’s great advice. Thank you Caitlin for bringing your project to the world and the RocketHub community. Get your tickets and other rewards, here. -Vlad
Minnesota-based Karl Remus is a young and talented musician who utilizing the power of crowdfunding to galvanize his fans and raise funds to make the important first EP. I took the time to catch up with Karl to talk about his success and his next career moves. So how has this process been for you? It has been a completely positive experience! To be honest I was unsure how this all would play out. But I’ve discovered that I have supporters that I never knew I had. Not only in Minnesota have people been fueling the project, but from various states across the US. As a musician on the rise and basically in the process of launching my career it is very exciting to see some much benevolence from people that I don’t personally know. The inspiration is solely life experiences. I wrote all the songs on the new CD over the course of the past year. You can learn a lot about me by listening closely to the themes, lyrics and different colors that fill each song. Each song takes on a certain emotion or feeling that I felt at some point, and I translated them into the language of music. Sometimes in a metaphorical way, sometimes extremely direct. Songwriting is a complete win-win in every way. It is therapy for me because I get rid of all the emotions I keep locked up. But not only does it benefit me, it touches the listeners in someway or another, whether it be melancholy or joy. Sweet! You’ve done quite well. Any advice for other musicians? The best advice I can give is be sincere in your purpose. Be honest and show gratitude to your targeted supporters and they will respond with great success. Give a plethora of information about your cause. Cover all forms of media; videos, audio and text. The more substance that you give the supporters, the more likely they will help out. Also set a modest financial goal, test the waters and don’t be afraid to take risks. Branch out to as many people as possible. Make personal phone calls and emails to directly explain the project to them. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Keep up the good work Karl. Hear Karl’s music and get involved. -Vlad
Vergetone is a production company headed up by Berklee College of Music grad (and all around nice guy), Mike Baldo. Mike is “tripple dipping” in three cities with happening music scenes - NYC, Boston, and Buffalo - and has projects taking shape in each spot. His RocketHub campaign is for an album comprised of 10 of the Buffalo’s coolest artists and bands, and we recently caught up to get the scoop. What was the inspiration behind your music project “Best of Buffalo Benefit Album” you are currently running on RocketHub? Why is it so important to you as an artist and community leader? The idea for the Best of Buffalo album came from my experience growing up as a musician in Buffalo and the recent budget cuts in Buffalo music education programs. It’s increasingly more difficult for aspiring musicians to get opportunities they need to learn and experience music in the city. I’m hoping that this project will raise awareness about the talented music community in Buffalo and that our donations to The Music is Art Foundation will help give young musicians the chance to pursue their passion. How has your experience been as a collaborative crowdfunder in the world of music - how are your fans and community responding? The crowdfunding experience has been incredible. It’s given myself and Vergetone productions a surprisingly detailed view into the music community and industry. The loyalty in the Buffalo community is amazing, and we’ve really seen some strong support. It’s great to see such enthusiasm from our friends and fans who may not even be from Buffalo, but just want to help out a good cause and hear some great music! Any advice, tips, or tricks for other Creatives looking to crowdfund a project? My advice would be to stay as genuine and passionate about your project as possible. Fans, listeners, and supporters in the music industry are very intuitive. If you live for your art, they’ll recognize that and be eager to help. Hard work and passion in music will always deliver an amazing creative result and your fans will be sure to get involved. Much appreciate the good insights here Mike - great to have your talents and passion on RocketHub! Brian
The RocketHub team needs your support and votes to head back to Austin. In 2011 we rocked SXSW with two sweet panels and now we’re upping the ante. Here is what we have planned: Film Funderstorm: Can Crowdfunding Make it Rain? If crowdfunding is based on the belief that the power of many small contributions in aggregate can become significant, then how does crowdfunding best work for films - and how can filmmakers leverage this emerging phenomena? http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/12437 Beethoven + Social Media = Crowdfunding Patronage Learn how to finance your album, tour, and other musical endeavors. Crowdfunding is based on the belief that the power of many small contributions in aggregate can become significant. Artists are more connected to their fans than ever before, while modern social networking makes reaching out simple and virtually free. These trends set the stage for this new micro-patronage model - and this panel sheds light on how best to harness the crowd for funding and awareness for your next music project. http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/11864 The Game of Crowdfunding $100K The Extra Credits RocketHub project has raised over $100,000 in under two months with 4,000 contributors - making it a bona fide crowdfunding hit. Join Vladimir Vukicevic (CTO & Co-Founder of RocketHub) as he interviews James Portnow (Game designer, Gamasutra writer and Escapist contributor) about his web series Extra Credits -a show that discusses game design and the positive impact that games can have on humanity. Vlad and James will also explore the Extra Credits crowdfunding campaign that has raised $100,000 (and counting). http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/12936 Join the fun and drop us a few votes. The whole RocketHub team will be very appreciative! -The RocketHub Team
Photography is a blossoming artform on RocketHub. From the RocketHub/Artsicle Photograph Show to Tony Fouhse’s recent success, the still image is alive and well. Johan Hallberg-Campbell is taking photography to the edge. He is planning to photograph the fishing town of La Poile, Newfoundland with an estimated population of 100 - one of the smallest and most interesting towns in North America. I spoke to Johan about his project. What was the inspiration behind the photography project you are currently running on RocketHub? Why is it important to you? I was brought up in the Highlands of Scotland by my Swedish Mother. Being half Swedish I was often considered to be foreign, slightly different, even though born and raised in Scotland. My father was from a small fishing community in Scotland called Scalpay, he was relocated from the island to the mainland by his family at a young age. Growing up, periodically when I saw him and his mother, I heard about Scalpay. The Island was like a fairy tale to me, far away on a distant planet, stories of crofts, religion and fishing. Two years ago, I decided to go to Scalpay and see for myself, I was welcomed as a lost relative, and told that there had not been a birth in seven years. The Gaelic speaking Islands fishing tradition was fading away, and the people of old with it. The last corner shop closed in 2007, the pre-school also shut down that year. The primary school has two or three pupils and there is no High School. Over the years the population had sunk to 250. I became interested in exploring what it means to belong to a community and have traditions rooted in heritage, and alternatively what happens when one’s “place” is altered, removed, distorted and shifted. I began documenting Scalpay in Scotland, which raised my awareness of a way of life that is disappearing not to slowly from our modern world of computers and ipads, not only in Scotland but communities worldwide. I managed to get to Newfoundland last year and spent the final days with the remaining residents in a place called Grand Bruit before the resettlement of this coastal town. The aging population could no longer survive the harsh winters, their children had left to work elsewhere, the fishing industry was no longer what it once was, they had seen the end and the erosion of this culture. Now the town is no longer on the map, literally, it is gone. On my return boat journey leaving Grand Bruit, we passed La Poile and I had the chance to talk to a few of residents who got onto the boat. They strongly believed that La Poile could be next and watched with heavy hearts as Grand Bruit disappeared. I realized that it was important to continue photographing these communities, the words of David Morrison, a fishermen from Scalpay in Scotland ran clear in my mind, “If there is no young, there will be no old”. I am in Newfoundland now and ready to deliver a powerful story of life and people in the coastal town of La Poile, the un-spoilt wilderness, remote from everything we call civilization, yet facing enforced change as we move into the second decade of the 21st Century. This is a body of work that will be an archive, an archive that could capture for future generations, a people of the past. That’s a powerful mission. How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of photo art in Newfoundland - how are your supporters responding? In a challenging and hard industry, documentary photographers looking to create important bodies of work are finding it next to impossible to peruse the stories. Assignments are becoming rare these days, the budgets of publications are growing smaller, grants are far and few between. Crowdfunding not only helps to fund the making of these images, it also involves and encourages people to take part in the project, get close, be part of a community which I believe strongly in. They have helped to create a body of work by supporting the project, something that is really an amazing feeling, for the artist as well as the supporter. I was not sure what the response would be, I am very happy it has been strong and thank everybody who has so far been part of this with me. I believe that the people who have supported the work, with money and motivation, can see I am serious and passionate about creating a visual voice with my images, not only my voice, bit more importantly an honest representation of the people and environment I photograph. What advice do you have for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? I still have a way to go yet but yes, I do have some advice. It is important to respectfully push your project, get it out there by any means possible, talk to people, have an educated view and research your proposed project in-depth. Make sure to send an email everyday to new people, publications and blogs telling them about your proposal. Be to-the-point and clear with what the project is about and what you need to make it work. Crowdfounding can help with financial cost, but also is a great way to build momentum. The more people that hear, see and talk about your project the more relevant the work will become. We make images to be seen by others, so make sure that happens. Take care and good luck. Thank you Johan for your passion and committment. Join the journey, here. -Vlad
The Window Sex Project addresses an important community issue through live workshops and choreographed performances. It tackles the every day practice in which women are “window shopped,” that is forced to bear unsolicited verbal harassment from men while walking on the street. Sydnie L. Mosley, the bold and authentic woman behind this project, is self-producing this awesome project by involving her fans and her community. The inspiration behind this project was two-fold. First, as an emerging choreographer in New York City, I have spent the last couple of years developing my artistic voice and looking for my niche in the dance community. I realize that my work is not just about me, or art for art’s sake, but I really want to provide opportunities for people to feel human through dance. I want to engage their senses, physically and/or emotionally, with the performance. I believe it is important for the audience to be involved in the dance making process. In this way, they have a stake in the work. They feel connected, have an understanding and see that dance can serve a purpose beyond entertainment. Then, at some point last summer I was inspired to create a piece that would be sexy and celebratory of a woman’s body. At the same time, I was getting completely perturbed with all the harassment I would get walking around day or night, dressed bummy or fancy. I was tweeting about it almost every day, then collecting other women’s tweets and blogging about it. I’m not sure when exactly the connection occurred, but I realized that I could use this new dance work I was dreaming up to address this issue of street harassment that was getting me so upset. I wanted to celebrate my body and my whole self through this dance work, and to draw attention to the fact that no one has the right to make me feel like an object just because I set my feet to the pavement. New York can be both an inspiring and a tough city. How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of empowering dance with a mission in New York - how are your supporters responding? Every one who I tell about the project is excited about it. Street harassment is an issue that 80-100% of women will encounter at some point in their lives. That’s insane, right?! So given the commonality of the experience, people are ready and willing to jump on the bandwagon, and encourage their acquaintances to do the same. I think that people are also intrigued by this idea and method of community choreography. I am getting women, dancers and non-dancers alike, to tell their stories and move about them. I am then crafting that material into a performance with professional dancers. It’s not a new idea at all — Bill T. Jones had a similar process when he created Still/Here (1994). He held “survivor workshops” in ten U.S. cities working with the terminally ill to garner source material for his work. — yet, folks are thrilled at the thought and opportunity that they can be a part of the dance making process. The basis of this creative work is that it is about the community, which pairs perfectly with crowdfunding. My best advice is to reach out to all your communities and appeal to their commitment to not only you and your work, but a commitment to achieving something greater with the support of one another. Thank you Sydnie for your brave and innovative approach. As a Harlem-based company, the RH team is especially proud to have this project be a part of the community. We’re looking forward to seeing the performance. Get your tickets and get involved. -Vlad
Daniel Tashman is launching a geo-social digital service that connects people looking to play pickup games such as basketball or tennis. His platform connects sport enthusiasts with each other as well as venues, game sites, locations, events, and sport related commercial options local to them. And we think it’s an awesome idea - the RocketHub team is excited about testing it out. Daniel is crowdfunding the promotion process for his cool new application and I spoke with him about his experiences. I founded the parent company, Tomato Lightning, with the goal of creating active lifestyle electronics for young adults; Integrating technology in a physical way to help get the teen/tween more active. Get-A-Game connects people looking for pickup games and sport play and helps promote an active/healthy lifestyle. I wake up every morning feeling like I am trying to contribute something positive to the world. I’ve been thrilled with the response. Our goal is ambitious, but it’s been very rewarding to see the support of so many friends and colleagues. It’s very humbling having to ask for money, but when you get RocketHub emails throughout the day telling you that more people are fueling your project, it empowers you to press forward even harder. Be active In your crowdfunding. People need to understand the importance of what you are doing. Make personal calls, don’t just rely on digital media. Offer the best incentives you can afford. Thank you Daniel for your awesome new app and for flying with team RocketHub. Check out this project, here. -Vlad