RocketHub project “There’s a Hippopotamus on our Roof Eating Cake” is an Australian story that follows rogue 9-year-old Zoe (Portia Bradley) and a shower-singing, bike-riding, cake-eating Hippopotamus. The trailer looks and feels superb - and the production stars Portia Bradley (My Year Without Sex), Angus Sampson (Where The Wild Things Are), Bridie Carter (McLeod’s Daughters), Terry Camilleri (Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure), and Rob Alec (Eraser Children) - and is written & directed by Jaime Snyder We spoke with filmmaker Joel Sharpe from Pocket Bonfire on how this live action interpretation is bringing a new angle to this much loved 1980 classic. What was the inspiration behind film for “There’s a Hippopotamus on our Roof Eating Cake”? One Sunny morning, riding the train to university, my friend Jaime pulled a picture book out of his bag grinning to himself. We were in the process of brainstorming ideas for our next big film project and Jaime was revealing his latest brainwave, ‘There’s a Hippopotamus on our Roof Eating Cake,’ he’d found it in a box of old childhood things. I hadn’t read the book before, I was sure of it, how could you forget reading a book so bright, so funny, so whimsical. And so I was inspired with each turn of the page, Jaime explaining his ideas away, “a film of nostalgia, we’ll do it for real!” I agreed this was indeed a pretty darn good idea. So it grew and grew, more than we would know, at the heart of it, we just wanted to make a really good film. That’s a great story - how has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of filmmaking - how are your fans responding? Filmmaking is a really challenging medium where making money is extremely unlikely, especially when working on short films. Therefore raising funds has to come from people who just want to support you or the project and finding people who are willing to part with money for little or no return is a challenge in itself. It is something that we have had to consider from the start of this project, but it is also something that we have decided to face head on. Crowdfunding is great because you really get to take full advantage of the Internets networking ability. You can spread the word faster and you don’t have to pull crazy hours doing it. The experience has been positive and you don’t get that nasty feeling of being knocked back or rejected by funding bodies. We are lucky to have a really encouraging community and group of friends, but sometimes people don’t know how to help you, Crowdfunding gives them an easy opportunity to support you with little to no effort. The response has been good for us because the whole process is easy, people can share it around on facebook or other social networking sites without really going out of their way. It’s encouraging and well, a little bit fun. Your campaign is doing well so far - any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a project? If you are interested in crowdfunding, sit down and really think about your plan of action. Get all your facts down and think hard about why people are going to support you. You can’t simply rely on the kindness of strangers. Also, consider crowdfunding as just one part of your fundraising endeavors, you just never know who will find worth in your project. I happened to find one of those people at a friend’s birthday diner party because I was late and sat at the empty table. Chance meetings are a one in a million but if you try everything you can eventually you’ll succeed… Maybe. Thanks for these great insights Joel - we are excited to see this finished project. Mahalo, Brian Meece
The first annual Astoria Long Island City Film Festival took place October 22-24 at The Secret Theatre. Films from all over the globe were screened and on Sunday Oct 24th there was a special showcase devoted to music videos. Woo-Hoo! A dozen videos were personally selected and presented by Long Island City music organizer and musical kingpin Gustavo Rodriguez. Among the musicians and filmmakers present at the event were Justin Finley, Natasha Alexandra (aka NLX), Laura Butler, Peter Brauer, Richard Mazda and Brian Meece. The videos on display were a stunning selection, but only one could take home the festival prize for Best Music Video and that went to NLX’s “Young Love” which was also directed (her debut!) by the artist. Congrats to Natasha for the award and to all of the folks in attendance. We look forward to next year’s festival!
RocketHub co-founder Jed Cohen first met singer/songwriter Bobby Belfry through some connections at Ergo Theater company back in 1999. They ended up to working together in a production of “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown!” (yes, Jed played Charlie Brown) and have stayed friends through the years. Bobby has a new project running on RocketHub called “One Lucky Day” and had a chance to discuss his creative process and crowdfunding campaign in this very enlightening interview. What was the inspiration behind the songs for “One Lucky Day”? My inspiration for “One Lucky Day” is the through-line of hope and transcendence in each song. Whatever the obstacles in the lyrics are and what my own interpretation of a song is, i.e, my status in relationship to the given situation or the (unseen) person I’m having the musical conversation with, there is always that moment of clarity, redemption and growth. I’ve had the great opportunity to be able to grow up with these songs by performing them for many years and (then to) record them now that I am a lot more evolved and well, adult. ”Stardust”, for example is a very different song for me now than it was in 1994, when I began singing it. As you evolve, the song evolves - that’s a sign of a well-written tune. How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of music - how are your fans responding? It has been a phenomenal experience to be a crowdfunding pioneer. It’s wonderful to know that there people who care about me and believe in me as a musician. It has always been extremely easy for me to detach and get stuck in my own head, especially when I’m in the midst of a creative project such as “One Lucky Day”. Making this leap to RocketHub has been more than a catalyst to finish my record, it has helped me to open up and be a more accessible performer, because I actually have proof that I matter to people; The stage isn’t so lonely anymore. I’m glad to hear that the experience has pushed you in a healthy way - any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a project? Know that whatever your creative project is, it will impact people. Be sure to uplift, inspire and entertain. It’s rough out there. It’s our job as artists to give our listeners, readers and viewers a breather from the chaos and daily struggle that is our world in this moment. What we give comes back to us and RockHub is validation of that. Furthermore, the folks who give us financial support deserve to know that they are more than fans: they are collaborators. Thank you Bobby for these wonderful insights and for being a part of our community. We appreciate your talents and energy! Brian Meece
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 will empower for little to no cost. Because of this, we have launched a (near) weekly column: Turbo Thursdays. The goal is to highlight other platforms that share our revolutionary empowerment ethos. If you or your company would like to be highlighted - please shoot us an email. Legal matters are nearly always difficult to deal with. Lawyers are nearly always expensive. That is where LawHelp.Org comes in. “LawHelp.org provides referrals to local legal aid and public interest law offices, basic information about legal rights, self-help information, court information, links to social service agencies, and more in your state. This site has been built by Pro Bono Net, a nonprofit organization headquartered in New York, and by partnering legal aid organizations. LawHelp.org is funded largely by the Legal Services Corporation and the Open Society Institute.” Although LawHelp.org won’t solve all your legal matters, it’s a good start for finding local, inexpensive or free legal resources. -Vlad
RocketHub was proud to team up with the City of New York this weekend to help local artists learn about money matters. We worked with the Department of Cultural Affairs and Department of Consumer Affairs Office of Financial Empowerment for a day of free one-on-one financial counseling and workshops designed to help working artists, arts administrators, and independent workers reduce debt and manage credit. The event also included opening remarks by Councilman and Chairman of the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries & International Intergroup Relations Jimmy Van Bramer; Commissioner Kate D. Levin; and Commissioner Jonathan Mintz - all of whom showed great interest in educating the art community on financial matters. The Wall Street Journal mentioned RocketHub in an article on the event here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304915104575572360112686080.htm…
CMJ 2010 was a blast of an event this year. RocketHub participated in a panel called “From Crowdsurfing to Crowdfunding” with Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Pledgemusic - where we discussed the future of media funding and how crowdfunding is playing a major part in the re-emergence of the new music business. Each of the companies has their own unique twist on the model and the overarching theme is that crowdfunding is working well for artists that take a proactive approach to their careers. That evening RocketHub, Music Dish, and Women in Music delivered an innovative Showcase at Gonzalez Y Gonzalez that was a hit as well - with well over 300 in attendance. Excellent insights and wonderful tunes came from Maya Solovey, Niall Connolly, and Tomas Doncker who answered questions on being successful entrepreneurs and performed sets that delighted fans, industry, and press folks in attendance. Niall even got a prime-time interview with Norwegian National Television. RocketHub artist Alfonso Velez had a standing-room only showcase at Rockwood Music Hall - the New York Times posted a shot of his performance here: http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2010/10/22/arts/music/20101023_UG_CMJ-5.html Much thanks to the good folks at CMJ, Music Dish, Women in Music, our artists and friends for making these successful events. We appreciate the ride - much more to come. Mahalo, Brian Meece
Jackson Heights based artist Chris Rungoo is inspired by many many different cultures, lifestyles, music, and traditions - from folklore, to Rock, to Hip Hop, and everything in between. I had a chance to ask a few questions about his latest music project he has running on RocketHub. What was the inspiration behind the songs for “Vamos Hacerlo”? The inspiration for the songs for the project come from my artistic need to express myself through music. It’s really a reflection of my influences from Ecuador, but raised with different cultures and listening to different music. Influences range from Lenny Kravitz, to Ecuadorian Folk music, to Manu Chao and other indie artists. The song “Open the Door” which is the main project is strongly inspired by my girl. How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of music - how are your fans responding? Friends and fans are responding very well and very quickly. It’s been a good first few days, although I am anxious to see if our goal will be met. The experience has been a good one. You realize how fortunate you are when you see friends, and fans having faith in your ability, or talent. It definitely motivates you as a musician to create something you can be proud of. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a project? It’s a lot of work, never lose faith or patience. Always remember your motivation, and don’t let anything get in the way! If you’re authentic your fans, friends, and family will always support so don’t hesitate. Thanks for flying with Team RocketHub Chris!
Josh Deutsch and Nico Soffiato are good friends and musical collaborators. I’ve had the chance to see them play live a few times here in NYC and really enjoy their music and vibe. The duo struck up a friendship after meeting in Boston and have been working together ever since. Josh and Nico’s recent project on RocketHub is doing well so far and recently I had a chance to connect and talk about their crowdfunding campaign. What was the inspiration for your new musical material? Can you tell us a little bit about the collaborative process? We’ve been friends for five years, and recorded a few originals back in 2006, while we were both living in Boston. After living on opposite coasts for a few years, we were excited to start playing again when we both ended up in New York a year ago. We started getting together a few times a month to play and try out some new ideas, and talk about what our musical goals for this duo were. The two of us share many common influences and our musical vision tends to line up very easily, although we also often introduce each other to new ideas and push each other in new directions as well. We wanted to create a set of music that showcases both the guitar and trumpet in a variety of textures. We also wanted to explore textures and musical forms outside of a traditional jazz format, while still incorporating plenty of room for improvisation. Being able to workshop these pieces and have them be constantly evolving, living pieces has been really fun, and made for some great results due to collaboration. Some of our pieces are actually written collaboratively, either begun by one of us and finished by the other, or written layer by layer, with the final version a composite of ideas. How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of jazz music? The jazz recording industry has changed a lot in recent years. As record companies consolidate or fold, especially in the jazz genre, many labels aren’t signing new artists, and even the ones that are often leave all the recording costs up to the musicians. We have this project that we feel strongly about and want to share with our fans, and waiting to be “discovered” isn’t really practical, so the idea of “crowdfunding” appealed to us, since we do have many fans and friends around the country and world who are happy to support us given an easy way to do so. The ability to involve our prospective audience in the process of making this CD is exciting, and we’ve already been able to share some special live videos and recordings with our fuelers. We are really looking forward to be able to send out the finished CD and our other gifts to our awesome supporters! Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a project? Personal emails have seemed to be most effective in connecting with our supporters. Facebook is a great way to keep people up to date on the process, and we’ve been playing a few shows through our campaign to keep momentum going (and just because we like playing!). We’ll be able to offer better advice once we’ve hopefully hit our goal in a few weeks! Thanks for the insights - I am confident you will hit your goal. Mahalo for putting your energy and talents into the RocketHub community. Brian Meece
We will descend upon CMJ 2010 next week to spread the crowdfunding revolution and empower musicians with the knowledge needed to master this new fundraising method. RocketHub will take part in two official CMJ events, aimed at educating and empowering musicians with the tools and real-life lessons necessary for successful crowdfunding: MUSICIANS AS ENTREPRENEURS Each artist will open with a short Q&A on their specific entrepreneurial project, followed by a performance with their band. Our own, Brian Meece will chat with Niall Connolly about his successful use of RocketHub to generate funds and awareness for his musical project. Presented by Digital Music NY, Women in Music, RocketHub & MusicDish LOCATION: Gonzalez y Gonzalez (GYG) 625 Broadway (bet. Bleecker & Houston), NYC DATE: Wednesday, October 20 TIME: 6-10pm 6-7pm - Digital Music NY networking hour, sponsored by DonQ Rum supplying free rum drink - RSVP required 7-7:45 - Maya Solovey Q&A and performance 8-8:45 - Niall Connolly Q&A and performance 9-9:45 - Tomas Doncker Q&A and performance RSVP REQUIRED (includes free DonQ Rum drink) http://dmnyoct20.eventbrite.com FROM CROWD SURFING TO CROWD FUNDING Raising money from your fans can be both rewarding and profitable. Brian will share the panel with the talented Alfonso Velez, a successful RocketHub musician who raised over $7,500 to release his upcoming record, and with other crowdfunding visionaries. Presented by CMJ LOCATION: NYU Kimmel Center 60 Washington Square (bet. Thompson & LaGuardia) Room 802 DATE: Wednesday, October 20 TIME: 2-3:15pm http://cmj.thesocialcollective.com/events/event/3216 The RocketHub team will also come out to support the performances of successful RocketHub musicians Alfonso Velez, Niall Connolly, and many more wonderful artists. The whole RocketHub crew is excited to hear music at its best, to show our gratitude to the artists that have used RocketHub, to educate and inspire new artists, and to help spread the crowdfunding revolution. -Vlad
Casey Black is a singer/songwriter currently living in Brooklyn. Since he posted his project “Shape Me As It Goes” a few weeks ago, I’ve had a chance to get to know Casey’s work - and have become a fan of both Casey’s music and his humor. Recently we had a chance to catch up to discuss the success of his latest project. He gave some cool insights on his creative process and RocketHub campaign. What was your inspiration for your material in It Shapes Me As It Goes? Can you tell us a little bit about how you write? The inspiration for this record came in a variety of ways, and over at least five years of time. I went from being 26 to 31 between records, so time and aging inspired a few of these songs, as did the constant battle between pessimism and optimism that occurs when you start seeing long pieces of lifetime pass by. I found myself getting into characters a lot more on this record, some that I created, and some that I “borrowed.” For instance, The Sarge is about a soldier who can’t form short term memories due to an IED explosion that injured his brain in Iraq. I saw his story late one night on PBS. And the last song on the record, one called Hard Alee!, is totally lifted from a great Joseph Conrad story called The Secret Sharer. There are at least two songs where I’ve sort of crawled into the head of a significant other and lectured myself through lyrics. Admittedly I do write a lot of autobiographical songs, but I’ve found that I can’t write them without thinking of myself as a character. Usually this happens unconsciously, and when I finish the song I think to myself, ‘That sounds like someone I know,’ until I remember I’d started writing it about myself. My process has changed very little since I started writing about 15 years ago. It always starts with a chord progression that offers up a nice, natural line of melody. When I’ve got that I start singing nonsense words over and over until some syllable or word sticks. After awhile (maybe minutes, maybe months) a couple lines form and I start knowing what the song is about. That’s when the whole character switch happens I think, because once I know where a song is going I get excited, but I also get really possessive. I’d rather not know where a song is going when I’m writing it: it’s more fun that way. In the end a song is written over, usually, a period of weeks or months, and I haven’t written a single line down. This record was different though. I was getting a little down on myself for my slow process about a few years ago, so I started writing down the song fragments I had in process, taking that notebook to a cafe, and trying to finish one after the other. This is satisfying, but usually results in a lyric that is too dense, or lopsided in its meter. So there’s always a little whittling to do when I actually ‘write’ a song away from my guitar. Thanks for sharing this insight. I can relate on quite a few levels there. How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of music? A favorite (and horrible) road-trip joke of mine is to muse aloud about how the pioneers must have been so relieved to find that the USA has a great interstate system. I had two great friends crowdfund their records right before me. Niall Connolly did his here on Rockethub, and E.W. Harris, who is producing my record, funded his with Kickstarter. They both reached their goals and encouraged me to do it, but I was skeptical. I must have hung around them for a couple months saying annoying things like, “Are you SURE this works? What if this experience only shows how unknown I am? That would break me in two!” But then I embraced the process, especially after meeting with the founders (Brian and Vlad), who met me in midtown early one morning(!) and spent hours with me helping me envision the campaign. And indeed, it did take hours and hours after that (and a lot of very patient editing by my girlfriend) to write a proposal that was direct and complete. But I remember that I’d $100 of fuel by the time I woke up the morning after I launched and was so thrilling, humbling, and might I even say euphoric? And that’s the felling that carried me through the next two weeks, which is the very short time it took to reach my goal. What could be more humbling and exciting than asking for support and receiving it in truckloads? (gas-tank-loads?)… Only the feeling of getting my cd’s back from the presses with all my supporters names in the jacket, I suppose. Well, we are glad you took the plunge! Props to Niall and E.W. for paving the way as well. Any advice for creatives looking to crowdfund a project? I only know what I did, and that seems to have worked. I thought of everyone I have ever known who would not think it totally odd to receive such a request from me. I asked my family for names, scoured Facebook and MySpace for people I’d lost contact with, and I did a lot of thinking about who has liked or supported my music in the past. Then I constructed one enormous email and sent it out, putting in the body the message that was on my Rockethub page below the video. I never sent this request out on any social networking sites. Instead, I used facebook to thank publicy the people who had given, and placed a convenient little link to the Rockethub page along with it. This is literally all I did, save for sending personal, more lengthy thank-you’s to each fueler. Yet, I know this wouldn’t have worked if I hadn’t spent a lot of time working on my video and my proposal. I got the most obvious, but most oft-forgotten piece of advice from you guys (Brian and Vlad) in the beginning, which was to ‘be myself.’ I have a big split in my personality: I wrote super-serious songs, but make super-dumb jokes. Constantly. So I took numerous takes of my video until it seemed myself, until those aspects seemed balanced, and I edited my message until it felt like something only I would say. So, I would give the same advice. Be yourself to the best of your ability. Thanks Casey for giving us the scoop on your creative process and RocketHub campaign. It has been awesome to have you on the site and I look forward to seeing you perform live in the near future. Brian Meece