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

Where is RocketHub? New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia

We love to get out of RocketHub Ground Control as often as possible and spread the word about the crowdfunding revolution. This week we are lucky to be in three great cities: New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia: New York - Fundraising in a Box - Thursday September 23rd at 7 PM ET Fractured Atlas and the Yale Alumni Association of Metropolitan New York are co-hosting Fundraising in a Box: Crowdsourcing Microgrants. Our own co-founder, Jed Cohen will be representing RocketHub and all the Creatives that have successfully leveraged the power of crowdfunding. The discussion that will answer all the questions you have about fundraising and any others you have about the business of art. For more info on the New York event check out this link.  Los Angeles - Tracks to Tweeting: Artists on Social Media Remixing the Music World - Thursday September 23rd at 6:45 PM PT The theme for this event is how social media helps artists reach and expand their intended audience. The artists will ask the social media people on the panel to explain how their service can actually have a positive effect on their careers. Yours truly will be describing how RocketHub and Internet-powered crowdfunding can create new opportunities for musicians. For more info on the L.A. event check out this link. Philadelphia - Philadelphia Film and Music Festival - Saturday and Sunday, September 25th and 26th from 10AM to 7PM ET The whole RocketHub team will be in full force in Philadelphia reaching musicians and other Creatives the old fashioned way: through face-to-face discussions on crowdfunding and through small crowdfunding workshops. Come out to this awesome event to hear some good music, see some innovative films, and learn more about crowdfunding. For more info on the Philly event check out this link. -Vlad

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  • September 21, 2010

Crowdfunding a Music Video - Behind The Scenes With Atlanta-Based Artist Kurt Scobie

When Atlanta-based singer/songwriter Kurt Scobie launched his RocketHub project, a music video for a song called “Your Crash”, it immediately caught my eye (and ears).  Having grown up on the Gulf Coast and experiencing the effects of Hurricane Katrina firsthand - I was drawn to what Kurt had to say.  We’ve been in touch throughout his campaign, and Kurt was generous enough to shed some light on his project and the crowdfunding experience: 1.  What was the inspiration to your latest music video project Your Crash?  Why is it important to you? I wrote “Your Crash” five years ago after Hurricane Katrina tore through the Gulf Coast. I saw a connection between the devastation left by the storm and the unexpected hardships that everyone faces. Whether it is a death of a loved one, an end to a relationship, a loss of a job, or a terminal illness, we all go through times in our lives when we “crash”.  The response to the song has been overwhelming. People come up to me all the time to talk to me about how they have connected with “Your Crash”. I’m excited to add a visual element to the song to further connect with people. Connecting with people is becoming a more and more important goal for me.  2.  How are you reaching out to your fans? How has the response been? I am trying to use as many tools that I have available. Facebook, Twitter, and Email have been my main means of communicating about this project.  The response has really been excellent. It wasn’t quite what I expected. People whom I didn’t expect much involvement from have stepped up and taken ownership of my project. I am blessed by a great group of supporters (and fuelers!)  3.  What has it been like as a crowdfunding pioneer in the music world? This has been one of the biggest challenges I have faced as an independent artist. This campaign has pushed me to find creative ways to reach people and get them excited about what I am doing. One of the main challenges I have had is explaining how the system works. I had to correct people who began throwing out the word “donation” on more than one occasion. But, the project has also been very rewarding. I am always looking for ways to connect with my fans, and this has given me a means to do so. 4.  What advice would you give to Creatives looking to crowdfund their projects? Do your research before you begin! If there is one thing I would have done a better job of, it is really understanding how this whole crowdfunding thing works. If you’re reading this and are considering a project launch on RocketHub, make sure you read the advice on the RocketHub.org site. I have found that very helpful! Thank you for this insight Kurt! We appreciate having your energy and talents in the RocketHub community. Keep up the great creative work - and thank you for flying with Team RocketHub! Brian Meece 

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  • September 20, 2010

Turbo Thursdays: We All Make Music

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. I had the pleasure of meeting Max Willens, blog editor of We All Make Music (WAMM), this summer over an espresso at Stumptown Coffee. We discussed the future of the music business and how crowdfunding is playing a part. As I learned more about Max, I became very impressed with his knowledge and passion for music and musicians. His unique perspective as a native New Yorker growing up in a very creative household comes across in his writing. I have been reading his articles and feel they add much value to the rising Creative Class. The music industry has drastically changed over the past decade. No longer is there a singular path to success. Successfully producing, promoting, and playing music takes a different level of skill. Knowledge is now king and WAMM exists to consistently provide this knowledge that musicians need. WAMM is part blog, part music-making community that keeps tabs on all important trends. “For musicians, by musicians, WAMM is a resource for news, tips and inspiration on everything the new millennium musician needs to thrive.” So check out WAMM and all the talented bloggers that create it’s awesome content. Check out WAMM if you want to learn about the new music business. Brian Meece

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  • September 16, 2010

Aloha From Kansas! - Brian & Silbin & Friends Make Music

Cheers and Aloha friends and family!   I am pleased to report that Silbin and I have had a wonderfully productive trip to Lawrence, Kansas where we made our RocketHub record with producer Mike West of Truckstop Honeymoon.  I’ve known Mike for the last 10 years or so and worked on sessions in his studio in New Orleans called The Ninth Ward Pickin’ Parlor. Mike produced Silbin’s debut album as well.   This time around Silbin and I had help from our friends Aram Bajakian, David Stephens, Rachel Swaner, Katie Euliss, Colin Mahoney, and Harry Miller to help make a wonderfully produced record. It was such a cool experience to soak up the mid-western lifestyle and work with these talented folks - and I’m proud to have this crew as friends and co-conspirators. The musical project has a very collaborative, intimate and hand-made feel to it and we are very happy with the songs - we believe you will be too!  Plus, we are stoked to follow through on your well-deserved rewards. Right now Mike is in the mixing stages of the production of the album - but we will be performing much of the material this Friday at Rockwood Music Hall - 8PM.  For those of you in NYC, we would be honored to play for you! http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=142656712442722&ref=ts Thank you to all of the Fuelers who have been able to make this project a reality - we are grateful for the ride.  Brian Meece

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  • September 15, 2010

Crowdfunding a London Fashion Week Showcase with Bunmi Koko

I recently chatted with the team of Bunmi Koko, a fashion and art label in London about their crowdfunding project. Their campaign aims to bring their innovative designs to London Fashion Week. Here is what they had to say: 1. What was the inspiration to your latest fashion project “Bunmi Koko London Fashion Week Launch”? Why is it important to you? We have been building up to this moment ever since the brand Bunmi Koko was founded in March 2009. This collection, entitled Matriarchy, which we will be showing at the launch during London Fashion Week is a very personal collection for us, as it is inspired by the incredible story of Mary Slessor, who is CEO, and designer Bunmi Olaye’s partner, Francis Udom’s great-great-grandmother. Mary Slessor was a Scottish missionary in Nigeria who fought for the rights of women and twins, who were traditionally considered evil and left to die at birth. Francis’s great-grandmother was one of a pair of twins that Mary Slessor personally saved and brought back to Scotland where she raised them. Bunmi has taken this story and transformed it into a beautiful collection that features the cultural fusion between Nigeria and Scotland and communicates empowerment and strength. The research into not only a incredible story, but into our own heritage that was necessary for this collection made us incredibly attached to and proud of our work. Showing at London Fashion Week is an unbelievable opportunity for a young brand like us, so it is extremely important for us to have the chance to present our work, and begin our dream of building Bunmi Koko. 2. How are you reaching out to your fans? How has the response been? We have been using any and every tool we can think of to get the word out: Facebook, Twitter, email, blogs, universities, our website, word of mouth. We reached out to family and friends and encouraged them to get involved and help spread the word. We have been trying to start a buzz that hopefully will grow enough for us to reach our goal! People have been so wonderful and generous so far, but we’re going to need a lot more help to raise the money we need. 3. What has it been like as a crowdfunding pioneer in fashion world? It has been exciting taking part in crowdfunding, and seeing family, friends, and fans getting involved from all over the world! Nobody that we know of in the fashion industry is doing this on the scale of London Fashion Week. It’s so difficult, and so much hard work as a fashion brand to gain the opportunity to join the ranks of the designers showing during London Fashion Week, and for us we would never be able to accept that honour without the support of our fans. The people who have been helping us on RocketHub really are actively building a dream, and directly taking part in the success of Bunmi Koko and hope of young designers everywhere. 4. What advice would you give to other Creatives looking to crowdfund their projects? Give it a try, it can’t hurt! But know that it is still hard work. You need to be creative, get the word out as much as possible and reach out to the people you can count on. Be bold, be ambitious, and see how rewarding it feels to see how much everyone is supporting you. Be sure to check out their project and the great design work they’ve created. Brian Meece

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  • September 14, 2010

Crowdfunding a Southern Fried Chekhov Production

I had the great pleasure to speak with Eric Kildow, a freelance theater director, producer, and RocketHub Creative. His crowdfunding project is raising funds and awareness for two classic Chekhov productions in Savannah, Georgia. Eric’s aim is to take Chekhov and place a uniquely Southern twist to the performances. Here is what Eric had to say about his project: 1. What was the inspiration to your “Atelier Collective Design” project? Why is it important to you? Originally, Southern Fried Chekhov began as a fairly run-of-the mill production idea for “The Bear” and “The Proposal” to be in repertory with one another. It was an excuse to get a few people together and put on a show from an author that doesn’t get a great deal of play here in Savannah, GA. We were also inspired by an article from Dominic Dromgoole in The New Statesman discussing the importance of intermissions to theatrical events. We also thought about the possibility of creating such an event, with the plays at the center… but not acting as a tyrant over the evening’s festivities. The “Southern Fried” concept came from a suggestion. It was mentioned that transporting Chekhov to a Savannah/Southern US context might not only be fitting, but also fun. I’m a firm believer in Community-based arts, and so this was an excellent opportunity not only to produce a work in my community, but also to adapt it to reflect the community in which it was being produced. Since it sounded like so much fun, Southern Fried Chekhov was born. The importance in this rests not only in the artistic product itself, but also in the process of production. Sustainable theatre shouldn’t be just a NYC and major Regional metro phenomena, but should rest at home. Scott Walters with CRADLE Arts makes a similar point. The importance is, and though we might not succeed with just one production, to prove that such a thing is possible. 2. How are you reaching out to your fans? How has the response been? We have primarily been reaching out via the big social networking sites, Facebook and Myspace and whatnot. Also, I’ve worked through email trying to interest individuals in the project, and have tried getting the word out to local, traditional media outlets. The response has been pretty good. A number of folks from Savannah have donated to the cause, which is really encouraging since, well… its all about community support. I’ve also had donors from other parts of the country (Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Massachusetts), a number of friends and family, who are primarily interested in seeing either the project try to fly on its own merits, or wanting to help me and my crew out. 3. What has it been like as a crowdfunding pioneer in the theater world, particularly in the South? It has certainly been interesting. I’d actually never heard of the process until recently, and stumbled into it from there when I kicked off the program. But I think it is a viable method if you can make people understand precisely how it works. I think RocketHub explains it quite well, and helps keep artists honest. In a town like Savannah, where you’ve got a number of people all trying to dip into an already limited pool, it can be challenging getting the resources you need. It might not be unique to the South, but instead to the size and nature of the Savannah market, where people seem to cling tightly to the orbit of their company and let other groups hang out to dry. It is very insular. In a place like New York, where the sheer number of people who are within walking distance of a venue adds to the base of people who can kick a few bucks toward a show, since they’re able to also go and see said show, that number is far more limited here. 4. What advice would you give to Creatives looking to crowdfund their projects? Piece of advice number one: you’ll be surprised where your support does (and doesn’t) come from. Keep the word out there, and don’t give up. In the world of net publishing and various other, high-speed, low maintenance projects and programs… here is something that will take time and effort. Thanks to Eric for taking the time to chat with me and for launching such a cool project on RocketHub. Check it out here. -Vlad

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  • September 13, 2010

Behind the Scenes Interview With The High-Flying Guitar Player Aram Bajakian

Aram Bajakian is one of the first people I met when moving to NYC in 2006. We hit it off right away and starting jamming together on a regular basis in spots around the city.  In a nutshell - he is one of the best guitar players I’ve ever seen, and brings strong passion to his playing coupled with a unique perspective.  Aram tours Europe regularly and jams with heavy hitters like Marc Ribot and Malcom Mooney (of the legendary band “Can”).  We spent this past week in Lawrence, Kansas working on some new music - and I had a chance to chat with him about his RocketHub project - Small Town Armenian Boy Makes Noise.  This is an excellent interview filled with honesty and cool insights -  1.  What was the inspiration to your latest musical project “Small Town Armenian Boy Makes Noise”? Why is it important to you? It really hit me that I hadn’t led my own group since I’d been here in NYC. I’ve played as a sideman in all sorts of different groups playing a huge range of styles of music. One common thing that I’d hear from audience members, whether I’m playing with a singer songwriter or in a noise band, or playing jazz standards, was that the voice I lend to each group is unique. I’m able to compliment the music while still retaining my own voice and not sounding like some studio musician. I think that this speaks to people and elevates the music to another level. Also, I’m not afraid to push things and fall on my ass. 90% of the time I land on my feet, but people still appreciate it when I don’t. People want to see musicians struggle and push themselves. That’s why you can see a legendary artist play and feel empty and bored- because they’re not still pushing themselves like they were when they were only getting paid from the hat. Or you can see some guy on the subway pour his heart out and you never forget it. He’s playing for the right reasons. So I decided that it was time to record some of my music, how I hear music. The way I hear sounds and rhythm is a bit strange. Asymmetrical rhythms and meters sound normal to me. Dissonance is just another color. I wanted to let the world finally see how I can paint when I have an entire canvas to my own. 2.  How are you reaching out to your fans?  How has the response been? The response has been great. I’ve mostly been using facebook and email. I have over 500 facebook “friends.” I figured that amounts to each person giving $7. If I can’t raise $3500 with my network it would be, to be blunt, pathetic. The best part of the project so far is that I’ve been able to get back in touch with people I haven’t spoken to in years. Its been refreshingly surprising how supportive everyone has been. 3.  What has it been like as a crowdfunding pioneer in music world? At first I was nervous about it. There were two things mainly. One it would seem like I’m begging. And the idea of selling a product that is more than just a CD seemed hard at first, and a little cheesy. But then I saw that my fans really responded to it. They’re just as excited about learning about my favorite restaurants as they are about the music. I was also afraid that I would be looked down upon by other musicians. My network includes some pretty high caliber and established artists, people who are on labels and such. I was a little embarrassed about having to promote myself as “raising money” to fund my recording, that it would make me seem like a shitty musician. But I got over that pretty quickly. If someone’s going to look down on this process or me for using it, then they can pay for my recording! 4.  What advice would you give to Creatives looking to crowdfund their projects? Don’t be afraid to contact the people who you don’t think would support your project and don’t depend entirely on those who are closest to you. Some people I’ve been friends with since childhood haven’t supported this project, while people whom I’ve never met in Europe are telling all their friends about it. Its really eye opening. But also, don’t hold grudges against people who don’t support it. Everybody is fighting their own battle, and usually whatever they project on you has nothing to do with you and is more about when their dad spanked them with a paddle while their aunt watched one Thanksgiving. Very funny and insightful stuff, Aram - Mahalo for these thoughts and advice.  If I haven’t told you already, I am proud to have you as a friend and musical colleague.   Thank you for flying with Team RocketHub! Brian Meece (special thanks to Emma Kim for the photo)

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  • September 9, 2010

Rising Broadway Star, Blake Whyte, and “The Music Inside Me”

With just under 1 month left to go, I had a chance to connect with Blake Whyte about his experience croudfunding his debut album, “The Music Inside Me.”  Blake is a remarkably talented singer/songwriter, with the Broadway credits to prove it.  Here’s what Blake had to say about his project. Q: How did you come up with the idea for your project, and why is it important to you and your fans? A: My whole life a strong voice has told me “You have music inside of you.” I ‘m not sure about lot of things in life, but I’m sure about understanding music. Music has always had a way of being there for me. Music heals me, it inspires me, and I believe my music can do that for the world. I believe my music can help people look at their lives and say to themselves, you know what, I’m gonna take that leap, I’m gonna really invest in what I love, what makes me tick. I finally started writing lyrics and music last January. I believe when you are doing what you love, everything else falls into place. Since I have been creating and writing, my life has changed dramatically. I just joined the cast of the Broadway Musical “Wicked” and I am joining the Broadway company of “Mamma Mia” in October. I believe creation leads to freedom! I decided to fundraise at Rockethub because I was at a concert and happened to be sitting next to Jed Cohen (Co-Founder of Rockethub.)  The concert featured a composer’s work named Bobby Cronin and he thanked Rockethub at the end of his concert for helping him fulfill his dreams, and I said to myself, it’s time to make my dream happen.  Jed gave me his Rockethub business card and rest is history in the making. Q: How are you reaching out to your fans?  How has the response been? A: On Sunday September, 12 in New York City, at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in the Rose Studio at 8:00 P.M. I am doing a bare bones concert with piano and Jembe Drum and possibly guitar and strings. It’s really for more people to come out and hear the music and hopefully keep donating for rewards! Check out the blog page soon with specific directions on how to get there. It will be posted. It’s free, all are welcome. There will be wine! Please RSVP to wbwhyte@yahoo.com if you would like to come. The response for the project has been humbling, thank you to all who have donated. Q: How has your experience been as a pioneer in the crowfunding movement? A: There is a real feeling of community when it takes a village to produce a debut album.  Because everyone has a stake in it, and a lot of the people that help are people that you love or don’t even know. Q: What advice would you give others looking to crowdfund a project? A: Do it!  Put your love out there, you will be amazed by what will happen in your life!! For those of you who haven’t yet had the chance to visit Blake’s project page - click here.  I for one am looking forward to getting my copy of the album.  

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  • September 4, 2010

Turbo Thursdays: The Power of PR with Mi2N

Crowdfunding is empowerment. RocketHub is a community, a platform, and a revolution fostering your crowdfunding adventure. There are many other valuable tools available to Creatives that will empower for little to no cost. Because on this, we have launched a weekly column: Turbo Thursdays. The goal is to highlight other platforms that share our revolutionary ethos. If you or your company would like to be highlighted - please shoot us an email. I had the pleasure of meeting with Eric de Fontenay, CEO of Music Dish over coffee last week. We talked shop about the music biz and how his news service Mi2N was born. Eric’s take was that in the mid-90’s there was an “information apartheid” happening in the music world. While traditional industry folks at the record labels and publishing companies had exposure to Billboard magazine and other similar news outlets, there was very little happening in terms of organizing information on a grassroots level for emerging and mid-level artists. Eric and his team saw an opportunity in this indie playing field and spun Mi2N out of their parent company Music Dish. Founded in 1998 for artists and labels, Mi2N Music PR service provides press release placements through a network of newswires, eGroups, blog communities, boards and forums, as well as MP3 and video distribution. In addition to PR placement, this service provides exposure through daily newsletters sent to over 24,000 music professionals across the globe. This makes Mi2N the oldest and largest news wire for the music biz - serving a diverse and international community. The mission of Mi2N is to democratize music Public Relations and the platform has packages that start at no cost to packages at $20 (which gets a news release on about 20 sites) to bundles at $180 (with 240 total overall guaranteed placements). In addition, Mi2N offers a press release writing service and a few other nifty PR tools. I asked Eric for a few tips to pass on and he mentioned the importance of these two items: 1. Take control of your messaging and be proactive about telling your story. 2. Be consistent. In the current online environment, sending messages on a regular basis is key to building awareness. Mi2N is a wonderful tool for musicians at all levels of their career. It’s the place to get the word about your upcoming shows, tours, albums, crowdfunding campaigns, and other important events. Rock on Mi2N. Brian Meece

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  • September 2, 2010