Crowdfunding in the Mid-West with Singer/Songwriter Jesse Lee

Singer-songwriter Jesse Lee and I crossed paths in Lawrence, Kansas - and I’ve enjoyed getting to know Jesse and his music over the last few months. We had a chance to discuss his latest album project called "Transient" that he is crowdfunding on RocketHub. In this interview Jesse gives some honest answers on the creative process and his experiences as a crowdfunding pioneer. What was the inspiration behind the music project, Transient,  you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is is important to you? The word transient means not lasting, enduring, or permanent; transitory, lasting only a short time; existing briefly; temporary: or a person or thing that is transient, a temporary guest. That concept really encompasses my life over the last 10 years, but also life in general, depending upon your beliefs, our life is transitory, we are only here for so long, so we must make the most of it. The word transient, how it is referred to in my song “Transient” is someone who no matter where they live, they don’t have a home, in the sense, they feel homeless, yet are living somewhat comfortably in homes. This character is restless, always seeking some inner truth, sees the outer world as a maze of discovery, some things discovered are beautiful, some things internal are challenging, henceforth comes songs and music to make sense of that world. I moved a lot as a kid, so I developed this mentality of detachment, I learned to be ready to leave on whim, so there’s no real place I call home.   When I lived in Summit County, Colorado I frequented a bar in Frisco. One night, I was having a drink with another ski-bum and we were talking about the seasonality of life in the county, people always coming and going and he said to me, “Man, every body’s a transient” and at that moment I wrote the song on a back of napkin and it has been kind of my anthem ever since.  Since then, I’ve gotten married, bought a home and have a solid job that I’ve been at for two years. Things have settled, yet I’m still a Transient at heart. So, this project is the last chapter of my life as a Transient. There feels like a real sense of urgency to this project, it feels important to document this music in a collection, so I can start on the next chapter of life and songs. I’m currently in a community of musicians and believers in the musical dream, which has inspired me to take the leap, put my songs out there into the universe in a way that really highlights the songs and the experiences that have led me to this point in my life. This is a personal narrative of music to reach out to all the wanderers in the world. Great insights - How has your experience been as a crowd funding pioneer in the world of music - how are your fans and community responding? Living in the Midwest, I definitely feel a bit like a pioneer in crowd-funding. I think it has been a bit of a challenging idea for some of my friends and family to get their head’s wrapped around. But, when people visit the site, see my project posted, read my earnest words, I think they get it. There are still those who see it as charity, but they fail to see the the transaction as a trade. I love the fact that people who give, get cool stuff in return that is completely unique to this project. Overall, I have found that is has sparked a new interest in my music. I feel people always knew I loved to play music, but making the jump to try and fund an album has caused some folks to say, “Hey, he is serious about this”. So many friends, fans and family have gotten behind me and my project whole-heartedly and that is so gratifying. It has been amazing to reach out to old friends and hear their kind words and their gracious contributions to fuel the project. I feel a strong sense of responsibility to make the best record that I can, for the people who have helped me make this dream a reality. Crowdfunding is still becoming a “new ritual” for a lot of folks.  Any advice for Creatives looking to crowd-fund a project? I think it is important to keep good records of the folks who come out and see your shows, make sure to keep an email list and keep people in the loop. Facebook and Myspace have made it easier to keep in contact with your fan-base, but after playing shows is a great time to make new contacts and earn new Fuelers. Because I’ve moved so many times, it has been a bit of challenge to start over each time I land in a new town. But, thru technology you can reconnect with those people who would be excited to support your creative endeavor.  Be kind and loving to those who support you, keep them in the loop. Document your shows, record your music, play with lots of different people, keep being your own advocate. Have a strong presence on the web. Go support lots of other artists.  Each night I have time, I email friends, family, fans and ask them to participate in the project. When I’m out, I spark up conversations about the project. I remind people to visit my site. At work, I posted a reminder to visit Rockethub.com to check out the site.  Just keep pushing forward as hard as you can to make your dream possible.  Thanks for these insights - I look forward to hearing this album and jamming next time we meet. Brian

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  • November 22, 2010

Happy Santa Crowdfunding Campaign by Martin Blasick

The holiday spirit has overwhelmed singer/songwriter Martin Blasick, the writer of Lindsey Lohan’s “Don’t Move On”, and inspired him to create a holiday album for the 2010 season. Since his first music cue in Earth Girls Are Easy, Martin has provided scores, songs, cues, arrangements and productions for a stylistically diverse array of shows such as Oceans 12 & 13, Bedazzled, Ugly Betty, and Lost.  We recently had a chance to chat with this talented and charismatic artist about his current RocketHub project “Happy Santa”. What was the inspiration behind the music project, “Happy Santa”,  you are currently running on RocketHub? Why is is important to you? It started on Sept 27, the hottest day in Los Angeles history when it hit 113 degrees. Santa must have been thinking of me because when my wife  went out to an event, whoosh!, it was like a rush of arctic air in my brain. I just starting singing and strumming. I opened up one track in ProTools and hit record every time a new verse flowed. If i had written anything down it would have been too slow to catch the wave.  Four songs appeared so easily the only thing that stopped me was when Natasha got home just as I improvised the out chorus of  Operation North Pole. Cdbaby featured a holiday song of mine a couple of years on their podcast so it had been in the back of my mind. But this was the moment that got me in the zone.  It’s funny in a way because sometimes people ask how long it takes to write a song. Really it takes your whole life to get to that moment. I went to the same place with these holiday songs as I do for my pop songs.  I used to think playing hot guitar licks was important. As time goes by the classic values come into greater relief. The holidays are about community and togetherness. That’s positive energy. I;ve always loved Burl Ives and Rudolf the Rednosed Reindeer. For a few days after the first writing session I kept spilling out new tunes and  realized I wanted to make a whole album. It’s like I didn’t choose to do this but rather it chose me.  I knew if I acted quickly I could get the digital version on iTunes for a nominal fee. I’d heard you (Brian Meece) on a recent cdbaby podcast and realized with crowdfunding and some elbow grease there was an opportunity to fund the creation of physical CD’s too. CD’s are still very much alive and well no matter what some people say. Having a properly pressed CD is a valuable asset.  Nice - seems like lots of folks have heard the CD Baby Podcast. How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of music - how are your fans and community responding? Everyone has been great. I’m probably a perfect example of someone without a fanbase. My mailing list has less than 10 people on it. Aren’t there a lot of home recorders out there who aren’t out in the clubs? I’d like to play out but there’s not enough time in my world for that type of promotion. The turning point against club gigs for me was when I clocked 8 hours between when I lifted my amp to tote it to the car and when I returned it to it’s resting place all in order to play a 40 minute originals gig. Eight hours is a standard work day and I didn’t feel the results were worth that much time.  I read some negative comments on musicthinktank about crowdfunding which I couldn’t understand at all. It’s been community building for me. It takes quite a few hours to write personal emails to friends. In the process I’ve reconnected with people in a very good way. Natasha occasionally appears as elf in the videos. The funding part is secondary other than the fact I’ll need to meet my goal to get the money.  Crowdfunding is still very much a “new ritual” - and it’s changing the music game for sure. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a project? Crowdfunding feels very close and personal, at least in my case. I notice that some of the folks who’ve contributed have never bought or been involved with any of my previous projects. It reaches a different cross section of people who might not make it out to clubs. I’m sure clubbers can be effective this way, too. But I’ve been very pleased that people who I hadn’t expected to help out have.  Be prepared for a lot of work. I thought long and hard about my rewards. It used another side of the brain compared to the songwriting side. The hardest thing for me has been doing on camera appeals for money. It’s like public TV fundraising. There’s something insinuated into artists that it’s not right to stand up for one’s own work financially. I’ve learned a lot about myself doing daily countdown to Santa videos. Like almost everything else, you’ll get out of it what you put into it. For me it’s about 2 hours a day. It’s not easy money. That’s what makes it more about community, and of course holiday magic. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us about your creative process and RocketHub Campaign - we appreciate you joining our creative community.  Everyone at the RocketHub HQ is addicted to your music videos! Brian  

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  • November 20, 2010

Crowdfunding in Montreal Canada - Documentary Film “Infinity Loops” by Adam Reider

Adam Reider is an independent filmmaker from Montreal, Canada with a goal to make films that evoke thoughts beyond just the entertainment realm. We had a chance to check in to see what the story is on his documentary film project on RocketHub called “Infinity Loops”. What is the inspiration behind your documentary film project, “Infinity Loops”,  you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is is important to you? This is a film that I feel really close to. I’ve always been inspired by positive things coming from tragic events. I’m amazed at how much of a positive impact people can make after a tragedy and I wanted to capture that on film. I think it’s important to look at what people choose to do with their lives after such terrible event like the Dawson College Shooting in 2006. People who suffered greatly, emotionally and physically are great sources of inspiration as they push towards creating something so positive. The Ecological Peace Garden that’s being built at Dawson college is such a great idea and has brought a grieving and hurt community together in a profound way. It’s a story that I want to tell because I really believe that the Garden project will make a positive impact in so many lives in the community and being able to push that impact to a wider audience is something that, as a filmmaker, is something that I want to do. How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of film - how are your fans and community responding? Honestly it feels really good but also quite stressful. It feels great because the support I’m getting even just in terms of getting the word out to people is phenomenal. People are coming out of the wood work and spreading the message over Facebook, Twitter and e-mail. The film community is a tough community to get into as far as fundraising goes. It’s one of the most expensive art forms you can get into so naturally everyone in the community really wants to support other works but can’t always afford it. But I feel really supported by my friends and family as well as people I haven’t met yet and I can’t thank people enough for everything that people have contributed so far. That being said, it is stressful because I know this is an all or nothing situation. Watching the countdown to the deadline is a little taxing on my heart. I can relate :-) Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a project? I would say that people should look at crowdfunding as a wonderful resource but also something like a full time job. You have to put aside your pride and actively get out there to spread the word and literally say “Can you contribute some money to my project?”. You need to be resourceful and go all out with your campaign. It’s important to have some kind of action plan on how you are going to reach out to people. Having a few other people to be there with you as a team to promote the project will help immensely. I say, if you want to meet your goal then go out there and get it. I also think I should add that if by chance you don’t make your goal in time, remember, you just made a ton of new fans, supporters and network connections. Good luck everyone! Well good luck to you Adam - we wish you all the best in your creative endeavors.  Thank you for joining our creative community. Brian

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  • November 19, 2010

Turbo Thursdays with Wikkit - A New Spin on Ticketing

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. This week we get “the scoop” from Adam Hunt, the founder and president of Wikkit, who is determined to figure out a way to send tickets over the internet so that anyone can afford to go to a show. Here are his thoughts and insights on his journey with Wikkit thus far. What was the inspiration behind your start-up Wikkit?  Why this endeavor is important to you? The inspiration with Wikkit is true ticketing democracy. I’ve always been really into live music and when I was growing up and working at McDonald’s it was tough scraping up money to go to a show.  And what always really upset me was how much Ticketmaster was charging in fees—it just seemed crazy having to pay $5 or $10 in fees on a ticket with a face value of $15 or $20.  And the worst part is that they’re still doing it today and getting away with it because artists and venues haven’t had other good options. I also have a lot of friends in bands and I wanted to figure out a way for artists to be more involved in the whole process.  One way we’re doing that is letting artists actually create their own events and help introduce venues to this affordable and simple way of doing ticket sales without a lot of expensive hardware or systems to set up.  Anyone with a cell phone can get their wikkit via text message (or email) and all the venue needs to scan wikkits is an iPhone or Droid.  A big part of the whole Wikkit story is that getting tickets via text message is just really cool and convenient for fans. The whole endeavor is important to me because I’d wanted to do it for years, but it didn’t take the plunge and launch the whole thing until after my little sister Hannah lost her long battle with brain cancer this summer.  As cliche as it may sound, I had one of those “life is too short moments” and she really inspired me to do what you love and follow your dreams. How is Wikkit doing thus far?  What success have you had? Tell me about the challenges? We’ve had a great response from everyone that’s gotten wikkit so far :-)  People that don’t have smartphones think it’s really cool that they can still get a wireless ticket on their plain old flip phones.  We’ve also been able to partner with a variety of different merchants and venues from a small bar out in San Francisco (The Gate) to the McFadden’s location in Las Vegas.  We’ve even been doing promos with wikkits for an organic yogurt shop here in NYC (called Yorganic).  I’m most excited about the free concert we threw this week in Brooklyn (at Cameo inside the Loving Cup) featuring Lincoln Schofield’s Old Souls, The Dream Station and Fugitive Souls. Any advice for “on the fence” entrepreneurs looking to start their own company? My first thought was be sure to catch up on your sleep before you get started! Seriously though I think that the best thing you can do is surround yourself with great people—especially people who have other strengths than you and bring something different to the table.  If you’re like me and don’t know much about computers then you better make friends with someone who can turn your sketch on the back of a cocktail napkin into reality.  If you have three co-founders with a tech background then you definitely need someone with a marketing and business background on the team.  You also need to not get frustrated if things don’t happen overnight—it’s a long process and you have to enjoy the ride. Last but not least, people shouldn’t be afraid to take that first step, whatever it is.  I’ve met so many great people with cool ideas who don’t even give it a shot.  And I think that sites like Rockethub make it even easier because you can really invest others in your mission and have a lot of fun along the way—just fueled our first project!!! Thanks these awesome insights (and for Fueling a project!) We look forward to watching your site grow and the prospect of working together in the near future. Brian and The RocketHub Team

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  • November 18, 2010

Broadway and Crowdfunding - Behind the Scenes with Lisa Howard

RocketHub Creative Lisa Howard was last seen on Broadway as Missy Hart in the new musical 9 to 5.  She may be most known for her starring role as Rona Lisa Peretti in William Finn’s Tony Award-winning musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, for which she received a Drama Desk Award (Best Ensemble). Recently we had the chance to discuss her latest musical project "Songs of Innocence" and her crowdfunding campaign. What was the inspiration behind the music project, “Songs of Innocence & Experience”, you are currently running on RocketHub?  Why is is important to you? This project is my debut solo album and it features the music of the Tony Award winning composer William Finn. I’ve chosen to do a tribute album of all his music because it represents my start as a part of the Broadway community, having starred as Rona Lisa Peretti in Finn’s The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. I played Trina in a college production of Falsettos and fell in love with his music. So it was a great honor to have my Broadway debut be in a show he wrote. It feels like I’ve come full circle.  Great story - so how has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of music - how are your fans and community responding?  It’s nerve racking! I feel like I’m hounding people, but I’ve gotten a very positive response so far. I’m nowhere near my goal yet, but i think people are excited about the project. I’ve gotten a lot of “Likes” on Facebook.  Well your messages are working - any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a project? Have a very concrete plan for whatever type of project you are doing. People want to know they are contributing to something legit. Make up a business plan and have it ready to show people if they ask, give details and don’t be afraid of posting on your Facebook ALL THE TIME! It’s the only way that people will know and keep being reminded about your project! People have great intentions, but they don’t always get around to contributing right away. You just have to keep reminding them:-) Thank you for these insights - we appreciate having your project with us and having you as part of our creative community. We look forward to seeing your future performances. Brian

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  • November 17, 2010

Jazz + Crowdfunding + French Horn + Mark Taylor = Very Cool RocketHub Project

Jazz musician/composer Mark Taylor has tons of talent and is a super nice guy to boot. Here’s what Time Out New York has to say about Mark and his unique instrument - "The French horn is a notoriously finicky beast to master in a fast-paced improv setting which is probably why not many players have made their mark with the instrument. Add Mark Taylor’s name to the list of the chosen few."  We had the chance to chat with Mark about his upcoming recording "At What Age" and his RocketHub campaign. What was the inspiration behind the music project, “At What Age”,  you are currently running on RocketHub - and why is is important to you? It’s been 6 years since my last release “Circle Squared” (also a self-released project) and I felt it was time to document the new music I’d been writing since then. Also, I’ve recently gotten very interested in the question of how “casting” your band impacts the music you make. I had a quartet with what I felt was a unique personality and I wanted to see where I could go with it. As a composer, I’m convinced that the relationship between the composer, the performers and the audience is interdependent. You need all three parts to complete the circuit (of course the definition of any, or all, of those parts is open to discussion). As a performer I’ve been committed to doing all I can to promote the French Horn as a lead or featured instrument in jazz and improvised music. Recording and releasing CDs is one way to help people see this instrument in a whole new light! Very cool - how has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of music - how are your fans and community responding? I’ve had a wonderful response from my peers and colleagues (although sometimes it’s difficult to convert goodwill and support into dollars and cents!). Other musicians I know are curious to see if this works for me or not, and I’ve learned the importance of setting an appropriate goal amount. I can say that my friends, family and fans really are stepping up in support of this project. Community can be a powerful thing - any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a project? Decide what you really want to accomplish with your campaign, work hard ahead of time to build up your fanbase/network and, most importantly, know how big a target goal your fanbase can support at this time. Oh, and be prepared to spend time spreading the word and then reminding everyone again and again!  I’m a big proponent of self-determination for creative people and I think crowdfunding is a very powerful tool in our arsenal. Thank you for this inside scoop - we appreciate having your talents here on RocketHub. Photos courtesy of http://www.marktaylormusic.net Brian

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  • November 16, 2010

Turbo Thursdays: The Recording Academy®

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. Last week we had the pleasure to present an educational crowdfunding panel in partnership with The Recording Academy® - the organization that is famous for the GRAMMY® Awards. The RocketHub team was honored to participate in The Recording Academy’s Music Box event hosted by the D.C. Chapter at George Washington University. Before, during, and after the event, I was able to learn a lot about this awesome organization. Not only is The Recording Academy good at organizing world-renown music-award extravaganzas, but they also offer a ton of resources for musicians and music professionals at all career levels - even students. They’ve been doing it for over fifty years: “Established in 1957, The Recording Academy is an organization of musicians, producers, engineers and recording professionals that is dedicated to improving the cultural condition and quality of life for music and its makers.” So if you’re interesting in joining the GRAMMY365 community and gaining cool benefits - including travel discounts, professional development, gear offers, or potentially choosing the next GRAMMY winners - learn how to join. -Vlad

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  • November 11, 2010

"The Crowdfunding Revolution" - A New Book by Kevin Lawton and Dan Marom

This past summer I had the pleasure of chatting with two brilliant guys, Kevin Lawton (contributing writer to VentureBeat) and Dan Marom (PhD candidate in Finance at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem).  They asked if they could interview me for their upcoming book called “The Crowdfunding Revolution”.  We were honored to contribute quotes, concepts, and are own unique takes on how crowdfunding is changing the world.  Now this book is being released to the world - and we recommend it highly to anyone who is fascinated by this new methodology for funding projects and endeavors. Here is the Editorial Review from Amazon- "Deep and intertwined in our humanity, is a need to support and feel involvement in the kinds of projects and companies which we care about. Until the recent crowdfunding phenomena emerged, our more centralized and intermediated capital formation and funding mechanisms scarcely recognized the social power of crowds which form affinities around any kind of mission. Crowdfunding is a natural systemic response to fill this gap, and an expression of our collective human will. It is perhaps, one of the most powerful developments in our modern-day socio-economics, and promises both to transform the capital formation landscape and to offer an avenue for a creative and intellectual re-birth. Whether funding sports-car racers, startup companies, indie movies, fashion, scientific research, or community projects — crowdfunding is already well under way, changing not only the way that we fund efforts, but the way we interact and support them. It is in the most simplistic terms, social networking meets venture financing. And a number of people in venture financing are now getting involved it. This is a deep and broad look at the history of finance that got us here, the present day zeitgeist of crowdfunding and its associated social networking & group dynamics, and a visionary look into the future and greater empowerment of crowdfunding. Join us on this intellectual discovery. Be part of the Crowdfunding Revolution!” Much thanks to Dan and Kevin for putting these insights and discoveries together in a wonderful read - RocketHub is excited to help pioneer this new frontier. Brian Meece

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  • November 10, 2010

Behind the Scenes with Chicago-based Musical Collective - blink.

blink. is a musical collective steeped in jazz, rock, and free improvisation featuring bassist Jeff Greene, drummer Quin Kirchner, guitarist Dave Miller, and saxophonist (and early RocketHub success) Greg Ward.  blink.’s members, all active Chicago-based musicians, came together in the fall of 2006 with the purpose of playing some of Jeff’s new compositions and experimenting with improvisational ideas. We recently had a chance to talk with Jeff about the blink. RocketHub project. What was the inspiration behind the blink. tour project?  Why is is important to you? I learned about RocketHub from Greg Ward, who plays alto sax in blink., because he ran a very successful campaign to get funding for his band’s record.  I was blown away by the support he received from friends, family, and music lovers whom he’s never met.  So I decided to try it for myself for blink.’s current touring as we go to the Netherlands for the first time.  Performing my own music with great friends and musicians in Europe has been a dream of mine for a long time and this tour is just the beginning of establishing a network of fans and other musicians that we intend to build on for many years. Very cool!  Greg was an early RocketHub success - and we are happy to see him and his friends on the site. How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of music - how are your fans responding? So far my experience has been everything I hoped it would be.  Our fans have responded very positively and we jumped to nearly 20% of our goal in the first week.  That was encouraging and I’m confident we’ll be able to reach our goal. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a project? My advice to others who are interested in crowdfunding is to believe in your project.  People want to be a part of something that matters, and if you don’t let others know about your passions then no one else will! Thanks Jeff for these insights and for joining the RocketHub community.  We are excited to be a part of the success of blink. Mahalo,  Brian Meece

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  • November 9, 2010

Crowdfunding a Cabana in Panama? Welcome to a New Spin on Eco-Tourism

Lauren Ziemski and her boyfriend Ryan recently had the opportunity to visit the islands off the coast of Panama known as Bocas Del Toro.  This is a logical destination spot for anybody who has love of clear blue water and a good surf break. After their visit, the couple decided to design a lifestyle that escapes the trappings of “life” or “work” as most folks know it - and their Panama Cabana Adventure Project was born. We had a chance to get some extra info from Lauren and get some insights on their decision to crowdfund this fascinating eco-tourism project. What was the inspiration behind your Panamanian Cabana project? The inspiration is basically quality of life.   My boyfriend and I decided that we didn’t want to be stuck in jobs we weren’t happy with just to make a paycheck. We want to be passionate about our jobs and fulfilled in our lives. We want to live our lives to the fullest while we are young, not just working working working until we are of retirement age. The trappings of a 9-5 here in the states can be a difficult hole to dig yourself out of so we are taking a risk. Hopefully this risk will also help contribute to fulfilling our guests lives as well.  It’s all about people having amazing experiences.  How has your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of eco-tourism?  - how is your audience responding? The immediate response was so overwhelmingly supportive.  We couldn’t believe how quickly people wanted to help be a part of the project and specifically the steps we are taking to make sure it’s eco-friendly. People have said how they wish they were ballsy enough to do what we are doing and how proud they are.  Basically everyone just says to go for it!  We feel very blessed to have so many amazing people in our lives.  Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a project? The best advice we can give is to really get the word out to everyone you know.  Friends of friends, family friends etc. We have been surprised by some of the people that have donated. You never know how your project will resonate with someone. Don’t be scared to break out those emails you haven’t used in ages. Those people could truly be inspired and in turn pass it on to others they know.  The snowball effect is amazing. 

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  • November 5, 2010