Vinyl Is Here to Stay: The Doorbells Crowfund a New Record

"Want Your Evil" is the debut that starts it all, and The Doorbells invites you to be a part of it. We love this band at RocketHub and wanted to learn more about their unique vinyl-making crowdfunding campaign: What was the inspiration behind the music project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you? The inspiration behind this project was to create a way for fans, friends, and family to feel as if they all have a hand in the 1st release of us. They already are the reason that we can put together a project like this but it furthers their staple as part of the group. We also are doing this for the fact that vinyl is still the best way to listen to music and to receive a timeless piece of art as well. This is important to us because we want involvement from everyone who supports us and this gives them the chance to. Great way to build fan engagement. How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of music, particularly from the Midwest - how are your supporters responding? The experience has been great. It’s a great way for artists to share their passion with the people who support it in a more connected fashion other than just the music. Our supporters are responding with mixed reviews but mostly good. It’s been a slow start but momentum is picking up fast the more people become aware of the project. Keep up the momentum. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? The only advice I could give would be to just talk about the project as much as possible and let them know what it is really about. Promote the hell out of it. Good advice. Great music. Listen and join the ride, here. -Vlad

Read the full post »

  • May 13, 2011

Hit Us With Your Best Shot: The Artsicle Photography Show

RocketHub and Artsicle will open the doors to the New York City art scene for emerging photographers through the Artsicle Photography Show in the summer of 2011. This show will give photographers very scarce and sought-after resources: creative real estate, promotion, and connections in the art capital of the world. This is our second LaunchPad Opportunity™ and it offers a chance to show your photographs at a cool Chelsea gallery. Five chosen photographers will receive: An exclusive spot in a photography exhibit, including an opening-night gala celebration. The option to sell at the gallery and to distribute work through Artsicle’s curated marketplace. Portfolio feedback from art industry notables throughout the week. Top-notch photographers have already jumped in, so hit us with your best shot. We’re proud to offer opportunities beyond funding to our awesome community of creative people. You can expect more LaunchPad opportunities in other sectors such as film, gaming, music and design. So stay tuned. -The RocketHub Team

Read the full post »

  • May 11, 2011

From Baltimore, A Cool New Sound from a Family Band

Five Smooth Stones is a family band from northern Baltimore County, Maryland (aka The Hereford Zone).  Andrew, Colvin and Tom Franklin and Kathryn Clarke blend diverse musical influences, such as Jars of Clay, newsboys, Switchfoot, Audio Adrenaline, Third Day, Mute Math, Dave Matthews Band, David Crowder Band and more. I had the pleasure of chatting with Tom, aka Fu Manchuman, of Five Smooth Stones about their very successful crowdfunding campaign: What was the inspiration behind the music project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you? The band, Five Smooth Stones, is a great blessing in my life- it is comprised of myself (real name Tom) on guitar & vocals, my daughter Kathryn on guitar & vocals, my son Andrew on drums & vocals and my nephew Colvin on bass and vocals. The band, formed several years ago, has been performing regionally and created a CD project in 2009 called Life From Dust. Over the next couple years, we were writing more personal songs and the music we were making developed and matured, and so it came time to get to recording a new project. We determined that we have an opportunity to create a top-notch album musically, and we want to match the packaging to that. So, after spending time in a cabin in Pennsylvania recording the basic tracks, we contacted a great designer to begin work on the packaging. We also researched the costs and options for producing the packaging, as well as put together a plan to market/promote the project. At that point we saw that we could make a really nice package for the fans with a little more cash- we had some funds earmarked for the project which had been accumulated from CD & t-shirt sales and gigging income- and we had heard about crowd-funding from several sources, so we checked out several sites. We chose RocketHub based on several factors, the most important being the feeling that RH was really focused on helping the artists and providing added opportunities for us. We have built a small base of loyal fans and we want to give them a great album to listen to, look at and enjoy. The songs are about the struggles of this life and the hope we have for better days, both now and in eternity, and we have a strong desire to share the message of hope with as many as we can. We love family bands from Baltimore :) How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of music - how are your supporters responding? It’s been fun and challenging. The process of setting up the RocketHub project was simple, making the video was fun as well as deciding on the rewards for our fuelers. Our friends & fans have been very receptive and we are thankful for their support. It has been a great, added opportunity to connect with them and has opened some additional doors for the band as well. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? Have a plan for getting the word out and make sure you tell everyone. Our biggest contribution came from an unexpected source, and if we hadn’t spread the word around we might end up short. Also, don’t be afraid to remind people and follow-up… people mean well and want to help, but this is a fast-paced world and they get distracted or it slips their mind. In fact, I’m need to call some folks right now… Thank you Five Smooth Stones for your refreshing sound and rockin’ campaign. You can still join the fun, here. -Vlad

Read the full post »

  • May 10, 2011

Rufus Khan: Not Just Another Improv Troupe

Rufus Khan is an innovative improv comedy troupe based in Brooklyn, New York. They keep the audience laughing with bizarre scenarios, memorable characters, and, of course, the occasional one-liner. The Rufus Khan team consists of Brendan Collins, Daniel Klein, Cem Uyanik, Jamie Rosler, Eric Austin, and Laura Darrell. They are leveraging the power of crowdfunding in order to fund future shows and development. We spoke with them about their campaign and about their creative process: What was the inspiration behind the improv theatre project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you? First and foremost, laughter. Our deep desire to laugh and to make others laugh by playfully humiliating ourselves in front of a bunch of strangers. Some people call it unhealthy; we call it fun. We’ve also been influenced by subway panhandlers. Clearly, begging is funny, and gives you a great opportunity to perfect your sign writing skills. Living and working in New York City can drain you of your energy, your time, and your money, as well as making you wonder if all people are just innately awful. We hope that a RocketHub campaign will restore our faith and confidence in the general goodness of humanity, and also help provide us with more opportunities to challenge ourselves, inspire our friends and fans, and supply that much needed escape for anyone who’s just looking to have some good, usually clean, fun. Awesome! How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of improv theatre - how are your supporters responding? Our experience has been great, especially when we can get people’s attention. They all think they’re so important and busy with their lives and jobs and children.  After our most recent show, we received literally tons of positive feedback; our backs are just now getting over the aches and pains of carrying it all. People asked about our next performance, having videos made for people who missed the show, and just generally stroked our fragile egos. Monetary donations are always a harder animal to catch, especially in the midst of an economic downturn. We’ve made big strides, though, and are steadily making our way to the goal we set. You’ve caught our attention :) You’ve built a lot of momentum quickly. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? Nagging and stalking have been our main routes to success. Pretend to be interested in other people’s lives, and don’t be afraid to hide in someone’s bushes or linen closet. Think of all the internet and social media attack strategies at your disposal and just go for it. Be playful, witty, and fun when seeking support so that you’re always bringing people entertainment. Even crack dealers know that the first hit should always be free. After that, don’t be afraid to prod; if you don’t seek out donations, no one’s going to do it for you. Most importantly, have confidence that you deserve what you’re asking for, and that if it’s what you really want, you can make it happen. For us, it comes down to honesty, heart, and that slightly offensive joke about nuns that you overheard in the elevator last week. Thank you Rufus Khan team for your funny work and refreshing campaign. Check them out here. -Vlad

Read the full post »

  • May 9, 2011

The Crowdfunding Chocolateers

Chocolate and crowdfunding go together like chocolate and…peanut butter. Crowdfunding is the new peanut butter? Michael Sacco thinks so. This renaissance man is successfully taking his chocolaty aspirations to the crowd. Michael is looking to fund the construction of two machines that are integral to his up-and-coming chocolate factory! I spoke to Michael about his endeavor: What was the inspiration behind the cool invention project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you? ChocoSol was started as a research project at the grassroots in Oaxaca Mexico. Our goal is to create an ecological production model for making chocolate that is accessible to people with lots of initiative and only a little capital. Moreover, it is designed to be an example of alternatives to destructive development. The idea is to create beacons of change that utilize ecological agriculture and production methods, and in sharing the delicious and nutritious food products thereby produced to educate and engage people. It is similar to the trade, not aid philosophy of RocketHub, and in this sense we see ourselves as a learning community social enterprise. Experimentation is keep to good crowdfunding. You’ve built a lot of momentum quickly. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? Honestly, I think we have kind of tapered off. The key to a good crowdfunding is consistantly promoting it. However, some of the cashflow constraints make this difficult. Perhaps a monthly payout would be helpful for small enterprises like ChocoSol. However, I have to say that the site and the idea are fantastic, and the infrastructure and design are very attractive and communicative. Successful crowdfunding takes work - keep at it and you will be successful. Check out this tasty project, here. -Vlad

Read the full post »

  • May 6, 2011

Backstage at Tomato’s House of Rock with Chris “Tomato” Harfenist

—- Crowdfunding is an empowering endeavor. RocketHub is a community, a platform, and a revolution empowering your crowdfunding adventure. There are many other valuable tools available to Creatives that make an impact. Because of this, we launch feature stories with a goal to highlight other organizations that share our empowerment ethos. —- Tomato’s House Of Rock (THOR) is a rock music school for seriously creative young musicians founded by Chris “Tomato” Harfenist, the leader of cult-fave alt-rock band, The Sound Of Urchin.  More than just a rock school or music club, THOR rocks elite venues (including The Highline Ballroom, BB Kings, and Brooklyn Bowl) and works with artists from world-renowned bands (including members from Furthur, Iron Maiden, Buzzcocks, Twisted Sister, Ween, Testament, Guided By Voices, and others). Through THOR, students have also met with executives from major labels, MTV, and VH1, and have performed on ABC and Sirius Satelite Radio networks. Tomato has 15 years experience teaching and mentoring young rock musicians and we had the chance to connect and get a firsthand look at the good work happening at THOR. We at RocketHub love the mission, vibe, and feel of Tomato’s House of Rock. What’s the most exciting aspect to you in regards to your role with the school? The most exciting thing for me is to watch these talented young musicians come into their own.  My main job, in regards to them, is to help guide their growth into becoming their own creative personality.  There is no lesson book for this kind of stuff, of course, so the reward for me are those moments where I see that spark of individual originality come to the forefront… it’s that thing that gets us into music in the first place and when I see it I know that I am doing something right. You have a fascinating background as a successful touring musician, and now you leverage that expertise by coaching and mentoring young artists - do you find that the kids “teach” you any lessons as well? Ha ha ha, of course!  They teach me all the time, and in so many ways.  I see parts of my young musical self in them at times, my current self, and even my future self.  The great thing about music is that if you love it, there is no real age-gap issue… I talk to the THOR members about music like I talk to my friends who have made hit records.  I haven’t met a good musician who feels they can’t learn anything more about music or the creative process. What live events does THOR have coming up the Spring and Summer? We just did a 9 band Original Music Showcase at The Knitting Factory and played the Tribeca Film Festival this past weekend, we are working with Steve Garvey from The Buzzcocks this coming weekend… we have a show in May in Stuy-Town, June at The Highline Ballroom with special guests including Alex Skolnick from Testament.  And then we are preparing for shows with Gene Ween and a “Big Three” 1986 Metal Tribute over the summer. Does that answer your question?  ha ha  It sure does! Much thanks for the insight and we look forward to seeing more great music emerging from your community. -Brian photos courtesy of tomatoshouseofrock.com

Read the full post »

  • May 5, 2011

From Argentina with Love and Care

Crowdfunding can be a powerful source of pro-social good. The Por el Barrio Libertad team is proving that social support can be galvanized from across the world. Through RocketHub, this passionate team is helping children in impoverished area of Buenos Aires. Here is how they see it: What was the inspiration behind the international education and support project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you? Our main motivation in the project is the Barrio Libertad´s children and their ability to access to better opportunities in the present and future through education, art and recreation. Barrio Libertad is a very humble neighborhood of the Buenos Aires province. Nearly seventy families are living there in an unhygienic situation. The homes are dilapidated and without access to key public services. In major cases, the vital needs are not fulfilled. Children face very difficult conditions for development. After an intensive 2010 we are focusing the project on the district’s children. The project mainly aims to set up a place for the children between five and twelve years old, in which they could receive school support, entertainment and supervision. We believe that these first years of life are fundamental. It is critical for them to get tools that allow them to interact and integrate in the society and in an increasingly complex world – a complex world which for sure is difficult, but that also offers new opportunities. RocketHub is one of these opportunities. It is an innovative way that enables us to share our project, to find support, and to make it visible to the world. Something that was impossible to achieve some years ago. How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of pro-social work in Argentina - how are your supporters responding? Many social projects exist in Argentina, but we believe our project “Por el Barrio Libertad” is innovative. It aims to integrate the physical space with the web space to generate concrete actions that impact children´s life quality. We use social networks to go near more collaborators. We receive support from donors who are part of our circles of contacts, but also from the USA, France and England.  In Argentina, we are pioneers in this area. We confront difficulties with strategy; because in our country people are reluctant to use their credit card online. This use is emerging, for that reason we designed a video explaining how to use the platform. Experiences of this nature will be more frequent in a few years, gradually people will know and trust the system. We invite all Argentines to dare projects!  Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? The platform is not only a presence online, it is a dynamic thing. Design the page on RocketHub to let people know that both the project and the Internet site are transparent and sure - is a first step. Then you have to update the content permanently, to answer and to try to anticipate the reactions you receive. Do not expect donors to come, but go and find them with an active broadcast of the page and the project. Internet allows everyone a fast and easy access to a lot of information. But information must be innovatively clear to be understood and well received. We endeavor to give visibility to projects, and so to realize our dreams! Thank you for taking this brave approach to Argentina. Get involved, here. -Vlad

Read the full post »

  • May 4, 2011

RocketHub’s Takeoff Artist of The Month, April 2011 - John Schmitt

Spike Hill in Williamsburg, Brooklyn hosts RocketHub’s Takeoff Tuesday - a weekly music series designed to entertain and support musical artists through networking, workshops and career enhancing showcases.  Every month an exceptional artist is highlighted here on RocketHub, and the April spotlight goes to John Schmitt - one of New York City’s most exciting young storytellers.   John Schmitt was born and raised in Buffalo, NY, and his songs are a direct reflection of his experiences growing up there. John is a three-time ASCAPLUS Award Winner for new artists, a 2008 winner of the SongCircle Songwriting Contest, 2006 ArtVoice Magazine nominee for best musician…Now he has the distinction of being RocketHub’s Takeoff Artist of The Month for April 2011. We had the chance to talk with John about his creative process and upcoming projects: Tell us about what subjects inspire you as a songwriter I get inspired by so many things!  People I see on the subway, writing on a billboard, other friends’ music, and my own personal interactions.  Lately, I’ve been using images from popular literature, like Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” as imagery to use while writing.  I really don’t have a set system for writing, as a result! I saw that you opened up for Dave Matthews Band! That’s pretty awesome, how did that happen? The DMB show was really incredible.  I got to play it with my friend Caleb Hawley, and Byron Zanos.  We were contacted by SongCircle, a NYC-based company that runs showcases and songwriting contests, and asked if we could play.  I immediately jumped at it, and my Mother flew in from Buffalo, along with my sister and my aunt.  It was such a great time, the crowd was great, and best of all, I had a great vantage point to see the DMB show! What projects do you have upcoming that are most exciting to you? My next project is to record my song “Going Back”, my newest song.  Everyone tells me how much they like that song, and wish they had a definitive audio version.  So, I’m using RocketHub to fund the project, which should be up this week.  I will be touring the Midwest, the South, and California this year, and will be going to Europe in 2012!   Congrats John! and much thanks for being a part of our creative community.  -Brian John is currently touring the U.S., and has opened for major artists such as Ingrid Michaelson, Allison Kraus, and Dave Matthews Band. For more info on what John is up to - check out http://johnschmittmusic.wordpress.com/   

Read the full post »

  • May 3, 2011

Classical Theatre Becomes New in Toronto

Scott Moyle is bringing classical theatre to the future. His Urban Bard Productions is a recently-formed Toronto theatre company. They do classical theatre in unusual places, staging awesome plays in urban locations to tell the story in a way that is fresh, accessible, and exciting. Their previous productions of ‘Twelfth Night’ and ‘The Two Noble Kinsmen’ were huge successes. Now, Scott is looking to crowdfund ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and was gracious enough to share his thoughts about the process with me: What was the inspiration behind the classical theatre project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you? Urban Bard Productions is at a tricky point right now: we’re really starting to pick up creative momentum, and our reputation is picking up substantial momentum beyond our immediate circle of contacts. But we’re running on empty financially, because part of our mandate is keeping classical theatre accessible with a Pay-What-You-Can admission cost, so we’ve only ever managed to break even. RocketHub seemed like a great opportunity to get the season on its feet, while also raising some awareness of the company. This specific project, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, is a play that’s very dear to me: it was the first play I directed way back in highschool, it’s one of Shakespeare’s funniest works, and it’s a show that we have exactly the right cast for right now. Oh, and it’s a great contrast to the show we’ve got planned to follow it up: the dark and disturbing Richard III. Sounds like it’s the perfect time for a crowdfunding campaign. How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of theatre in Canada - how are your supporters responding? I’m having a great time. I knew we had plenty of people who support and value our work, but I had no clue how dramatically RocketHub would galvanise them around this project - I just about fell out of my seat when our first $500 fueler showed up! It was also a fantastic exercise to think through potential rewards, particularly the ones that take advantage of Urban Bard’s unique approach to staging the classics. This whole experience is proving tremendously fun right now, and (at the time of writing) our campaign still has seven weeks to go, so I’m really excited to see what happens next. Our supporters are responding with an overwhelming amount of positive feedback and generosity - we’re 10% of the way through our campaign and we’re nearly halfway to our goal. I couldn’t ask for better friends, colleagues, and supporters. We’re glad that we can play a small part in your success. You’ve built a lot of momentum quickly. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a similar project? Having a good bit of video seems to have made a substantial difference. It’s crazy enough that strangers are intrigued, but sticks close enough to the aesthetic of our previous shows that our fans can relate to it. Janine Harris of Keyring Media donated her time and equipment and expertise to make the video look as professional as it does, and we went through a lot of drafts of that speech to make sure the message was clear, entertaining, and representative of our brand. And, of course, a small army of my talented friends showed up and did amazing things on the day of the shoot - the actors were so great that we got it in just three takes! Never underestimate the power of the soft sell! Very few of the messages that I’ve sent around have had a request for financial support, because the video does that all on its own. All I’ve done is ask people to check out the video (promising a swordfight and knife-juggling probably helps), and linked them to the RocketHub page. A hard sell right in the initial message could turn potential fuelers off, but there’s a lot of merit in showing them a sample of of our work before asking for their support. And finally, though this may seem obvious, the blog at rockethub.org has an insane amount of priceless advice for potential Creatives. A great deal of what we’ve done has followed the strategies laid out on the blog, and it seems to be paying off spectacularly well. Rather than reinventing the wheel, potential Creatives would do well to look at what successful campaigns have in common. There is huge room in a campaign’s content for originality, but I think the structure of a successful campaign is probably pretty clear. Thank you Scott and Urban Bard for your awesome project and innovative take on theare. Check out one of the best pitch videos we’ve ever see, here. -Vlad  

Read the full post »

  • May 2, 2011

From Italy: Gallo & The Roosters Make a New Sound

Danilo Gallo is looking to make his third record by leveraging the power of a global crowd. He comes to RocketHub all the way from Italy and I had the pleasure to quickly learn a bit more about his campaign: What was the inspiration behind the music project you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is it important to you? The music project I’m running on rockethub is basically the band which I lead and for which I write, I compose and arrange everything. So on one hand it is a challenge, on the other hand, it is the natural evolution of my musical point of view, as I’ve already made two albums with this band, and this project will help to make the third one. So it’s very important for my musical growth. How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of music in Italy - how are your supporters responding? I heard about RocketHub from friends, musicians, and so I was very curious and I find this way of crowdfunding very innovative and “fresh”. The response is quite good, I don’t know if I’m a pioneer, but after me many other musicians and collegues got interested with RocketHub and will try to do the same with their projects. Thanks Danilo for flying with team RocketHub. Check out Danilo’s great music here. -Vlad

Read the full post »

  • April 28, 2011