Hello My Clever Ducks-
So I got a really interesting email from a nice fella named James C Kaufman. Have a gander (with his permission, of course):
My name is James -- loved hearing you in Sweeney (among others) and seeing you in No No Nannette when I lived on the right coast. Am really enjoying your blog. I have a question -- is the $1000 a goal because it's a cool restriction to place on it, or because that was the maximum amount you were able to spend comfortably? Have you thought about inviting mini-angels to help out on the CD, maybe people who'd spend $100 to reserve a signed CD with XXXX whatever bonuses? I am a list member of the Cast-Recording List and I imagine some might be intrigued. I know I would. Even just 10 people would double the budget....
Regardless, thank you for letting us observe the process. It is absolutely fascinating!!
First of all, THANK YOU James! That was real sweet of you to get in touch and with some really great ideas. How awesome are you!
I have to admit, this is not the first email, phone call or letter I’ve received from people wanting to ‘donate to the cause’ of this CD. And besides being UNBELIEVABLY shocked, flattered and grateful- I admit, I’m a bit torn about the whole idea.
Mostly because one of my main goals with this adventure was to not only do this whole thing myself on a budget of $1000 but to also prove to others that they could make their own Solo CD for under a grand as well. Obviously, accepting donations defeats that purpose.
What kinda jackass turns down cash from extremely kind, generous and benevolent people?!!!! Uhmmmmmmmm, not THIS kinda jackass. NO SIR!
So I’m in a quandary, my dears.
I did have a marvelous chat on the phone the other night with the previously MIA composer Michael McLean (who’s a big ole fancy pants recording star in his own right (http://www.michaelmcleanmusic.com/) and I asked his advice on this subject.
He made the really astute point that one of the reasons people so generously offer to contribute to a project like this is (besides just being awesome and wanting to support artists in any way they can) there is an element of being a part of creating something by donating to support it’s process.
Which I can totally dig and appreciate. And absolutely, would love to support and welcome.
Michael actually came up with an interesting compromise. He said,
“I notice you’ve made no plans (and have no budget for) PR and marketing. That's a part of a CD that you clearly, haven't thought of. If you're going to want to really sell this thing, you're going to have to promote it and that means getting ads on websites, in papers and magazines, etc but also making extra CDs that you wouldn’t sell but would give away for ‘promotional purposes’ to whomever. You send these promotional CDs to radio stations, producers, labels, etc to get the word out. PR is part of the recording business, just like it is in the theatre and people do it all the time. You just didn’t know about that part, so you didn't budget for it. You could use your Angel Fund for that.”
Forgot all about the PR.
Biiiiiggggg rookie mistake.
Live and learn, my lovelies.
And I have to say, even though he couldn't have been sweeter in breaking that news to me...I was really kicking myself that I hadn’t really ever thought of it! He's SO right.
How many times have i been in awesome (and i mean AWE-some) productions Off Broadway at The Transport Group (www.transportgroup.org) or even on Broadway for that matter, and NO ONE knew about them because the PR budget sucked ass.
I was at my first Tony Awards rehearsal because JAMES JOYCE'S THE DEAD (which was up for a Best Musical Tony, among others) was going to perform and I was beside myself. I was also part of the opening number and during rehearsal I was standing next to someone very nice from one of the really popular shows (like PHANTOM OF THE OPERA or something) that was just killing at the box office. So...shooting the shit on a break I say to this gal,
"So, what show are you in?"
"Oh, that's cool. Good for you, that's a nice solid gig."
"So what show are you in?"
"The Dead. James Joyce's The Dead."
"James Joyce's THE. DEAD. It's a musical. We're up for Best Musical this year."
"How can you be up for best musical?"
"Uhmmmmm, cause...we're a musical...and someone thinks we...might....be...the best? Ish? Or something? Maybe?"
"No, i mean. When did Off Broadway plays become eligible for Tony Awards."
See now, if we'd had some decent PR....she would have at least known we were ON Broadway. The not believing we were a musical tho...i have no explanation for.
But everyone knew THE PRODUCERS was a Broadway musical. Right?
AIDA? Broadway musical.
LES MIZ? Broadway musical.
BY JEEVES? Who knows.
Because we had shitty PR and a budget the size of Spencer Pratt's yam sack.
The PR part is the part I absolutely hate about the business. Not because it doesn’t have a purpose and not because it’s not important, but because it IS important and just not one of my strengths. Well, I take that back. It actually is a strength of mine, as in- I do what’s within my power to get the word out about things in the least obnoxious way possible.
But ultimately, I absolutely hate doing it.
Case in point. I have a one-woman show that I LOVE doing but the 4 weeks prior I want to absolutely claw my own face off because (without any sort of PR agent) the responsibility of ‘getting the word out’ and selling as many tickets as I can is the hugest fucking pain in the ass in the world. The show? No problem. Love it. Love prepping for it. Love writing it. Love performing it. But the PR for the show? The month before? Oh God, I’d rather have fire ants let loose in my nostrils. Seriously.
Luckily, I have a few friends in the business who are PR agents, work for theatrical internet sites, etc who are just unbelievably helpful and supportive and they do the best they can for me but besides that, I have to resort to being that annoying ‘mass email chick’ that let’s face it, pretty much everyone hates. Most of all me.
My point being.
What if I DID take these people up on their offers to donate to the cause, but only in a totally separate Public Relations Account capacity.
Would that be cool?
Would that be cheating?
Obviously, PR is necessary if I want to really get the word out.
Should I start a separate “Angel Account” that would ONLY go towards PR stuff such as “Promotional CDs”, ads, etc. Maybe I'd just hire a PR person who really knew what they were doing?
Should I offer a deal like what James suggested? An autographed CD for a higher price? Would anyone really be interested in that? Does it make me a complete douche bag for even considering that some people would?
A higher price?
I don’t even know what my normal price is going to be.
How much are CDs ya’ll?
Ya know. It’s times like these when I think I’m in way over my head. How can I be making a CD when I don’t even know HOW MUCH THEY COST TO BUY? WHAT am I DOING?! What if the CD sucks? Am I building up too much expectation? OH MY GOOODDDDDDDDD….
Google is your friend.
And so’s Julia Murney.
Let’s see how much Julia Murney’s fabulous CD I’m Not Waiting is going for shall we?
$12.15 on CD Universe (http://www.cduniverse.com/search/xx/music/pid/7058130/a/I'm+Not+Waiting.html
$13.98 on Amazon
$14.95 on Playbill
What about my buddy Nancy Anderson. She has a KICK ass CD called Ten Cents A Dance:
$16.00 on CDBaby
$20.29 on CD Universe
$6.46 on Amazon
*$6.46?!!! For that awesome cd? That's highway robbery. That CD is totally worth the $21 price. Seriously. What is this world coming to?
a price range span of $20.29- $6.46.
incredibly NOT helpful.
Ok, I’m tangenting shame-spiral style.
Let me close this post with questions to YOU:
(and feel free to answer me directly if you don’t want to publicly post here at email@example.com)
1) Would it be cool to start accepting these donations from people as long as all the donated money goes to a whole separate PR account in order to the keep the original goal of the whole making/producing of the CD under $1000. I would keep a running tally of the PR budget ON the site if people would like to be credited, etc.
2) Is it insane to think that maybe people actually would pay more for a CD from me if it were autographed? (I’m still….having a real hard time wrapping my mind around that one but…hell. Wasn’t my idea.)
3) How much should I sell this damned thing for? Is this even something I decide? Or do the places that are actually selling them, get to decide that for me?
4) My mom thinks I swear way too much on my blog. Should I stop embarrassing her with my fucking prolific goddamned use of a shitload of cocked up profanity, for Christ’s sake?
5) Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?
I adore you all.
Stay tuned for the next post.
Which will hopefully be much less hysterical.