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

The Recording Academy® and RocketHub Present Crowdfunding at George Washington University

The Recording Academy®(internationally known for the GRAMMY® Awards) has partnered with RocketHub to organize and present an expert panel discussion on crowdfunding. This innovative event will empower musicians with the knowledge necessary to understand how to leverage their existing network of friends, family and fans for funds, awareness, and authentic feedback. Our own fearless leader, Brian Meece summed up crowdfunding as “a new spin on an established idea: Beethoven + Social Media = Crowdfunding for the modern musician. Welcome to the re-birth of patronage” - and The Recording Academy loved it. The panel will consist of two RocketHub Co-founders, Brian Meece and Vlad Vukicevic (me), who will discuss the current crowdfunding marketplace, the ins-an-outs of successful crowdfunding projects, and future trends in this burgeoning movement. Joining us will be three musicians and successful crowdfunding pioneers, Kate Dawson, Gustavo Rodriguez, and Alfonso Velez, to discuss their personal experiences with this new and powerful approach. The panel will be moderated by Richard James Burgess, a music industry veteran and author of the seminal “The Art of Music Production.” Please join us tomorrow if you’re in the Washington D.C. area - the event is open to The Recording Academt members and the public: Music Box: Crowdfunding - The New Independent Music Model Event LOCATION: The George Washington University 103 Funger Hall 2201 G Street N.W. Washington, D.C.  20042 DATE: Thursday, November 4, 2010 TIME: 5:30 PM – Check In 6:00 PM – Panel Discussion 8:00 PM – Panel Ends/Wrap-Up PANELISTS: Richard James Burgess, Moderator Smithsonian Folkways   Brian Meece Co-founder, RocketHub   Vladimir Vukicevic Co-founder, RocketHub   Kate Dawson Singer/Actress   Gustavo Rodriguez Singer/Songwriter Alfonso Velez Singer/Songwriter This is a wonderful collaboration between an organization that has been helping artists for over fifty years, The Recording Academy, and our quickly-emerging grassroots platform that is giving artists the ability to connect with and leverage fans like never before, RocketHub. I have grown up admiring The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Awards – it is an honor to be working together to help musicians. For more info and to register, click here. A little more info about The Recording Academy: "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. Internationally known for the GRAMMY Awards — the preeminent peer-recognized award for musical excellence and the most credible brand in music — The Recording Academy is responsible for groundbreaking professional development, cultural enrichment, advocacy, education and human services programs. The Academy continues to focus on its mission of recognizing musical excellence, advocating for the well-being of music makers and ensuring music remains an indelible part of our culture. For more information about The Academy, please visit For breaking news and exclusive content, join the organization’s social networks on Facebook (, MySpace (, Twitter (, and YouTube (” -Vlad

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  • November 3, 2010

"There’s A Hippopotamus On Our Roof Eating Cake" - The Movie

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

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  • November 2, 2010

Astoria LIC Film Festival - Music Video Showcase Recap

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!

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  • November 1, 2010

Interview with Bobby Belfry - The Creative Process and Crowdfunding

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

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  • October 29, 2010

Turbo Thursdays: LawHelp.Org

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. " 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. is funded largely by the Legal Services Corporation and the Open Society Institute." Although won’t solve all your legal matters, it’s a good start for finding local, inexpensive or free legal resources. -Vlad

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  • October 28, 2010

Teaching the Art of the Deal in Queens NYC

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:…

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  • October 27, 2010

CMJ 2010 RocketHub Recap

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: 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

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  • October 26, 2010

Emerging Artist from Jackson Heights - Chris Rungoo

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!

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  • October 22, 2010

Crowdfunding a Jazz Album - Behind the Scenes With Josh Deutsch and Nico Soffiato

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

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  • October 15, 2010