RocketHub Leads the Crowdfunding Revolution at CMJ 2010

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) 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 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

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  • October 13, 2010

Behind The Scenes Interview with Casey Black - Crowdfunding His New Record “Shape Me As It Goes”

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

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  • October 11, 2010
  • October 7, 2010

Behind the Scenes with Marjorie Salvaterra and “LA Bus Stop”

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Marjorie Salvatera about her photography project, LA Bus Stop, and her experience crowdfunding.  She offered a wonderful explanation of her inspiration, what she learned while shooting this piece, and also had some crowdfunding pearls of wisdom!   1. Marjorie, what was the inspiration behind your latest photography project, LA Bus Stop? My teacher, the amazing Julia Dean, called me last fall to say she was putting together a small master class and invited me to join. It would be comprised of two projects: a personal project, which is my Hallelujah series, and a group project, which was “Contrasting LA”. Each person would do a project based on what that meant to them.  Immediately, I pictured bodies.  I wanted to contrast the bodies of LA. I was gonna do one against another but then thought that wasn’t very nice so I decided to put everyone together. I envisioned a line up like at a bus stop and that is how my project began. As I began to work with people in this very vulnerable state, I realized how body image is at the core of everyone — of how we see ourselves and how others see us.  In so many ways, we are so much alike. We all have boobs, whether they’re big, small, floppy, pointing up or down or we have a penis, big, small, floppy, pointing up or down. Then, the more people I met, I even found one incredible person with both. And for her, that is who she is.  I learned through this project, while we are all very similar, with similar feelings, ideas, thoughts — worried about how we portray ourselves, how we will/are judged, each person brings an incredible beauty of uniqueness and strength with their own story.   2. How have you been reaching out to your friend and fans?  How has the response been? I’m not good at asking for money, so the idea that people get something in return for funding my project is very helpful. I’ve used facebook to reach out to the large group of people, but really most of my funding, so far, has come from emailing my closest friends and family. I am just starting to see the efforts reaching out to the next tier — friends who I’ve recently reconnected with via facebook and friends of my husbands and close friends. 3. What has it been like as a crowdfunding pioneer in photography/art world?  It’s strange to fundraise for an artistic project.  But my friends who are actors that have spent years raising money for shows and theatre companies assure me that this is no different. I’m betting on them!  lol. 4. What advice would you give to other Creatives looking to crowdfund their projects? Have good rewards.  Rocket Hub gave me good ideas for fundraising.  Offer things like “my time”. Portrait sessions.  Shooting lessons.  Camera classes.  Even signed prints at great bargains to my “fuelers”.  And then have great belief in your project and it’s value. Thank you Marjorie.  I’m sure that your inspiration will shine through, and I hope that others will share your insights, both about things we all have in common, and on how to successfully crowdfund an artistic project! To learn more and/or Fuel Marjorie’s project, follow this link:  

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  • October 7, 2010

Behind the Scenes Interview With The High-Flying (and persistent) Creative Brian Halloran

Fellow singer/songwriter Brian Halloran has taken a cool and gutsy plunge into the crowdfunding world with his latest recording project News From Queen Victoria.  His story is a great example of someone with a lot of heart and perseverance sticking with their creative vision - through thick and thin.  Brian launched an initial project that fell slightly short - and instead of hanging it up, he rolled up his sleeves and reposted another, more manageable project - taking what he learned the first time around and applied it to “round 2”. This is persistence at its finest. Recently I had a chance to catch up with Brian to talk about his project and his experience in the crowdfunding world. What was the inspiration behind the songs for “News from The Queen Victoria”? "News From The Queen Victoria" was the result of a relationship that went very, very bad very quickly. I fell in love with a girl whom I didn’t really know that well. It started off all hot and heavy. We talked about marriage and kids and even moved in together after just 5 months. The whole thing was over before we reached the 6 month mark. So obviously, I had to write a whole bunch of songs about it. The first three songs I wrote were actually recorded as a demo ("Google The Girl", "Face" & "Deny, Deny, Deny", along with an older song, "Anxious Child"), and are chock full of regret and recrimination and longing. When I wrote "Deny, Deny, Deny", I realized it was better suited for a female singer. As it turned out, one of my absolute favorite female singers, Nicole McKenna, was (is) married to my producer Saul Zonana. She literally took about fifteen minutes to record the vocals. While she was cooking dinner. Sometime after, while I was still in the depths of my romantic convalescence, I received an email from The Queen Victoria, a beautiful, Victorian B&B in Cape May, NJ my ex and I had stayed at over Labor Day Weekend. The subject line for the email was, “News From The Queen Victoria”. This inspired the title track and also led me to the idea of doing the entire album as a chronicle of the relationship and subsequent aftermath. The title track, a duet with Kim Ince, serves as the prologue (think the opening scene in “Moulin Rogue”) and from there I tried to piece the album together chronologically. I didn’t want the whole album to be sad, depressing songs. Since I was trying to tell the story of two people who were, at least for a little while, in love, I needed songs in the middle of the album that could express that. Since I already had two songs with the female’s perspective, I wanted a third and wrote “A Sunburned Song”, which is far and away the most upbeat track on the album. In yet another coop, I was able to get Jes Hudak into the studio to sing the bejesus out of it. I also resurrected an older love song, “Comet”. I had tried several times in the past to record it, but never with much success. I’d just never been able to do the song justice vocally.  Again, I called on one of my talented friends, Colin Smith. Colin has one of those voices, he could sing the instruction manual for a vacuum cleaner, in German, and make girls weak in the knees.  I weeded out a few of the more vitriolic and embittered numbers and finally settled on the twelve tracks that make up “News From The Queen Victoria”.  Great visuals in that story. Very cool. So tell us how about your experience been as a crowdfunding pioneer in the world of music - in terms of your initial project and the repost? It’s been a real eye-opener. Self-promotion has never been my strong suit, so I’ve really had to get out of my own way and learn to be much more assertive and outgoing in getting the word out. My first attempt, I was not only a bit naive about what to expect, but when I realized it was going to fall short, I got a bit defeatist and that didn’t help at all. When the first campaign ended, i regrouped quickly, set a more realistic goal and I’ve had a more positive attitude and outlook.  I love the gusto here! Being persistent with a good attitude is key lesson for anybody to learn. Any advice for Creatives looking to crowdfund a project? My advice would be to stay positive and stay on top of it. Be as social and upbeat and excited about your project as possible. You really want potential fuelers to know how important your project is to you and give the impression that nothing can stop you in reaching your goal. And be sure the people who do help you feel appreciated for their support. Write an email, or post on their facebook page or bake them some cookies or at least buy them a drink.  Brian - much thanks for your story and for being part of the RocketHub community.  Your talents and energy are appreciated here - and I look forward to seeing you at one of your performances around NYC. Brian Meece

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  • October 5, 2010

Tri State Indie Rocks

This past weekend myself and the RocketHub Team were at The Philly F/M Festival - where we had the chance to hear some killer talent and meet lots of neat and creative folks. One of our neighbors at the conference was Tri State Indie, an online music news resource headed up by Stephanie Seiple.   Steph comes from a musical family (her dad is still rocking in a band), and has been in the music biz world for a while cutting her teeth with the big record labels and media companies. Last year inspiration hit, and Steph and friends launched - initially just for fun.  The buzz started to build - and a community started forming.  Now, one year and twenty-five music festivals later, Tri State Indie is getting some traction in the DIY communities of PA, DE, NJ and beyond.  Expect to see more artists from the TriStateIndie circles popping onto the site over the next few weeks as well as potential RocketHub projects popping up over at   -Brian Meece

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  • October 1, 2010

Turbo Thursdays: crowdSPRING

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. Many small and creative businesses successfully utilize crowdfunding to support their entrepreneurial endeavors. Today we are highlighting crowdSPRING, a community for efficiently crowdsourcing creative work - something that is often needed by entrepreneurial ventures. crowdSPRING connects businesses with designers, writers, and other cool Creatives from around the world. “Now small businesses, one-man shops and individuals anywhere can tap into a global pool of creatives for logo design, web design, company name, product name, packaging design, and many other graphic design, industrial design and writing projects.” This site is a great creative resource. Its usefulness and handy approach inspired the RocketHub team. Check out crowdSPRING if you need a bit of design work for your company, band, or other endeavor. -Vlad

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  • September 30, 2010

Crowdfunding NONVIOLENCE - Behind the Scenes Interview with Joshua Lewis

Joshua Lewis is embarking on wonderful creative journey with his multi-platform endeavor called NONVIOLENCE. In getting to know Josh and his work, I have become more and more impressed by both his positive energy and his painstaking attention to detail when it comes to his artistic projects.  The NONVIOLENCE RocketHub campaign is chalked full of passion and talent - the video alone is quite captivating indeed. I recently had the pleasure to catch up with Josh and chat about the creative process and his latest project with NONVIOLENCE. What was the inspiration to your latest musical project with Non-Violence?  Why is it important to you? The inspiration for NONVIOLENCE was the culmination of all my creative and artistic experiences, throughout the entirety of my life thus far. Growing up in a very free-spirited, creative home as a child, always being encouraged to do something good for the benefit of those around oneself. Living in NYC for the past handful of years, has also greatly created an urgency to solidify my artistic output. For me, the importance lie simply in the universal uproar we seem to be experiencing right now. Whether it’s here in America, or in Zimbabwe, there’s obvious a crisis over what’s “coming next,” what’s just, what’s safe. The age of ethics is upon us. There’s never been a more important time to generate community, and a positive outlook on our future. I like the positive energy and vibe of your creative work a lot - and I know I’m not the only one.  How are you reaching out to your fans? How has the response been?  For me, reaching out to ‘fans’ has always been a very personable interaction. Throughout years and years of going to shows, interacting on the web, or random encounters with artists that I admire, It seems that 50% of the outreach that I’ve received (as a fan) is genuine and heartfelt, and 50% has been crass. I’d like to think that by (literally) staying up ‘til sunrise, chatting with supporters, and exchanging lengthly, in-depth letters are just two ways of generating an unprecedented interaction and love affair with each individual fan. So far the responses have been wonderful, and quite surreal. I’d say it’s all off to a great start, and people are aware that this movement is just as much about them as it is about me, my band, my sis, or my baby cousins. Thanks for the honest insights.  What has it been like as a crowdfunding pioneer in music world? It’s been great to feel like a pioneer in the crowdfunding realm of music. I believe that those behind Rockethub, and the general platform for all that is crowdfunding, are super intelligent, authentic, and just what the creative communities need more of. Though it’s apparent that a large majority of the fans, supporters, and networks are still trying to wrap their heads around how exactly the whole process functions. In any web oriented exchange of finances it’s obvious that theirs lots of skepticism, but with time, I’m sure that all will see it’s the most direct and promising way to support the art you believe in. Mahalo for the good words Josh. In terms of sharing info with the community, what advice would you give to Creatives looking to crowdfund their projects?  I’d encourage future crowdfunders to know exactly what they’re trying to say with their work. What is it about your project that really demands support in getting it out there? How are you attempting to differentiate yourself from the endless sea of aspiring creative-types? Why is it special, are you truly committed to bringing positive, genuine works of art into the world? Know yourself, let yourself be transparent, and allow your supporters the most direct and sincere outlook on what you’re all about. Josh, we greatly appreciate your talents and energy - and wish you all the best in your creative and artistic pursuits. Brian Meece

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  • September 29, 2010

Behind the Scenes Interview With The High-Flying Creative Kevin Breuner of Hello Morning and the CD Baby Podcast

I recently had the chance to chat with Kevin Breuner of the Portland-based rock band Hello Morning. In addition to his duties on guitar with the band - Kevin is a Grammy nominated artist, a podcaster for CD Baby, and an indie musician advocate. Kevin knows the music business inside and out and we had a great chat about crowdfunding in a recent CD Baby podcast. In this fun followup conversation I had the pleasure of asking him questions about Hello Morning’s latest recording project and what the response has been on their crowdfunding campaign thus far. What was the inspiration behind this latest recording project by Hello Morning?  This recording is our sophomore effort, so a lot of the musical inspiration has come just from us having a deeper understanding of how we fit together creatively.  It might be hard for a non-musician to understand, but when you’ve been growing musically together as a band, you begin to have a better understanding of each other’s abilities and start playing off of each others strengths. Everything starts to add up to something that is bigger than one individual.  It can be very inspiring and fuel a lot of creativity. Yes - I can totally relate there in terms of the band dynamic. That is a key distinction to make. So why is this record important to you and the band?  I think a sophomore release is always the point where you solidify yourself as a band or artist.  Sometimes the first album comes easy (or easier).  Going back to the creative well and writing new material that continues to take your art form to the next level is a challenge. In terms of communication, how are you reaching out to your fans?  How has the response been? We’re fairly active on Facebook and Twitter, but the fan outreach that seems to get the best result is our band emails to our fan email list. When we send out an email, it seems like we have their attention.  It also allows us to write a more personal note that doesn’t have to be summed up in 140 characters.   Facebook and Twitter are great - but when I get a personal email, the message does register much louder. What has it been like as a crowdfunding pioneer in music world? Crowdfunding has been a challenging experience (in a good way).  It makes you examine every little detail about how you communicate to your fans.  Crowdfunding is an idea that people in the music business have been talking about, but for most in the fan community, it’s completely unheard of.  You have to make sure you are communicating clearly with your fans and educating them on the process.  It also makes you really look at your “fan” list to determine the number of people on your list who are really the type of fans that are emotionally invested in your music.  The type of fan that will want to throw their support behind the project. I totally agree - the “depth” of the network is important. What advice would you give to Creatives looking to crowdfund their own projects? My advice is to not jump into a crowdfunding project without really thinking through the process from start to finish.  There are a lot of details that need to be filled in.  You can’t simply create a project, make one post on Facebook, and expect to see success.  You’ll need to create a dialogue with your fan base that lasts the entire campaign.  Also, the rewards menu is key.  Don’t just post your band merch as the rewards (we almost made that mistake).  Get creative.  Look at what other artists are doing and learn from their campaigns.  Kevin, much thanks to you and Hello Morning for this insight and advice.  Keep up all the good creative work that you do and thank you for joining the RocketHub community.  Your talents and energy are appreciated here. Mahalo! Brian Meece

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  • September 27, 2010

Crowdfunding Creative Growth - Behind the Scenes with Michele Riganese

This year I have had the pleasure to see several live performances of Michele Riganese - a very talented young singer-songwriter based in Queens, New York. Show highlights include The Queens of Queens Festival, The LIC Folk Festival, and a powerful opening set for Gordan Gano of The Violent Femmes - where she sung harmonies for Little Embers (one of my current favorite artists). Recently, Michele and I had a chance to chat about her RocketHub project.  1.  What was the inspiration to your latest musical project “Transitioning a Sound”?  Why is it important to you? In my earlier days, and in the privacy of my own home & Garageband, I had dabbled with REALLY different styles of music. Everything from rock, hard core rock, blues, musical, european and house music. My song collections, however, have turned out to be of the folksy sort, which I adore and think is the most obvious direction for my songs. But I’m ready to explore something a bit closer to an indie sound. A long-time lover of upright bass, cello and violins, along with uke’s, mandolins, harmonicas and xylaphones I’m looking to expand my “polk” wings and dig into something unique. Part of the excitement is not really knowing where I will be led, but having a soft pool to wade in with a terrific partner. It’s important to me because I aim to keep growing as an artist. And providing the world with some wonderful songs to help lift a mood or give someone the space to either be distracted or completely focused is a wonderful thing be a part of. Music that hits you in the core(but in a good way :) ) is what it’s all about for me.   2.  Very cool - that growth element is important. And how are you reaching out to your fans?  How has the response been? I reached out to my fans and everyone I knew to help me take this journey by creating a community with the rewards. I wanted to give a piece of myself in the rewards and gave serious thought to what I wanted to share. I explored other talents and passions, as suggested by some very wise men over at Rockethub, and came up with things I felt would let someone into my world; get to know me better. I had great online forums like facebook and myspace, but also informed people at shows and through word of mouth.   The response was dumbfounding. I couldn’t believe how quickly it all came together and having reached my goal in under 2 weeks seemed like such a miracle! I was and still am extremely grateful to the friends and fans that reached out and hopped on my music train. I honestly cried every time I got an email saying I had gotten “fuel”. It was really encouraging. Touching. Beautiful. Amazing. No matter how many words I try to use it will never be enough or the right expression for how I see it and how I feel. I’m sure other crowdfunders can relate though. It’s been a great great tool to have a forum like Rockethub to catapult this dream and be there to help me make it come true. The whole experience was lovely lovely lovely. From the first meeting with the Rockethub team to help guide me how to proceed and help with decisions along the way to reaching out for support and being so blessed in return.   3. Mahalo for the good words! So, what has it been like as a crowdfunding pioneer in music world? Am I really a pioneer? LOL 4.  Yes you are :)  So what advice would you give to Creatives looking to crowdfund their projects? My advice for other creatives looking to use crowd funding as a tool: Be yourself. Let people really know you and your project. Make your rewards fun, exciting and/or truly from the heart. And don’t be shy in connecting with those who fuel you! It’s a journey you’re taking together.Think about how to create community with your friends, family and fans in a way that is uniquely you. Give yourself enough time to reach your goal. And give regular gratitude to your fuelers and updates & posts to keep folks engaged. Thank you kindly for this great insight and advice! I am excited to hear your new sound develop :) Mahalo for flying with Team RocketHub, Michele! Brian Meece

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  • September 23, 2010