Sunday at Roulette: New Music Bake Sale III

Bake Sale Committee (L-R): Ross Marshall, Eileen Mack, David T. Little, Lainie Fefferman, Matt Marks. Photo by Isabelle Selby.

Cookies (and other Goodies) for a Cause

On Sunday March 11, 2012 from 4 PM to Midnight, a plethora of organizations gather at Roulette in Brooklyn for the Third Annual New Music Bake Sale.

Ten bucks gains you entry to the event plus a raffle ticket. There’s music being performed every hour on the hour by artists such as Newspeak, Gutbucket, the Janus Trio, and more. Check out the event’s website for a complete listing of performers, sponsors, and organizations manning the tables.

Dessert, plus music, plus prizes? Sounds like this third installation of the Bake Sale is triply pleasurable!

Roulette is on 509 Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn.

Gilgamesh Variations EP (Bandcamp)

I’ve finally taken the plunge and decided to offer some of my recordings on Bandcamp. The Gilgamesh EP includes incidental music from Immortal: the Gilgamesh Variations, a 2011 adaptation of the Epic of Gilgamesh, produced at the Bushwick Starr in Brooklyn. I made the score using electronics, prepared piano, piano, voices, and percussion. It was great fun to hear my music as part of a play, albeit on tape.

The next step for the Gilgamesh project: creating a concert suite from the score for live instruments. On August 24 at Riverside Church in New York, Locrian Chamber Players is going to premiere Gilgamesh Suite, a newly composed work based on selections from the incidental music. Written to celebrate the 2012 Cage centenary, its touchstone work is “Sonatas and Interludes.” The score, written for the entire Locrian cohort, will feature prepared piano, harp, and string quartet.

You can stream all of the tracks on the EP at Bandcamp and the bonus track “Duo” is available for free download. But, if you are so inclined to buy the EP (name your price), all of the proceeds will go towards funding the Gilgamesh Suite project. Hope you enjoy!

Bonus Day for New Am Records Fundraiser: Jefferson Friedman

New Amsterdam Records has decided to give potential donors an extra opportunity to give to their 2011 fundraiser, extending it today for an additional day. They’re also offering for free download one of the imprint’s finest recent releases (and a Grammy nominee to boot!), Jefferson Friedman’s Quartets played by the Chiara SQ (embed below). Chrismukkah comes early.

Day 3 of New Amsterdam Fundraiser: Download William Brittelle

New Amsterdam Records’s fundraiser is in its third day.

Today the imprint is offering William Brittelle’s Television Landscape as a free download. Hopefully, all these goodies will inspire many to generosity of their own.

Day 2 of New Am fundraiser; label gives away Nadia’s CD

Day two of New Amsterdam Records’s fundraising campaign finds them with lots more to raise to reach their goal.

Sweetening the pot, today and today only they offer a free download of star violists and Q2 mainstay Nadia Sirota’s recording first things first.

Music After Marathon

Daniel Felsenfeld

Composers Daniel Felsenfeld and Eleanor Sandresky are organizing a free music marathon to commemorate the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001. Music After will include a veritable who’s who of the New York new music scene, featuring performers and composers who were affected (and are still affected) by the terrorist attacks in Lower Manhattan on 9/11. The event will be at Joyce SoHo on September 11, 2011 from 8:46 AM until past midnight.

The organizers (and many of the participants) are donating their time; but it’s still proving a challenge to fund an event of this size. If you’d like to help out with a contribution of any amount, we’ve included some information below to facilitate that process.

1) Click here to give a small amount (even $2 or 3 helps)

2) Visit to give through Vision Into Art, who have generously offered to be our 510(c)3 fiscal conduit.  This is done through PayPal.

3) If you want to give a more substantial amount, send a check (made out to Vision Into Art) to:

Music After

336 Park Place #3

Brooklyn, NY 11238

Eleanor Sandresky

Guest post: Maura Lafferty on Kickstarter strategies

Kickstarter as a successful fundraising tool

Maura Lafferty

Maura Lafferty is one of the most astute and social media savvy publicists of classical music around. Since several of her clients have used Kickstarter as part of fundraising campaigns, we asked her to write a guest blog about the platform. Maura’s been kind enough to share some tips for our readers about how to best employ Kickstarter to fund their next project.

I get a lot of questions about Kickstarter and funding commissions through this tool, and have chimed in on a number of Twitter conversations about its effectiveness.

Kickstarter is a threshold giving system: for those unfamiliar with it, an artist or small organization can set up a fundraising campaign through the tool. Kickstarter provides a unique web portal for the giving, and takes a percentage of the fees. No 501(c)(3) tax deduction is offered, rather, the user sets up a series of giving benefits at different levels. For a new music project, this can boil down to basically fronting the money for a CD to make the project possible. The threshold offers a double safety valve to reduce the risk on a project driven by independent artists: the donor’s money won’t be wasted on an unsuccessful project, and the artist won’t be forced to work with insufficient resources.

Despite a number of successfully funded Kickstarter projects, many people are starting to resent seeing a link or request from the site, and this conversation is not unique to the new music community. Theater and other performing arts folks are also debating the challenges and usefulness of a site like Kickstarter. My response to these concerns is that you can’t blame the tool: blame the people whose behavior reflects a lack of understanding, and poor implementation, and, if you’re afraid you might be one of those people, try and figure out how to use it well.

A successful Kickstarter campaign – i.e., one that raises the money needed for the project (whether this is the threshold or a higher goal) – is the end product of successful communicating the value of one’s project, and converting that value into a dollar transaction on the part of the audience. This type of conversion is not unique to this platform: ticket and CD sales also require the same diligence when it comes to reaching audiences. Traditional marketing wisdom says that it takes 10 impressions/interactions with your product or brand before a new audience member reaches that point of conversion.

The advertising, promotion, and fundraising behavior that people resent comes from people who can’t think beyond their immediate circle of friends, colleagues and potential supporters, and just corner them or ask them repeatedly until they wear down. Christian Carey has likened composers sending him a Kickstarter link to the kid knocking on doors selling candy bars to his neighbors (“Well, only after I’d gotten twelve Kickstarter requests in a single day!” – CC).

Let’s be really honest: we all HATE that kid. He’s cute, the money goes to a cause that sounds good at the time, and you basically can’t say no when he’s standing on your doorstep. When you close the door, there’s a good chance you think to yourself: “Now what the HECK am I going to do with a box of 20 chocolate bars?” (Or, if it was my brother on your doorstep, you could basically kiss the money goodbye, because there was a chance that the envelope of money disappeared into the bowels of his completely disorganized desk.) This is why my mother always made me write a note to my neighbors, which I distributed in mailboxes, informing them that I had a school fundraiser, what it supported, and the deadline, and then I had to wait for the neighbors to call me.

This begs the all-important question: how do you find that audience, and how do you accumulate the 10 impressions needed per donor, without driving everyone around you completely insane? Like any good communication, advertising, or traditional fundraising campaign (some might say there is no difference from this latter), accomplishing a Kickstarter goal requires answering some key questions.

Identifying your audience requires thinking beyond your immediate circle and understanding what will motivate the target group of donors. The answer to what makes a YouTube or other Internet video go viral is identical: finding a point of resonance with something the audience already values, and providing something that taps into those values. This doesn’t mean “spinning” your pitch or changing anything you do artistically, but it does require some awareness and thoughtfulness at the outset.

I’ve worked on promoting three Kickstarter campaigns for new music projects, two of which were over-funded, and the most recent doubled its goal.  My very first engagement as an independent publicist resulted in Meerenai Shim and Daniel Felsenfeld anchoring Chloe Veltman’s New York Times article about evolving models of commissioning in January.

In Meerenai Shim’s case, her first Kickstarter campaign was successful because the concept of the project was something that everyone in her new music community on Twitter could get behind: an independent musician was undertaking a big fancy commission purely because she’s passionate about new music, and wanted to pay Daniel Felsenfeld a fair price for his work. The underlying values made this an easy project for the community to get behind. Meerenai had already done a lot of work building up this community online, and translated that work into her promotional pieces to drive the campaign: videos, reward swag like t-shirts, and even engaging a publicist to amplify the message beyond her immediate circle.

Dale Trumbore’s most recent campaign tapped into the communities of family and friends who had known her, soprano Gillian Hollis, and the other members of the project team. We reached out to personal circles that had known us growing up, attended the musicians’ high school and college recitals, which wanted to see the local girls accomplish something great. The video and other promotional materials focused on the members of the team, their talent, and the opportunity that this project represented.

An interesting side-note about Dale’s project: when she set her threshold, Kickstarter asks the artist to “ask for the minimum needed to make the project successful.” This is good advice: I’ve seen users set overly-ambitious threshold goals, which they then struggled to meet by the deadline. Dale took it to an extreme, setting her Kickstarter goal at $15, which meant that everything over that went directly to the project. The threshold does not have to be the fundraising goal: Dale’s real goal was $2,000.

The most challenging Kickstarter project that I worked on that was a challenge was Curtis Hughes’ campaign to fund his recording of “Say it Ain’t So, Joe,” which had premiered a few years prior to this project. I was initially enthusiastic: I could see a lot of potential tie-ins, and he mentioned the buzz that had surrounded the original production. Unfortunately, there were several things that added to the difficulty, and created stress that could have been avoided.

First, Curtis’ goal (and threshold) was significantly higher than any of the other projects I’ve worked on ($11,000). Second, the musicians engaged on the recording did not represent the full complement of the Boston-based Guerrilla Opera Company. Using part of an organization can present its own challenges. If only some are invited to participate, it may limit the rest of the organization’s drive to support the project and to spread the word among their audience. The intended audience I pitched was one that I really didn’t know very well (political writers), and I honestly didn’t know Curtis or the Guerrilla Opera community well enough before leaping into the project. Despite these initial challenges, we learned as we went and there’s a happy ending: the project ultimately did get funded, and I understand that the recording process went smoothly.

Audience awareness is the single biggest answer to any successful effort that an artist undertakes and converting those efforts into the bottom line that makes it possible to dedicate oneself to the project.  The more we know ourselves, the art at hand, and the target audience, the more effectively we can communicate and produce results.

Fundraising through Kickstarter: pitfalls to avoid:

-       Nagging your audience: whenever you post the link, make sure that there is always a new tidbit, fact, or supporting detail to offer your audience

-       Wasting your credit with your support network/audience: make sure this is the project that you want your supporters to devote their attention to

-       Setting an unreasonable goal/threshold for the scope of your support network and target audience: know how much your market is willing to give, and ask accordingly. If that means scaling back part of the project, or finding additional sources of funding from other arenas, adjust accordingly.

-       Desperate, last-minute begging to reach an absurdly high goal: set your threshold at a comfortable place, so you can accomplish something meaningful, and your efforts aren’t wasted on a goal that you miss.

-       Modeling your Kickstarter campaign too closely on others’: offer something distinctive